NPR, Please Take Away “The Takeaway”

I read, watch, and listen to as much news as I can.  I try to take in all sorts of ideas,  from various points of view, and sort them into my version of a “reasoned” view.  Although I tolerate them, I find extreme narrators, articles and programs abhorrent and unworthy of serious consideration, yet they  have their audiences.

Public radio depends on tax dollars and donations; that makes them responsible to stay away from radical views and political campaigning.  My favorite radio source is KERA, a local NPR radio station, which carries the BBC, as well as national and local news.  KERA stands out in excellence, variety, and quality, as long as they stick to journalism, news reporting, and entertainment. 

Unfortunately, their programming includes programs disguised as news that have social and political agendas.  They use euphemisms such as:

“We cover news that does not usually get covered.”  This is code for items that do not fit the balanced or factual standards of journalism, such as advocating illegal immigration, amplifying micro-minority tragedies, and, entirely opinionated, leftish commentary.

“We put different spins on the news.”  Code for biased reinterpretations of events from very liberal political or social views.

Another tactic is choosing interview and show participants with very biased points of view; the hosts feed them leading questions and suggestions, or allow them to digress into unrelated political rants.  Sometimes hosts or guests use dismissive or derisive inflections when discussing or describing conservative or non-progressive people or groups.

Taxpayers deserve better from publicly funded radio.

Donald Trump has caused those that pretended to be journalists to show their true “blue,” liberal colors.

We all have our biases; most of us are blind to our prejudices; we see the world through our beliefs.

I do not have to comment on Diane Rehm, as she and her show retired last year.

Today, Jan 2, 2017, I heard another blatant politically slanted discussion on “The Takeaway” radio show on KERA, Dallas/Fort Worth.  This show, sponsored by the New York Times, has never mentioned any ideas other than “progressive” ones.  The criticism of the conservatives, and Donald Trump is non-stop.  This show is as leftish as it gets.

John Hockenberry, was talking to the Istanbul correspondent for “buzzfeed.com” about the terrorist shootings at a nightclub there.  While describing the turmoil and confusion, secular and religious accusations, the correspondent said something to the effect of “this is what I fear when Donald Trump takes office in the US.”; and we are supposed to be a democracy, and he did not really win.” What???  Hockenberry referred to and repeated this negative notion when talking about how we can change ourselves in the new year.

(I have my own discussion of the electoral college vs popular vote in my blog, https://2thinkis2be.wordpress.com/2016/12/13/sour-grapes-over-electoral-college-congress-is-designed-exactly-like-it/

and I know that the popular vote rant is the last bastion of the losing candidate and her supporters.)

NPR and KERA tout their unbiased news, but this show is nothing like unbiased.  What can we do to keep such divisive and partisan programming off the air on public radio?

To:  ELIZABETH JENSEN, Npr ombudsman

From:  Von Smith, v.smith@von-mail.com, KERA

Date: 1/11/17

Once again, NPR gave 15 minutes of air time to an anti-Trump liberal to denigrate the president elect.  The former speech writer for Obama, expressed fear, dismay, disrespect, disappointment, and distain for Donald Trump’s election, wrapped in a “response” to President Obama’s farewell speech.  Why did the interviewer allow and include these unrelated, partisan comments?

Where is the objectivity, civility, and courtesy, or at least someone expressing an opposing view?

On another front, a program featuring Cokie Roberts, was promoted earlier this morning.

Her February, 2016 opinion column condemning Donald Trump (http://cjonline.com/opinion/2016-02-26/steve-and-cokie-roberts-gop-must-stop-trump-now#), triggered this response:

“NPR’s senior vice president for news and editorial director, Michael Oreskes, said the opinion column indicates Roberts has not been sufficiently identified to listeners as a commentator. Additionally, he wrote in a memo to staffers that news executives would work with her to refine the contours of her job.”

 http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/03/14/470340825/npr-clarifies-cokie-roberts-role-after-anti-trump-column

Exactly what refinements have been instituted?  Have her opinions changed?

“Commentator,” and “Pundit,” are terms for advocate or proponent or partisan that many people misunderstand, versus, “Journalist,” or “Reporter,” or “Unbiased.”  “Political Commentator,” still does not clarify her positions on current affairs.  At minimum, NPR should state her political position when introducing her (and any other person expressing political beliefs)

In a March, 2016 blog, Cokie Roberts, NPR and the impossibility of objectivity, Mark Swain gave this reference”

In an interview with Roberts on Monday morning, NPR host David Greene (http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/03/14/470340825/npr-clarifies-cokie-roberts-role-after-anti-trump-column) said this to Roberts: “Objectivity is so fundamental to what we do. Can you blame people like me for being a little disappointed to hear you come out and take a personal position on something like this in a campaign?”

 Roberts very sensibly explained that she was not a full-time reporter covering politics but a commentator engaging in commentary, and implied furthermore that Donald Trump’s rise is the kind of exceptional situation that demands greater assertiveness on the part of someone like her. “There are times in our history,” she told Greene, “when you might be disappointed if I didn’t take a position like that.”

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2016/03/15/cokie-roberts-npr-and-the-impossibility-of-objectivity/?utm_term=.df011687d51d

In August, last year, she called Trump supporters “morally tainted,” on MSNBC

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cokie-roberts-donald-trump_us_57b45b9fe4b0edfa80da567c

Spotlighting Cokie Roberts, in addition to programs such as “The Takeaway,” “Latino USA,” “Fresh Air,” etc., make me question the neutrality of the “news” on NPR.

 

 

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