Tag Archives: NPR

POTUS seeks to control news information flow

Donald J. Trump’s reported anger over first lady Melania Trump’s desire to watch CNN aboard Air Force One brings to mind a curious conversation I had with a key staffer who worked for U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Clarendon Republican who represents the 13th Congressional District of Texas.

Trump wants all the TVs on the presidential jet to be tuned to Fox News, his favorite news/commentary network. He considers CNN and other news networks to be purveyors of “fake news.” What makes ’em “fake”? They report news the president deems to be negative. I presume he’s issued the same edict for the TV sets throughout the White House.

So, negativity equals “fake news.” Got it?

OK, back to my conversation with the Thornberry staffer.

We were visiting some years ago. I was working for the Amarillo Globe-News. This individual was talking about a news report she heard. She then told me in a hushed voice over the phone that she heard the report “on NPR.”

Oh, my! Heaven forbid! A staffer for a conservative Republican member of Congress would get her news from National Public Radio! She didn’t want it heard, I guess, by her fellow staffers that she was listening to NPR.

I laughed at her over the phone. She happens to be a friend and we have had a very constructive and productive professional relationship over the years.

I was able to needle her about NPR and the myth that the publicly funded radio network was somehow a progressive mouthpiece for left-leaning politicians.

It isn’t. Public radio reporters and other staffers have informed me over the years about how they were schooled in the manner they should describe public policy. For instance, one NPR news hound informed that the Affordable Care Act would not be referred to on the air as a “reform” measure; “reform” connoted an improvement over the current system. The term that NPR reporters were instructed to use is “overhaul.”

Are we clear? Good!

Time to pray for a stranded soccer team

Let’s bow our heads and pray.

A dozen boys and their coach need the world’s prayers. They are stranded deep in a sprawling cave in Thailand.

How they got stuck in the case, trapped by raging flood water, is almost moot at this point. A team of British divers found the boys alive and apparently in reasonably good health. None of them has suffered any serious injury.

They are hungry. They haven’t eaten in about a week.

But this story is going to get dicey quickly.

According to NPR.com, the Thai government is predicting stormy weather that could impede rescue efforts. The word we’re getting is that the boys and their coach might need to dive their way out; they’ll have to don SCUBA gear and swim to safety.

It’s a treacherous procedure, according to reports. I understand none of the boys can swim. They’ve never dived before. They’ll be accompanied by expert divers.

I’m trying to grasp the terror in these boys’ minds as they know they’ve been found, but that it might be weeks before they are able to escape their entrapment.

They need nourishment to be sure.

They also need the world’s prayers. I’m sending them all the good karma I can muster up.

No plans to ID the latest shooting suspect

David Brooks is one of my favorite conservative columnists.

He writes for the New York Times and is a regular weekly contributor to PBS’s “NewsHour” and can be heard on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” evening news broadcast.

He said something today on NPR I want to endorse in a full-throated fashion. Brooks said in a discussion with E.J. Dionne, the Washington Post columnist, that he dislikes it when the media identify individuals suspected of mass shootings.

I agree. Wholeheartedly.

Thus, I won’t identify the young man arrested today after the Santa Fe High School massacre near Galveston. I didn’t ID the Sutherland Springs, Texas, shooter, or the Parkland, Fla., gunman, or the Las Vegas sniper, or the Orland, Fla., terrorist. And on and on …

Brooks’s rationale for asking that the media not ID these individuals is that he believes giving these individuals publicity emboldens future madmen from committing copy cat crimes.

Bingo, Mr. Brooks!

I’m in your corner.

Yes, I have posted the names of some of history’s more notorious assassins: Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan, James Earl Ray. Of those three, only Sirhan is still living. I see these individuals in a bit of a different light than the mass murderers who commit the heinous crimes that have become all too common place in contemporary society.

I accept fully David Brooks’s reason for seeking to refuse to give these alleged losers any more publicity than they deserve.

Which is none. Zero. Zip.

NPR: masters of audio editing

My career in print journalism enabled me to do some very cool things, see some fabulous places, cover compelling stories — and it exposed me to the magic of other media.

I want to offer a good word or three to National Public Radio.

I was given an opportunity, as the editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News, on three occasions to take part in NPR interviews. Two of them involved the 2008 presidential election. NPR wanted to chronicle the outlook on the election as it appeared to us in the Texas Panhandle; the other party in the interviews was Kevin Riley, editor of the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News. NPR sought the views of editors from disparate regions of the country: heavily Republican Texas and “swing-state” southern Ohio.

The other interview involved President Obama’s economic stimulus package and its impact on our respective regions.

Here is what I wrote in February 2010:

NPR reaches out to the heartland

What I want to recall briefly here is how deftly NPR edited my comments to make them suitable for airing on the public airwaves.

