In the Ears of the Beholder

Meghan Daum, writing in this post on the LA Times blog, said it: “NPR needs a backbone.” Woof.

Oh, NPR, won’t you please state your game? Are you liberal? Are you neutral? Are your employees secret socialists? Do their screensavers feature slideshows of Noam Chomsky? Do your office Christmas parties serve only free-range eggnog? Do your parking lots offer preferred spaces for vehicles with “Free Tibet” bumper stickers?”

Yes? No? Tell us, NPR!

Then this:

[Y]ou have to show some self-respect and fight back. You have to point out that as reprehensible as Ron Schiller’s comments may have been, they were no worse than the methods of James O’Keefe, the video prankster who set him up. After all, even the Glenn Beck-backed website the Blaze has denounced O’Keefe for releasing an edited version of the Schiller tape that misrepresented much of what was said.

Not that Beck will be calling “Car Talk” for transmission advice anytime soon. “I do have an agenda against NPR. I hate those guys,” he reminded his radio listeners. But if he’s defending you more than you’re defending yourself, you might want to rethink your strategy.

Here’s the real problem, NPR. No matter how mainstream your audience is in truth, or how balanced you are in substance, or how many opinions you solicit from average red-state Joes, the prevailing feeling is that your style is unmistakably liberal.

In other words, NPR, you may not be left-leaning, but you’re left-seeming.

It’s the folksy music between segments (never mind that it’s often jazzy or electronic or classical; the effect is folksy). It’s the warm, earnest quality of the hosts’ and reporters’ voices. It’s their exotic names — Mandalit del Barco, Lakshmi Singh, Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, Daniel Zwerdling. Are these tea party names? No, they’re soy chai latte names. It’s obvious.

Face it, NPR, you could go content-free, relying only on those quirky music snippets and reporters saying their names, and you’d still come across as a granola bar disguised as a radio network.

Funny. But true. The perception is often greater than the reality. Even though the reality is far from the truth, as pointed out in numerous posts (here, among others). The “liberal” mainstream media is a fantasy.

So please, NPR, the only recourse is to tell the truth. Do the reporting, show us the answers. Stop telling us to listen and decide for ourselves. Because you clearly can’t rely on the American people for rationality. That folksy music drowns it out.

Especially when the American people have been bombarded with the same message for the past 40 years.

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One Response

  1. Great article by Ms Daughm, very succinct. But I’m afraid it’s far too late for NPR to try and re-align its public perception, or to grow a backbone. Once it’s name was known to the tea party set it didn’t make any difference what the actual content was, the Glenn Becks & Michelle Bachmanns don’t deal in reality, only perceived realities. “Left seeming” is indeed the culprit.

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