March 13, 2011

An Ex-Listener's Open Letter to NPR

Dear NPR:

From what your board member, Sue Schardt (here), and your recently thrown-under-the-bus Senior Vice President for Development Ron Schiller (here), and your journalists (here), and even your ombudsman in 2003 (here) have had to say and have implied, Iím pretty much the listener--Ēpredominantly white, liberal, highly educated, eliteĒ--that youíve ďunwittingly cultivatedĒ over the years. It would be all too easy to suggest that youíve ďwitlessly cultivatedĒ that audience, but Iím all about the new civility,Ē particularly as itís being practiced by your ďcore audienceĒ in Wisconsin.

Iím a teacher of English, a few credits short of a masterís degree (Iíll get around to it someday--when I have time), lauded by my state as an accomplished teacher of the humanities. Iím a classically trained singer who regularly performs with a well known symphony orchestra, a composer and arranger and a playwright. Unfortunately, I have several disfiguring marks: Iím a conservative who feels that anyone who even thinks they are ďeliteĒ is taking them self much, much too seriously. I own guns, not nearly as many as a great many folks I know, but more than enough to horrify you, and Iím a certified firearms instructor and life member of the NRA. I donít hate anyone, and oh yes, I believe in God, though I wonít throw that in your face.

I have, over the years, like the tides, waxed and waned in my listening to your programming. The pattern is predictable: I listen until my liberal bias limit is exceeded and then I cut you off. In recent years, the cut off side of the scale has become much heaver than the listening side and has been reached more and more rapidly. To be absolutely fair, I know youíre not biased 100% of the time, but when you are, itís always to the left, never to the right. If you really are fair and balanced, wouldnít you, at least occasionally, be biased to the right? Just asking.

I know that your CEO Vivian Schiller (remember her? You threw her under the bus just the other day too) vigorously denied any liberal bias at NPR at the National Press Club just the day before that scamp James OíKeefeís newest undercover video revealed Mr. Schiller representing NPRís heart and soul in all itís cruel, condescending, crude, anti-semitic and hateful ďeliteĒ glory. We, as the Queen of England might say, were not amused. By the way, the exquisite timing involved is an example of what we in English call ďcosmic irony.Ē Thatís the sort of thing that tends to make non-elite types like me think that when you profess to abhor liberal bias that you might be, well, lying.

Oh, but what about Fox News you ask? When you--and the rest of the media--are so overwhelmingly progressive, a network like Fox which is not blatantly hostile to conservatives and their views will appear, by comparison, to be right wing. Thatís not an argument in your favor, but another indicator of your bias.

I know that you donít sit down in editorial meetings every morning and plot how best to denigrate all those who havenít reached your lofty pinnacle of eliteness. It just isnít necessary when everyone in the room thinks alike. But I also know that in your board meetings and editorial meetings, and in your hearts, you look down on people like me, on half--even more--of the American public. You know youíre better than me, smarter, more humane, more caring. I know this because Iíve actually listened to your programming over the years. I know because Juan Williams (remember him? You threw him under the bus not long ago) tells us that Mr. Schillerís thoughts and words are routinely expressed in your meetings and conversations. And I know through common sense. Who would say such things if they did not live and work in an insular world where such beliefs were not only ubiquitous, but expected and accepted?

ďOh yeah?Ē You demand. ďWhereís your proof? Give me just one example.Ē In fact, Vivian Schiller bragged about demanding just that, claiming that no one could respond.

You lost me in October of 2003. Remember that? Iím referring to the Terry Gross interview of Bill OíReilly. Surely you remember that interview, the interview that was so egregiously biased, so unprofessional that your ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin (link in the first paragraph) had to side with OíReilly? By the way, I suspect that most Americans reading Dvorkinís response would find it chock-full of progressive snark. Do you? Iím no sycophant of OíReilly--I rarely watch his program--but that was my turning point.

Again, to be fair, youíve sometimes produced worthy, unbiased programs, but because your bias is so encompassing, Iíve never donated a penny to you. And now, because your daily operating bias has been laid bare for all to see in a way that cannot be ignored, youíre on the verge of losing your taxpayer subsidy. Yet even your mea-culpas drip with bias; you just canít help yourself. Ms. Schardtís musings read like a ďhow could we be any more magnificent?Ē love letter to yourselves, and the NPR journalistís letter (link in the first paragraph), while distancing them from Ron Schiller, shows no recognition of your pervasive institutional bias: ď We are determined to continue bringing you the daily journalism that youíve come to expect and rely upon: fair, fact-based, in-depth reporting from at home and around the world.Ē Hmm. Not so much. By the way, how many conservatives work for you? Can they admit it?

The world of broadcasting has fundamentally, irrevocably changed, and youíre still asking ďwhatís the matter with Kansas?Ē The kind of reporting and analysis that once stood apart from the rest of the legacy media is now common on the Internet. Virtually everything you do can be had elsewhere and without the smug, ďeliteĒ condescension, progressive bias, and disdain toward hundreds of millions of Americans, Americans you regularly beg for money. If I didnít know so well who you are and what you believe, individually and corporately, Iíd probably listen from time to time and occasionally, donate. But that would be my choice; my tax dollars arenít. You don't deserve them and we can't afford them.