High Plains Public Radio — an NPR affiliate — had a recording studio in downtown Amarillo. I was able to go to the studio and take part in the interview with the Washington, D.C.-based “Morning Edition” program.

What astounded me at the time — and still boggles my mind to this day — is how well NPR edited my comments. They eliminated the occasional stammer and extraneous verbiage without changing the context of my statements to the NPR interviewer. Kevin Riley, the other person being interviewed, sounded much more comfortable with radio. As for myself, it’s not my thing and I was nervous as the dickens every time I took part in this process.

It’s a remarkable skill that continues to amaze me.

NPR receives criticism from time to time, mostly from conservatives who allege the network has a “liberal bias.” My own experience with NPR did not reveal any such bias. I found NPR to be professional to the “nth” degree.

Moreover, the editors at NPR exhibited a magician’s skill at making a nervous newspaper editor sound like an experienced hand at radio.

Weaken libel laws? No can do, Mr. President

Donald John Trump wants to make it easier to sue publications for libel. The president vowed to change laws he called a “sham” and a “disgrace.”

Really, Mr. President?

He made the vow at the start of a Cabinet meeting in the White House.

Where can I start? I’ll give it a shot.

Trump said journalists cannot write stories that are knowingly false and then smile while they count their money as it pours into their bank account.

True enough, Mr. President. Except that current libel laws ensure that those who publish “knowingly false” stories are punished.

As for whether the federal government can rewrite the law, I need to remind Donald Trump that the U.S. Constitution declares in the First Amendment that there should be a “free press” that is allowed to do its job without government interference.

The founders wanted to ensure that a free press could function without fear of intimidation and, thus, established a high bar for public officials to clear if they decide to sue for libel.

The object of Trump’s tirade clearly is the publication of “Fire and Fury,” the highly controversial book written by journalist Michael Wolff, who reports some mighty scathing remarks from former and current White House staffers who had some disparaging things to say about Donald Trump. The president calls it all fiction; Wolff, of course, stands by his reporting in the book.

National Public Radio reports: And this is hardly the first time Trump has railed against libel laws, which as a matter of practice are made by the states and backed by a U.S. Supreme Court precedent that sets a high bar for public figures wanting to prove libel.

So, what is left for Trump to do? He can nominate Supreme Court justices who are willing to water down the First Amendment. However, he then sets up a proverbial “litmus test” for potential appointees.

Would he dare ask them prior to selecting them whether they would pledge a sort of loyalty to the president by agreeing beforehand to rule favorably on a libel case that comes before the nation’s highest court?

Now that I think about it, I believe he would … to his shame!

Trump’s war on the media keeps getting hotter.

Frightening … and dangerous.

Mind-boggling series of events keeps head spinning

My mind is officially boggled.

I awoke this morning, looked at my social media news feed and saw that NBC fired “Today” co-host Matt Lauer for “inappropriate sexual conduct.” It didn’t end with that stunning announcement.

Later today, I saw that NPR icon Garrison Keillor also has been let go by the public radio network for, um, similar conduct.

This is getting even more stunning than it was before.

NBC went straight for the throat in canning Lauer. The network didn’t wait for any further substantiation of the allegation that came from a network colleague. At this moment, I don’t even know the particulars of what the woman accused Lauer of doing to her.

The network acted immediately on hearing what I am going to presume it believes was a credible accusation.

Network news icons are falling like tall timber. Bill O’Reilly, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor. Those are just the biggest of the big names. Then we have the likes of Mark Halperin and Glenn Thrush who have lost their jobs over accusations of misbehavior with women.

When is this going to end?

I haven’t even mentioned — until this very minute — the accusations that have sullied the reputations of political leaders. It’s a bipartisan affliction.

I’m beginning to think that employers will need to revamp the applications they ask prospective employees to fill out. Many businesses ask applicants if they’ve ever been convicted of a felony. That’s fine.

They will now likely have to ask: Have you ever committed an act that someone could construe to be sexual harassment … or worse?

This wave of dismissals amid accusations looks for all the world like a purging that needs to occur.

Media getting the lashing they deserve

It hurts a bit to say this, but the so-called “mainstream media” are getting trashed — for the right reasons.

The media have been criticized for the slant of their coverage of news events, of politicians. Conservatives have labeled the MSM as tools of the liberal political establishment. I haven’t bought into that argument.

What’s happening now to the media, though, is an examination of a culture that seems to pervade it. We are witnessing the toppling of media heavyweights because of the way they behave toward women … allegedly.

Bill O’Reilly at Fox News: gone; Charlie Rose of CBS and PBS; he’s toast; Mark Halperin of MSNBC: he’s outta there; Glenn Thrush of the New York Times and MSNBC: he, too, is gone; Michael Oreskes of National Public Radio: see ya later.

What do these men have in common? They all were accused by women of making sexual advances on them, of committing acts of sexual harassment, of sexual abuse. The allegations include groping, prancing around in the nude, making inappropriate remarks … and some things I probably shouldn’t mention here because they’re in poor taste.

