NPR: the Voices and Views of One Side
By Helen Redmond
March 05, 2012
National Public Radio.
National Pay or Play Radio.
Spring Pledge Drive, 2012.
Hosts beg and cajole on air hour after hour, day after
day for money.
They creatively and with cool music in the background
alternately shame and praise listeners to pony up part
of the paycheck.
And promise membership cards, mugs, and messenger bags
NPR is your radio station.
Send money; get "unbiased" reporting.
Send money; hear the views "of all sides."
According to Gabriel Spitzer.
And Melba Lara.
And Scott Simon. Host of Weekend Edition. Saturday.
Simon supported the war in Afghanistan.
Simon: "It seems to me that in confronting the forces
that attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon,
American pacifists have no sane alternative now but to
support the war. I don't consider this reprisal or
revenge, but self-defense: protecting the world from
further attacks by destroying those who would launch
Simon says. Sir, yes, sir.
Simon's salary: $300,648.
Steve Inskeep. "My job is to bring an unvarnished view
of what's happening around the world every day."
The tone of Inskeep's voice changes when he interviews
Palestinians, Pakistanis, and Iranians vs. Israelis,
Saudi's, CEOs, and US government officials.
Hostile, disbelieving, aggressive for the former.
Cordial, obsequious, passive for the latter.
Inskeep's salary: $331,241.
I admit I listen and I don't pay.
Because NPR doesn't air the views of all sides.
All things are not considered.
The so-called "experts" NPR interviews are pro-
government, pro-war, and promote the ideas of right-
wing think tanks. A faction of former national security
advisors, defense department officials, ambassadors,
ex-pentagon generals, and military commanders.
Inside the DC beltway.
The government to K-street, to think tank, to NPR
Those are the opinions and views heard in the vast
majority of stories.
I know because after stories air, I google the website
the expert represents.
The websites use words like: nonpartisan, principled,
independent, strong, pragmatic, quality, benchmarking,
innovative, strategic, impact.
Distinguished, deep thinkers thinking about good
governance, rule of law, nuclear proliferation,
counterterrorism, cybersecurity, 21st century defense,
metrics, kinetics, energy security, failed states,
nation building, geoeconomics, transparency, emerging
markets, saving behavior, managing global order.
Like the Brookings Institution.
An NPR story titled: Technological Innovations Help
Dictators See All.
Weekend Edition host Rachel Martin. Sunday. She
interviewed an expert.
John Villasenor. Senior Fellow.
Martin asks: "Give us some real-world examples. How
could this play out in a country like Syria?"
Villasenor: "Well, in countries like Syria, there's no
reason to expect that governments won't take advantage
of every possible technological tool at their disposal
to monitor their citizenry. Smartphones, and the apps
that run on smartphones, very often track location in
an authoritarian country."
C'mon Rachel! Syria?
How many Syrians do you think own Smartphones?
How many Americans do you think own Smartphones?
The American surveillance state intercepts and stores
1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of
communications every day!
Why not talk about that?
They didn't talk about that.
An NPR story titled: As Drones Evolve, More Countries
Want Their Own.
Talk of the Nation host Neal Conan interviewed an
The Brookings Institution Senior Fellow:
"And so, you know, unfortunately we have a long history
of machines essentially engaging in killing, and so I
think when people are designing - figuring out how to
use drones, we have to keep in mind that, you know,
there's already been a precedent of these things and
try to improve upon that."
You lost me. Precedent? Improve on what?
Villasenor didn't mention that American drones have
killed hundreds of civilians in Pakistan and
Conan doesn't ask.
For experts like Villasenor, civilian deaths are
unfortunate but inevitable collateral damage in the war
I think they're crimes against humanity.
Drone attacks are remote control terrorism.
That is my opinion.
But I'm no expert.
And NPR doesn't want to hear my side.
Council on Foreign Relations.
An NPR story titled: Obama sends 30,000 More Troops to
All Things Considered host Michele Norris interviewed
Max Boot is the "Jeane J. Kirkpatrick" Senior Fellow
National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign
Norris: ".based on what you heard tonight, do you think
the president went far enough?"
Boot: "I mean, the parts that I really liked and I
thought were terrific were when he talked about that we
have a vital national interest in Afghanistan. We have
to be there to prevent a cancer from, once again,
spreading throughout that country."
The US military counterinsurgency won't let cancer
metastasize in Afghanistan.
But the troops can't save everyone. Millions of Afghans
are at the end stage.
Of the "Great Game."
There is no morphine to kill the pain.
An article by Max Boot on the recent clashes in
Afghanistan over the burning of Qurans.
Title: Afghans Don't Hate Americans.
The Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow:
"Many Americans seem to be saying that if the
Afghan people don't want us there, why should we
stay? That's dubious logic because we are not in
Afghanistan as a favor to the Afghan people. We are
there to protect our own self-interest in not
having their territory once again become a haven
I think the American people are right.
The US military shouldn't stay in Afghanistan.
That's not dubious logic.
It's smart logic.
I think Afghans hate the troops for occupying their
country and killing their people.
I can understand that. I would, too.
I don't believe Afghans hate all Americans.
Like Max Boot and other Senior Fellows at right-wing
Who want to continue the war, occupation, targeted
assassinations, sanctions, night raids, kill-capture
operations, and drone strikes.
But I'm no expert. Nor are the American people.
And NPR doesn't want to hear our views.
We didn't write two books about war like Boot did:
War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of
History, 1500 to Today.
The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of
Check out the search engine for stories at NPR's
Search for the following: American Enterprise
Institute, Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment
for International Peace, Center for a New American
Security, Center for Strategic and International
Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Royal United
A ton of hits.
A ton of expert opinion and analysis of the world.
You'll be amazed.
Or maybe you won't.
The voices and views of one side.
I listen, but I won't pay.
Helen Redmond is an independent journalist. She writes
about health care and the international war on drugs.
She can be reached at [log in to unmask]
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