National Plutocratic Radio

Harry Shearer is not particularly happy with NPR. In this Huffington Post article, “NPR — The Initials Stand for Nothing,” Harry decries what he sees as censorship at what was once called National Public Radio:

Well, here’s a clue about what NPR stands for now. I’ve just made a documentary film about why New Orleans flooded, “The Big Uneasy,” in theaters nationwide on Monday. Having been denied access to coverage by either of the network’s two flagship news programs, I decided to buy in, purchasing some of those “enhanced underwriting” announcements that the rest of us would call ads.

The money was on the table, and then things got kind of NPR’y. Long story short, NPR’s legal department ruled that these words were not acceptable in the announcement: “documentary about why New Orleans flooded,” that the only words that would work for them were “documentary about New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina” — this despite the fact that the movie IS about why New Orleans flooded, and it most certainly is not about the hurricane (since the experts interviewed in the movie agree that the flooding was a “man-made engineering catastrophe”).

So, yes, like CBS and NBC, NPR has decided its initials stand for nothing. What the network itself stands for at this moment sounds a lot like censorship.

As usual, the Post article drew nigh on 300 comments, many of which dealt with the rightward drift of NPR:

typicalpol: During the Iraq war they were “National Pentagon Radio” promoting the war and fascinated with the products of the military industrial complex. But really just look at their underwriters and the slants to their stories — National Pharmaceutical Radio. Just TRY to get a balanced coverage of a topic that interferes with the agendas or potential legal issues of Merck, Johnson and Johnson and others.

Truth-Seeker: I wonder if this would have happened to Michael Moore, given that he has lots more power and studio clout when it comes to documentaries? Ask Michael to contact NPR and ask them. Still think if you had called it “The Big Uneasy — In 3Deeee,” NPR would have reviewed it and plugged it ;-D (that’s how superficial and phobic they have become regarding controversy). Don’t even ask NPR about their appeal to the Supreme Court in opposition to banning animal torture videos.

taperachi: Way back in the Reagan era, my circle of friends would call NPR National Petroleum Radio or National Pentagon Radio. This was for the support they give to the oil industry and to the war machine. The only thing I listen to on this network now is “car talk.” For my news, I get it from KPFA and when I am out of the bay area, I go online to listen. KPFA is America’s OLDEST listener sponsored station (began in 1949 — started by a pacifist) and the bulk of its operational budget is from individual contributions.

notfamous: I just sent the following (in a slightly longer version — edited to fit here) to the NPR Ombudsman.

It has come to my attention that NPR recently rejected an underwriting proposal from Harry Shearer [regarding] his … documentary on the true nature of the Katrina Disaster… I am appalled that you would [reject] Mr. Shearer’s underwriting proposal on the basis of… questioning the words, “documentary about why New Orleans flooded.” This is not even a controversial statement in light of the easily attainable facts at hand… Mr. Shearer’s documentary’s purpose is to show those unassailable facts the light of day, and NPR’s refusal to allow the words “documentary about why New Orleans flooded” can only lead this 33 year NPR listener and financial supporter to conclude that NPR can no longer be considered an objective, reliable source of news and information. This decision by NPR, in my opinion, is tantamount to censorship and carries with it the taint of collusion with a media-promulgated false narrative about the true nature of the Katrina Disaster. For that reason, I have lost faith in NPR, can no longer regard its reportage as objective or factual, and cannot… continue to… financially contribute to NPR. I would be willing to reconsider my position with a public apology and “make-good-in-kind” compensatory act by NPR on behalf of Mr. Shearer and his documentary “The Big Uneasy.” Until then, sadly, I will have to be excused from the NPR family…

SovereignJohn: NPR & PBS called me asking for a donation a few months ago and I told them when they have weekly and daily working class programs for workers as they do for investors and business I’d donate. NPR & PBS have Nightly Business Report & weekly stock shows but not one programing dealing with worker issues from a working class perspective. and they have the audacity to call themselves “Public.” As far as their programing goes it ought to be Corporate Broadcasting System as well as National Corporate Radio!! It was amusing to watch a Frontline Documentary on Wal*Mart then see the rest of PBS/NPR programming sponsored by . . . Wal*Mart!!! Don’t be fooled. They throw it in your face!!

And this is just a warmup. The balance of the comments make for a fascinating read on the changes at NPR — well worth a thorough perusal.

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