The word now is that media outlets are soul-searching. They are schooling their employees — the males at least — on how to behave, how to treat their female colleagues.

What gives this story its extra legs quite arguably is that the media have been covering the sexual misdeeds of others, namely politicians and entertainment tycoons. That coverage has exposed media companies — and the men who report and comment on others’ conduct — to the very revelations we have learned about their own behavior.

As Politico has reported: “We have robust policies in place and have become more focused on communicating those policies across the organization,” said New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha in an email. “In recent weeks, we’ve reminded employees of our Anti-Harassment, Equal Employment Opportunity, and Non-Discrimination policies and we’ve highlighted the many ways an employee can raise an issue or file a complaint, including through an anonymous hotline.”

That’s fine. Now it’s time for the Times and other media outlets to root out the bad actors within their ranks immediately.

Anthony Weiner … once more

So help me, I don’t know why I’m even remotely interested in Anthony Weiner.

But I am. Remotely interested, that is.

The former loudmouth New York Democratic congressman is facing a 21-month prison sentence for knowingly sending sexually explicit text messages to an underage girl.

This clown has destroyed his marriage to a brilliant political operative. He has shredded his own political career. He has made a mockery of himself and disgraced the New York congressional district voters who placed their trust in him to obey the law. Of the consequences mentioned here, I suppose the only one that gives me a mild case of regret is constituent trust he destroyed because of his shameful conduct.

Weiner is going to appeal his sentence. He ought to be thankful that’s all he got from the federal judge, Denise Cote. He could have faced a longer prison term. He’s also going to serve a three-year probationary period.

Here is now National Public Radio reported his sentencing.

Weiner made a bit of a national name for himself initially because he was such a gasbag while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. There was a particularly bizarre moment on the House floor when congress members were debating the cost of health care for first responders. Weiner exploded in anger that some Republicans opposed spending the amount of money that Weiner wanted spent.

This guy’s “sexting” escapades eventually became part of the story involving his wife and her work with the Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Whatever. He’s gone to trail. He’s been convicted. The judge has sentenced him to nearly two years in a federal lockup.

Please … now. Just go away.

NPR sought to pay tribute, and then …

National Public Radio has this tradition of delivering the words of the Declaration of Independence to its listeners.

Its intent is to pay tribute to the very foundation of this great nation. Ol’ Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration to inform King George III of the many grievances the colonies had against his ham-fisted rule.

Well, this year, NPR’s tweeting of the Declaration met some angry response. Some fans of Donald J. Trump thought NPR was calling for insurrection against the government led by the 45th president of the United States.

Seriously, I do not know whether to laugh, cry, scream, slap the side of my noggin, just throw up my hands in disgust … or just, well, throw up.

Check out the reaction

Some supporters of the president flipped out. They didn’t recognize the words of Declaration of Independence.

You’ve heard the saying about how “No good deed goes unpunished”?

Well. There you go, NPR.

 

Listen up, Congress: Americans hate the health care ‘reform’

Dear Members of Congress,

Y’all are going home for a couple of weeks. Some of y’all are going to conduct town hall meetings with your constituents, your “bosses,” the folks who decide whether to vote for you — and whose money pays your salary.

I just got word of a new poll. It says that just 17 percent of Americans favor the Republican Senate version of a health care insurance overhaul. That’s about the same level of (non)support that the House of Representatives version got when the GOP caucus decided to send the issue over to the Senate.

At least one of your House colleagues, by the way, is declining to meet face to face with his bosses. That would be Republican Mac Thornberry. He’s my congressman. He decided a while back that he didn’t need to hear from just plain folks. The last so-called “town hall meeting” he had was with local business leaders, tycoons, pillars of the community. He wanted to inform them of his desire to see Congress shed some of the Obama administration’s regulations. I reckon he got a friendly reception.

But back to the point here.

That poll doesn’t bode well for the future of the GOP plan to rewrite the Affordable Care Act — if House members and senators are going to heed its findings. If you truly are going to “represent” your constituents, then you need to rethink your approach. It cannot be a Republican-only effort. There appears to be a need to include Democrats in this process. Hey, I’ve heard some Democrats say in public that they want to work with their Republican “friends.” But the GOP leadership — so far — is having none of it.

The president calls the House health care plan “mean.” He said he could support a plan with “heart.” The Senate version appears to many of us to be as heartless as the House plan. It takes too much money from Medicaid and according to the Congressional Budget Office — I am sure you are now aware — the plan will cost 22 million Americans their health coverage over the next decade.

That’s not a plan with “heart,” you lawmakers.

Enjoy your time away from D.C. Have a good time over the Fourth of July. Celebrate this great nation’s birthday.

While you’re at home, though, listen carefully to what your constituents — your bosses — are telling you. You’ll learn something.