Tea and Disinformation: NPR Panders to the Far-Right

Posted: January 25, 2012 in All Posts, Media, Tea Party
Tags: , , ,

By Alex Constantine 

Since the jingoistic Tea Party this way came, National Public Radio has given the angry “patriots” periodic, unquestioning promo spots, tsked a few corporate sponsors and the occasional “extremist”-  a ubiquitous media euphemism for “fascist” – but has pretended not to know of the darkest strains of this toxic beverage, as if perpetually searching for words to describe it.

White supremacy isn’t an issue at NPR.

But just look at the “public” network’s toxic corporate funding: John M. Olin, the Bradley and Sloan Foundations, a slue of intelligence/ultra-con funding conduits, almost without exception. Funds for state propaganda from the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, on and on, affect us, an onslaught of “conservative” mental progamming that nearly rivals the smirky blather of Fox News.

“What does the Party – or Parties – believe in?” asks a perky morning NPR voice – but no clear answers are forthcoming. Neither are serious criticisms found elsewhere in the media, ranking legislative candidate ties to neo-Nazis, ties of their financiers to the ultra-con Birch Society.

Instead, even Robert Scheer, generally trusted by his liberal listeners, seemingly hasn’t heard of all that, and has voiced his support of the Tea Party repeatedly because he shares “their anger at the banks.” So he gives them a plug. He goes so far as to praise Ron Paul. (And Scheer’s unabashed admiration of Reagan leaves one with no choice but to write him off as hopelessly myopic.) The neo-Nazi and Bircher connections are waved away as inconvenient distractions – “over on the left,” Bob Scheer admires them, anyways.

The public radio network has been the Tea Party’s national soapbox, a place to get away with “astroturf” claims unchallenged, to hide behind “Constitution” and “small government” … and never explain what those code-words for fascism mean exactly to the wealthy, “grass-roots” constituents of the far-right Tea Party.

Yet conservative media commentators – in a ploy intended to drive the media to the right –  grind their molars endlessly over “liberal bias” at NPR.

A UCLA Study Found NPR to be “to the Right of the Washington Post” (Once Published by CIA propaganda recruit Phil Graham … Until he Shot Himself in te Head because He Believed the CIA was trying to Kill Him … )

Excerpt: “All Programs Considered,” by Bill McKibben, New York Review of Books, November 11, 2010

It seems churlish to criticize even mildly the flagship public radio news shows—their reliable excellence deserves lavish praise. In recent years, though, it’s started becoming clearer that, for all their polish, the big shows like All Things Considered suffer from some of the same constraints that plague other parts of elite American journalism. They aim for a careful political balance—one academic study found their list of guests slightly to the right of The Washington Post, and “approximately equal to those of Time, Newsweek, and US News and World Report. That’s not a particularly interesting place to be, and it may explain why, especially in the Bush years, many left-of-center listeners defected to Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now!, a highly professional but ideologically engaged daily hour on the Pacifica network. ….

Allegations of elitism and the status quo

A 2004 study published by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting found a solid conservative bias at National Public Radio. ‘NPR’s guestlist shows the radio service relies on the same elite and influential sources that dominate mainstream commercial news, and falls short of reflecting the diversity of the American public.”

UW survey: CNN, NPR spread Tea Party’s message

By John Gastil

Conservatives decry “National Liberal Radio” or, more plausibly, the leftward slant of MSNBC, whereas liberals mock the “fair and balanced” moniker of Fox News. 

The first year of the Tea Party movement … represents a new and vocally conservative actor that might tempt different media outlets to cover it in ways that reflect underlying biases. 

To test for such prejudice, the University of Washington undergraduate students in my Political Deliberation course created a series of content analytic categories that they applied to a representative sampling of 55 news articles from April 2009 to April 2010. … Extracted from the websites of Fox News, NPR, and CNN, this sample is small, but some of its findings are striking. At the very least, a careful look at these articles suggests interesting differences—and surprising similarities—in how these outlets have covered the Tea Party. … Students calculated the number of lines in each article that suggested how the Tea Party was affecting each party, and from this, I calculated a simple index from minus 10 to plus 10 to measure the Tea Party’s impact. 

On balance, CNNs reporting suggested that the Tea Party would hurt the GOP a little (-5) but have no effect on the Democrats. NPR suggested it could hurt both parties (-6 for GOP, -4 for Dems), and Fox News’ reporting suggested it would be a net benefit for the GOP (+5) and devastating for the Dems (-10). 

Next, consider how the media report on the general public’s sentiments toward the Tea Party. To date, every poll conducted has shown divided public opinion, with many Americans supporting the Tea Party and many others opposing it. Nonetheless, every one of the media outlets was more likely to include text indicating public support for the Tea Party than text indicating public opposition. NPR and Fox had roughly equal numbers, with three-quarters of their articles mentioning public support compared to only two-thirds noting opposition, whereas CNN devoted relatively few lines to either sentiment. 

NPR stood out compared to CNN and Fox as the most likely to include in its stories the voices of ordinary citizens, along with Tea Party participants and organizers. NPR also showed the clearest imbalance in sourcing. These articles quoted seven Republicans for every Democrat. …

NPR [showed] the clearest imbalance in sourcing. …  A quarter of the articles included Tea Party organizers compared to almost none featuring anti-Tea Party citizen demonstrators or activists. 

Source: http://crosscut.com/2010/06/03/politics-government/19852/UW-survey:-CNN,-NPR-spread-Tea-Party-s-message/

Citing comments dating to the Nixon administration, the FAIR report said, “That NPR harbors a liberal bias is an article of faith among many conservatives.” However, it added, “Despite the commonness of such claims, little evidence has ever been presented for a left bias at NPR.”

NPR spokeswoman Jenny Lawhorn responded, “This is America – any group has the right to criticize our coverage. That said, there are obviously a lot of intelligent people out there who listen to NPR day after day and think we’re fair and in-depth in our approach.”

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