To be fair, it's just NPR News that sucks; the other parts of National Public Radio offer very fine programming. And, much of what can be said about NPR applies to other public radio news shows too; PRI's The World and American Public Media's Marketplace may be even worse offenders.
NPR distorts the truth, routinely takes sides on issues that, as a news organization, it should report about in an unbiased fashion, and — most annoying of it all — it wants to reform me, make me a better person, very much like the Communists tried to create the brave New Man.
Why do I care? I care because NPR spends federal tax dollars doing it. If you want to broadcast your views about saving the rain forest, dangers of smoking, mean House Republicans, greedy oil companies, irresponsible gun owners, same-sex marriage, or the plight of the Palestinian people, do it with your own money — not mine.
Of course, I am not the only one critizising the network. To enjoy a liberal critique of NPR, go to Mr. X from Planet X. His observations mainly address issues of global warming.
Seattle Labor Chorus
The day America embarked on air strikes against Bin Laden's interests in Afghanistan, NPR has a hard time finding anybody in Seattle to support the strikes. Morning Edition's Robert Smith, after running into just one "self-proclaimed" patriot, finally winds up in a hastily assembled peace demonstration in front of the Federal Building to record a typical American reaction:
It is stuff like this that makes my blood circulate a little faster.
Mumia supporters in San Francisco
The hiring of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a convicted murderer and death row inmate, as commentator for All Things Considered is perhaps the most glaring example of NPR's radical bent. Only after protests from contributors and subscribing radio stations (and a not-so-subtle threat of Congress to cut funding) NPR dropped the plan. In return, Jamal filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit, alleging that his right to free speech had been violated.
It must have been hard for ATC to let go of Jamal: after all, there aren't too many death row inmates who are sufficiently articulate. As a black man and convicted cop killer, death penalty opponents saw in him a victim of a judicial system intent on putting blacks behind bars ("end the racial death penalty"). As a former Black Panther, progressives saw in him the avantgarde of the second American Revolution, promising to free us all from the yoke of capitalism.
Soviet spy and icon of the Left, Alger Hiss
Another case that annoyed many public radio listeners was an interview with Alger Hiss, former high-level State Department official and, for a while, head of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The host failed to mention that Hiss had served time as a convicted communist spy. Of course, for progressives Hiss will always be the innocent victim of Richard Nixon's political ambitions.
Here's more about NPR in the news:
If the glowing reviews on National Public Radio for "It Takes a Village, and Other Lessons Children Teach Us" by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Simon & Schuster, 1996) left you hungry for something a bit more substantial, here's a list of titles that I can recommend.
Having been a multiculturalist all my life — I played with a black baby doll and loved to sing "Zehn Kleine Negerlein" when I was a child — I do approve of the First Lady's attempt to bring a peculiar African perspective to the discussion about family values. What I resent is the bad (ghost) writing, the socialist bent of her thinking, and ripping off the title of a very nice children's book. The original (Jane Cowen-Fletcher, 1994) is the far better read.
I have sent a few e-mails and letters to NPR, but never got any response other than the usual computer-generated reply. It is not that my letters were particularly insightful and deserving to be read on the radio. What I had hoped for was a human being somewhere at NPR that actually reads letters and sends a few lines back. No such luck!
Ich bin ein Berliner!
From: Roger Rick
To: NPR Weekend Edition — Saturday
Dear Weekend Edition:
I am [a] German by birth and I listened to JFK's famous speech while I was still living there. It always amuses me when people who barely speak the language tell me that Kennedy made a fool of himself by saying that he was a doughnut. His mistake, I am told, was that he used the indefinite article ein before Berliner. The opposite is true. If Kennedy had said "Ich bin Berliner" it would have sounded strange to German ears; of course, we all knew that he was not from Berlin.
English and German are very similar with regard to the use of the indefinite article. Just listen to the "I am an American" campaign by the American Ad Council that flooded the airwaves after the terrorist attacks of September 11. Everybody in the ad claims to be "an American" to stress his or her solidarity with a group of people, rather than just a statement of nationality.
If you have written a letter to NPR News that you would like to share with others, send it to nprsucks.com. I will post it here, provided that it is of good taste and interest to a general audience. Please mention the date that you have mailed it and the name of the show that it was in reply to.
In Word Myths linguist David Wilton points out that in Berlin the delicacy is known as Pfannkuchen. One of the few places in Germany where the jelly doughnut is called a Berliner is the Rhineland. In Bavaria, the same sweet thing is known as Krapfen.