Letters to NPR sucks!
I've got plenty of mail commenting on my web site — a majority negative, a few even hostile. Almost without exception, my critics have a penchant for four-letter words, many have trouble with spelling. Here are some of of my favorite hate mails:
Subject: fuck yeah!
Hi! My name is ryan, i am a radio and community media activist who has worked and is working with various projects and organizations, currently Cascadia Media Alliance and Radio X in Seattle. I fight NPR, both for their blatant opposition to true community and uncensored radio as well as their status as National Public Relations. An organization I work with, Cascadia Media Alliance, is currently organizing for a week of protests, teach-ins, workshops, education, and direct action against the Nat'l Association of Broadcasters conference to take place in Seattle september 12-14th. We would like to invite you to be one of our allies. Please check out our website at www.reclaimthemedia.org. I found your site because my cohort jonathan j from www.microradio.net was going to register it if someone else hadn't! Resist their new anti-link policy, too…
From: M Johnson
Subject: Thanks, NPR
You don't like NPR exposing Israel's brutal treatment of the Palestinians with your money. Apparently it doesn't bother you that Israel's universally condemned illegal occupation and inhumane treatment of the Palestinians is funded by your money to the tune of billions a year. What a fuckhead.
From: Jeremy Anderson
Ohmigod! I am SO thankful!
Another site pointing out that great liberal media bias, and at NPR no less! Thank you so much for pointing this out!
And why does it matter? Because NPR is done with YOUR tax money. You know, against my better judgement, I may have to write a letter to my congressman advising that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting be abolished completely. Why? Because the "IT'S MY TAX MONEY" argument is the one that knuckle-dragging Neandrathals like yourself keep harping on again and again. Moreover, it's a trivial quantity of money. The TOTAL funding for the CPBs radio programming grants was 76 million dollars in FY 2001, out of a total budget of over 2 trillion dollars. Dig out your Y2K tax returns. Take 76 million, divide by 2 trillion, and multiply by your total contribtion to Uncle Sam. If you personally kicked in more than two dollars of your taxes to public radio I would be extremely surprised.
Mostly, you have utterly wasted your time. There are 10,000 other websites, commentators, dittoheads etc. who keep repeating this like a broken record. The entire concept of bias is flawed from the start. The assumption that there is something called "political neutrality" which is as quantifable as a statute mile or a kilogram. No such thing exists of course. It's used by conservatives to whine and complain about everyone to the left of their point of view (i.e. everybody except Fox News and the Washington Times), and more rarely by loopy lefties to whine and complain about corporate influence in everyone to the right of their point of view (i.e. everybody except Pacifica and indymedia.org).
Take up a hobby. Grow flowers. Start a business which contributes enough in taxes that your contribution to NPR would even buy a blue plate special down at the diner. Leave the harping on media bias to paid professionals who have something to gain from this stupid argument.
Mr. Anderson's letter is remarkable for two reasons: first, it is more thoughtful than most of my hate mail (and less fraught with spelling errors), but also because he guessed right that I am a Neanderthal man. I was born just a few miles away from the cave where the first skeletal remains of the Neanderthal man were discovered. Neanderthal is a small village near the town of Düsseldorf, located in the lovely Neander valley.
It is true as well that the support for NPR represents only a very small fraction of the federal budget and that significant contributions come from other sources, such as state budgets, institutions of higher learning, foundations, and the listeners of public radio. Nevertheless, I believe that few of them — with the possible exception of trial lawyers — like to see their dollars spent for partisan causes. It is the letter P in NPR that calls for the even-handedness that we rightfully expect from public institutions.
From: Wyatt James
Subject: You're Clearly an Idiot
Given what I just read from your site, my subject line is appropriate. NPR new is by far the most balanced and informative of any of the commercial or alternate news services available. Given the tiny amount of tax dollars allotted to NPR, I think you've got your head planted where the sun isn't shining and need to either pull it out or get a freakin clue. I never agree with all the comments, interviewees or even choice of subject matter, but over time I'm completely confident that people like me and most mainstream Americans are making these choices. If you've got time enuf on your hands to create a website and critique and whine, then you need more to do. Get a clue guy, cause its your type of ignorance that SUCKS, not NPR news.
From: Thomas T. Tucker
The [public] funding is to encourage education and debate, which is the core of a free nation. You're an ass.
From: Scott Deck
NPR reports the facts.
if you are to ignorant or stupid to see beyond your own biases then that is your fucking problem.
just look at the first letter on your page.
ryan (fuck, yeah) doesn't like NPR because of their "their blatant opposition to true community and uncensored radio."
what the hell does this mean. NPR is possibly the most censore free major media outlet around (thanks to the bush adminstration)[.]
I wonder who ryan thinks promotes uncensored news, fuckin FOX.