For that day when the taxpayer no longer finances your cruelty and smug, self-imagined superiority over all of us who live in fly-over country, I have a bit of free advice: Donít continue to emulate Newsweek. They proudly announced that they were becoming more than a mere news source; they were to be a journal of elite, liberal opinion. That elite liberal opinion, you may recall, turned out to be worth precisely one dollar--for the entire enterprise.

But Iím willing to give you the benefit of the doubt one last time. Iíll give you one more shot. But first, Iíd better let you know just who youíre trying to serve and what they believe. Iíll speak for myself, but I suspect many will share my sentiments. Consider them a sort of top ten guide to the mysterious denizens of fly-over country.

(1) I do honor and serve God, because I recognize that there is One greater than me, greater than all of us. And no, I donít mean Barack Obama (patron saint of the teleprompter), or Nancy Pelosi (patron saint of ridiculously lengthy and utterly incomprehensible legislation we have to pass to understand whatís in it) or Harry Reid (patron saint of cowboy poetry).

(2) I like guns. Theyíre fun, useful, develop responsibility, and the ability to concentrate. Thomas Jefferson also believed that--look it up. Above all, I appreciate them because I donít expect anyone, or the government, to care for me or those I love. I believe in individual responsibility, and firearm ownership is only a small part of the expression of that belief.

(3) I have no hatred for those who arenít like me. When I see Maria and Alejandro entering my classroom, I donít see Hispanics, Latinos or members of a favored victim group, I see Maria and Alejandro, and I love them because theyíre great kids, theyíre my students and Iím their teacher. Tommy, on the other hand, is a bit of a wiener.

(4) I donít care much for those who think themselves superior. As Iíve aged, Iíve learned how very much I donít know, and Iíve also learned that there is always someone smarter, faster, stronger, better in every way, especially in fly-over country. In the real world, the practical world of daily accomplishment, ďelitesĒ arenít worth a bucket of warm spit--just like the vice-presidency.

(5) I judge people on their abilities and the content of their character.

(6) I believe that no law should be passed to ďmake a statement.Ē I believe that the law should be enforced fairly and uniformly, and if itís bad law, it should be repealed or changed.

(7) I believe in the Constitution--all of it. I believe that even though it was written hundreds of years ago, that I can understand its plain words and their plain meaning, be I ever so handicapped by my non-elite status.

(8) I believe in democracy and understand that when Iím in the minority, fleeing the state to bring democracy to a halt, trashing the state house, making death threats against my opponents and their families, and congratulating myself for protecting the very democracy I despise makes me look like a liar, thug and Marxist. When I behave so badly, I expect others to wonder if I was raised by wolves.

(9) I believe that Socialism and Communism are brutal, cruel and evil and absolutely incompatible with democracy and liberty. Tens of thousands of Americans have given their last, full measure of devotion to defeat these barbaric philosophies, and untold millions of others around the globe have been slaughtered in their name. I will, if necessary, give my last, full measure of devotion to put them, once and for all, on the ash heap of history.

(10) Three times in my life, I have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution and to oppose all enemies, foreign and domestic (yes, Iím a veteran too). I know who all the enemies of America are and I will name them and fight them.

So. With any luck, youíll soon be cut off from the great taxpayer borrowed money pipeline and left adrift in the free market. Youíll stay afloat or sink on the strength of your product, a product youíll have to drastically alter to appeal to those you have, for so many years, egregiously insulted. Iíll still listen to Car Talk because there may be found good humor, wit and no bias. And Iíll probably drop by from time to time to see if youíve changed--at all. As a beginning, you might start every editorial meeting from now on by intoning, over and over, ďthereís nothing the matter with Kansas, but weíre a different story.Ē Good luck.

A Former Listener

Posted by MikeM at March 13, 2011 09:46 PM

I used to be an avid listener but as time went by I changed my listening habits. Now I rarely listen at all. All things considered, I would rather have silence than the Leftist talking points of the day.

Posted by: NevadaSteve at March 14, 2011 02:34 PM

That moment came for me in 2005, shortly after I had returned from the Trangle of Death, when they claimed that there were no Terrorists in Iraq.

Then the next segment was about Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Posted by: brando at March 14, 2011 04:43 PM

Even Click-and-Clack the NPR "car-guys" were always so drippingly and consistently leftwing populist-progressive, like a VWS's blown oil-seal the smarmy evidence was everywhere, it made me wonder if they could adjust a brake shoe star-wheel - or only loosen it. Ever the leftward/leftard turn.

Posted by: DirtCrashr at March 14, 2011 11:07 PM

In all modes of life you need intelligence, as in watching the other side. So I don't have any problem listening to NPR, because I know there will be this swarminess to some of their reports, but I do sometimes get answers to that oft asked question ... What we're they thinking ?
The answer usually has something to do with being blinded by their own prejudices, or just plain stupidity.
Frankly, I find NPR's program to be far superior to the Sunday morning public service programming that covers the downtrodden, but seems to be unable to stop themselves from remembering that all poor people aren't Black. NPR knows that some Hispanics are poor too.

Posted by: Neo at March 15, 2011 08:01 PM