As for your complaint that NPR wants to make you a better man, I'm not sure to what you are refering, other then the fact that they run many programs which could educate you if were open to being educated, however people such as yourself obviously prefer to choose their stance and then ossify, as opposed to keeping an open mind.
Since NPR is mostly directed towards open-mided people i can see why you hold such a strong resentment.
From: Vic Nath
Subject: Are you stupid??
are you so stupid that you ignore all the rightwing people as guests on NPR?
Let's have a bet. every time a right-wing guest appears on NPR, you pay me $100. And every time NPR has a left-wing guest I will pay you $100. By "left-wing" I mean as evidenced by support for anti-business positions on say trade, fiscal policy(favoring a pro-growth policy via investment in higher education, social security), monetary policy (via criticism of Greenspan's anti-inflation policies in favor of more "full-employment" policies), war (ie: peace activists as opposed to pro-war military officials). Are you up for the bet? Or were you raised to be a little rightwing chickenshit by your ugly mom who is more dumb than you are????
From: Johann Olivier [?]
Subject: In truth…you suck!
AsI look at your picture — another fat, ignorant, selfish opinionated American — I see the personification of what is wrong with this once great country…
Spend less time typing your demented propaganda and move your legs… It may be a revelation. Blood may flow to the extremities…
Thank god (yes, you raving Fundamentalist: a small 'g'!) for NPR. They cast some light in the darker reaches of the dense Cro-Magnon minds that reside in bloated American bodies…such as yours!
But, then, I'm sure you're being financially supported by some part of the Republican machine… Jeez…you are probably not even real…
Hey, if you are 'real'…get some exercise…read a little…listen to NPR…read some international publications… I promise you, you'll like yourself more…
A caring mate!
I was deeply moved and a bit flattered that Mr. Olivier would care so much about my physical well-being. In my reply — I answer all my e-mail — I wrote:
Dear Mr. Olivier,
Thanks for your sound medical advice!
I always get the same advice from my wife who is a lawyer. I usually retaliate by giving her some sound legal advice from a medical doctor.
Nevertheless, you are probably right.
From: Zamboni Driver
Subject: –ber Ihre Website Herr Rick…
What's so funny about your website is that me and you both hate NPR, but I hate it for it's being waaaaaay to conservative and corporate and for it's endless Orwellian Bush brown-nosing; while you somehow think it's liberal! Was haben Sie geraucht, Herr Rick? Meth? Crack? Opium? All of the above at once?
NPR is ANYTHING but liberal, dude. They've even been busted by FAIR for cherry picking facts and analysis about the Iraq invasion, the economy, the Bush administration...the list is endless. You must be an undercover shill for the White House or something; or just really, really ignorant.
It's common knowledge among [Independents], Progressives, or Liberals that the LAST place to get accurate news on current events is NPR! There are numerous far better news sources, which I won't mention here as you presumably would not find them interesting. I am neither liberal or conservative, and tire of this endless obsession of labelling people either/or — instead of dealing with issues directly. I find problems with both liberals and conservatives. If you can tell me, with a straight face, that Fox News, Phil [sic] O'Reilly, and Ann Coulter are excellent news sources and highly [intelligent] people, [then] I rest my case, have nothing more to say to you, and bid you good day. NPR is far less biased than the bile and vitriol spewed by such hate-mongers as these. Toss in Sean Hannity for good measure.
If you are a person who grew up in Nazi Germany, perhaps you are quite happy with current developments in my country then? Do you admire Führer Bush? Do you admire his flagrant abuse and disregard of the Constitution? As you probably know, the U.S. Army air-lifted hundreds of S.S. and Nazi military elites (and their families!) to the USA immediately after the fall of Berlin. They immediately started working for the U.S. Army. Now look what we have. What a tragedy.
With a German e-mail address and a few German words thrown in, how can I not respond to [the] letter?
Dear Zamboni Driver,
You are right, FAIR conducted a study that put NPR on the right of the political spectrum. As FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) itself is a liberal group, the result is anything but surprising. When you are out there on the left field, everything else seems to be on the right. One of the things that inevitably led FAIR to the conclusion that NPR is conservative was to list the Brookings Institution — a think tank with close Democratic and union ties — as conservative.
In poll after poll, the media are shown to have a liberal bias, and in many of these NPR ranks as the most liberal of them all. True, it is possible that the public is on the right and NPR is in the center as Brooke Gladstone, host of NPR's On the Media, might argue, but that does not change the fact that NPR is to the left of where the rest of us stand.
You say that it's common knowledge among independents, progressives, or liberals that the last place to get accurate news is on NPR. I might agree with you there, but why are you excluding conservatives and moderates? Is it that you can't say anything about their common knowledge because you are not one of them?
As to your tidbit about German history: the Americans were not anywhere close to Berlin when the city fell to the red army. While a number of German scientists and Abwehr agents were taken to the United States, this was not "immediately after the fall of Berlin." By no stretch of imagination, they were the Nazi elite. In fact, the Abwehr was dissolved before the end of the war because Hitler thought that it was in cahoots with the enemy.
Of course, I also enjoy getting words of encouragement from you. Thus, if you are so inclined, click here to send me a letter.
I get fan mail too. In fact, lately the number of supportive letters exceeds the number of disparaging letters. Perhaps, some of you are worried that I might stop writing if I don't receive some encouragement. Or, perhaps, the flamers are getting tired of typing.
Letters from supporters are mostly carefully crafted and contain few — if any — spelling errors, perhaps a sign that they are older and better educated, or merely evidence that they know how to use the spell-checker.
Here's a fine example:
From: Jeffrey Smith
Subject: Is Anybody Listening?
I have felt compelled for some time to begin an effort, with whatever ability I can muster, to give voice to my concern over the blatant trashing of conservative virtues by seemingly every angle of NPR.
Thankfully, I don't have to be in my car for long trips very often, but the morning and evening drive usually finds me searching for intelligent life on the radio. Inevitably I end up at NPR once or twice per week.
It truly is an amazing station with incredible resources, the best sound, often fascinating off-beat articles that are brilliantly conceived and executed. I am and have been an avid fan of Prairie Home Companion since the 80's and Car Talk (the only unbiased show I've heard) regularly since the late nineties. I did write Land's End one time about a particularly offensive remark by Garrison Keillor once. I did not get a reply.
My frustration, of course, is the fact that they are partly supported by federal funds. Were they not, then there is no argument as I respect the freedom of speech avidly. Were they not, I'd probably send them donations as I do enjoy so much of the high-quality programming.
However, the culture clearly views conservative people as "idiots". This was an off-the-cuff comment by one panelist on the game show, "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me". I don't particularly like the show, but I did have a long drive that day. The whole panel and the host got a big ho, ho as this clearly is a pervasive theme and someone actually said it.
One of the most common traits of the more vociferous liberals is their predisposition to resort to name-calling. In fairness, some of the windier conservative voices do the same (and I hate that).
Then, Sunday, listening to the rerun of Saturday's "Prairie Home Companion", Garrison made reference to the "Tax Breaks Being Given to the Rich" in a clearly political statement disguised as a comedy routine. I respect his right to express his views, but not with Federal Money.
I see by a few of the letters posted (wherein that penchant for name-calling is so very apparent) that supporters of NPR's fair and balanced reporting and non-biased views that there is a minimizing of the materiality of the tax dollars used to support its programming. If it is so immaterial, why doesn't NPR quit using the money altogether and then we would have no right to complain? (And I wouldn't.)
For now though, I am going to write Porter Goss and get as much information together as possible. I certainly respect the gifted individuals on NPR, but their anti-conservative voice needs some checks and balances.
I will certainly direct Congressman Goss's staff to view your website.
Another fine example:
From: David Kimball
Dear Mr. [Rick],
I assume that by now you have found that NPR will not police itself and that Mr. Jeffrey Dvorkin is just "window dressing."
The real problem is with The Corporation For Public Broadcasting (CPB). CPB was created as a congressionally funded corporation in 1967 during the Johnson administration. It is the parent organization and dispenser of funds to NPR, Public Television and the various state public television channels. CPB has a budget of $2.3 billion for 2004,17% or $400 million of which comes from public funds. This annual $400 million is appropriated by the U.S. House Committee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education. Congress gives this money to CPB with no strings attached, i.e., no control over editorial comment. CPB then passes on to NPR, their share under the same conditions.
There are no annual congressional oversight committee hearing[s] for CPB regarding their stewardship of public funds although the CPB president makes a statement to a committee at her pleasure (approximately every three or four years), but no questions are asked by the committee, see here before The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
CPB has an Inspector General named Kenneth Konz. He reports to CPB as well as to the U.S. Congress. When I contacted the respective committees I was told that I should not contact the[m] except through my U.S. Representative. His office manager told me that there would more than likely be no oversight committee hearings but that she would pass my concerns on the the congressman. She further stated that we must uphold "freedom of the press." I told her that under our free enterprise system, the free market determines what products, including broadcast content is worthy of purchase. We vote with our dollars, our T.V. remote controls and our radio tuners. Arbitrary public funding to an entity such as CPB is not the American way, especially when there is no public accounting required.
NPR News and Fresh Air are the two segments that I have the most objections to. I would be interested in hearing your comments on the above.
Regards, David Kimball
In a breakdown of the 2.3 billion spent for public broadcasting in FY2002 (i.e., radio plus television), direct and indirect contributions from listeners and viewers account for 26%, the federal government for 17.9% (most of it through the CPB), state and local governments for 16.6%, and state and other public colleges for 9.1% of the total revenues. Thus, even without adding in the contributions from underwriting businesses, foundations, or private colleges, involuntary contributions by taxpayers (43.6%) are almost double the amount contributed by members.