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Dissecting NPR

NPR Fights Back: Survey Shows Most Listeners of NPR Are Conservative

Steve Inskeep, co-host of NPR’s “Morning Edition,” is stepping up to the plate in defending NPR. He writes for the Wall Street Journal on Thursday:

I can point out that the recent tempests over “perceived bias” have nothing to do with what NPR puts on the air. The facts show that NPR attracts a politically diverse audience of 33.7 million weekly listeners to its member stations on-air. In surveys by GfK MRI, most listeners consistently identify themselves as “middle of the road” or “conservative.”

As for James O’Keefe, the activist whose video prank led to NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller losing her job, Inskeep loftily recounts hearing of the story while he was reporting from Egypt. When he had dinner that night with the NPR Cairo bureau, they barely discussed the NPR news back home. Writes Inskeep:

I noticed a contrast between the news that NPR reports from the Arab world and the news NPR has lately made at home. Each news story revealed the values of the people reporting it… I congratulate Mr. O’Keefe for upholding his values: faith in the power of video to mislead.

Zing! NPR could have used some of Inskeep’s backbone when the O’Keefe story broke, before it fell over itself apologizing and getting rid of people. Now this latest defense might just be too late.

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French Spiderman Climbs New York Times Building

NYTClimb_6.5.jpgAlain Robert, who calls himself “Spiderman” and happens to be French, is currently climbing The New York Times building in Midtown Manhattan. We have no idea why.

UPDATE: Hooray, he made it! Now he’s being hauled away in handcuffs! Also, Robert will forever be the answer to the trivia question, “What’s the fastest way to get to the top of The New York Times?” Zing.

Off the Media: Gates v. Garfield v. Blogosphere

“On the Media” co-host Bob Garfield this week asks America’s-richest-man, philanthropist and future thinker Bill Gates what we’ve all wanted to know: What do you think of those Mac ads on TV that make you look really doofy? “But it’s you!” Garfield quips, when Gates refuses to talk about “another company’s” ads. Evidently, not everyone got the point, and Garfield at three in the morning found himself writing a response to a commentary about what a publicity hungry hound he is. That’s almost too meta for us.

Meanwhile, laughter was heard over this script that was cleverly written in the passive voice in which good fun was made of the Administration’s — any administration’s — inability to say “Yep, we did it — sorry,” and instead say that “mistakes were made.” (Though Clinton never did say “Sex was had with that woman” — and Garfield notes that all his examples are from Republicans — we bet a few slippery Democratic examples could have been found.)

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Off The Media: Urinating Editors

Did you think we’d forgotten “On the Media”? Nah, we’ve just been a little distracted.

This week:

  • This joke co-host Brooke Gladstone told didn’t make sense to us until we read it in the transcript:

    A reporter and an editor are going through a desert. They’re really parched. They come upon a pristine pool of water. The reporter jumps right in. The editor, on the other hand, drops his trousers and begins to urinate. And the reporter says, “What are you doing? What are you doing?” And the editor says, “It’s okay, it’s okay. I’m making it better.”

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  • Off the Media: Clever Headlines, Kate Coe and Giuliani

    giuliani_to_run.jpgOK, we may be giving too much significance to just one segment on this week’s On the Media, but since it’s sister-blogger Kate Coe from our own FishbowlLA, we can’t help but crow. OTM’s Bob Garfield interviews Kate about her story for the L.A. Weekly on how little coverage a black-on-white Halloween crime received.

    What also stood out this week was these wince-inducing headlines on the OTM Web site:

    • “Clink Stained Wretch” (on San Francisco reporter Josh Wolf’s imprisonment for refusing to turn over video he took of a demonstration).
    • “A Zion in the Sand” (on whether the pro-Israel lobby is really preventing honest debate on Israel).
    • “Murder Ink” (on LA Times crime reporter Jill Leovy‘s quest to cover the crimes in The Homicide Report).”
    • “Twist of Hate” (for Kate’s story).

    Last week (which we haven’t covered, yet) there was a nice piece reminding us about how disliked Giuliani was before he became “America’s Mayor” on 9/11 (of which The Onion today names him president). A lot us remember when Rudy was not the beloved rock of 9/11, but rather an overly-controlling, press-loathing, distrustful, nightclub hating … Remember? Well, OTM notes that Mr. Presidential Candidate kid-from-Brooklyn might have to face some uncomfortable questions, again.

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    Off the Media: ‘Barely A Buttock Would Leave The Leather’

    This week, we leave you with our favorite quotes from our favorite New York-based meta media NPR radio show:

    Guest co-host Mike Pesca, in reference to the State of the Union address: “It seems to me to be an element of kabuki, or actually it’s a lot like the Roman Catholic mass — a lot of up-down, up-down. I think that if there were no cameras there, you know, barely a buttock would leave the leather.”

    Emily Bazelon of Slate saying why she could go on an AIPAC-funded junket to Israel. Her answer’s logic sure confuses us: “There’s no way that this isn’t a problematic thing to do, which isn’t to say that we shouldn’t have done it. I mean, I don’t regret that I went. But I completely see the argument that it’s troubling and creates these ambiguities and creates questions about our objectivity in covering the region.”

    Off the Media: High Def Porn, Low Def Journalists

    [photo via Flickr]

    On the Media this week acknowledged what the New York Times and Wall Street Journal subsequently got to: Pornography not only exists, but technologically sometimes leads the way. The Times tells us porn actually won’t lead the way in HD because the pictures are just a little too real. While the WSJ talks about porn as key in the standards battle between Blu-ray and HD-DVD. Although OTM’s tech expert interview subject says porn might not play a big role, because they do less and less of their stuff on DVD, and more on cable, satellite, Internet and wireless.

    OTM also this week also lets Dennis Kucinich‘s former media advisor Jeff Cohen tell us that the reason Kucinich isn’t taken as a serious candidate is because of arrogant, holier-than-thou reporters who know what’s best for voters better than voters do.

    We could certainly argue a connection between the story — about mainstream news media’s arrogance and lack of touch with the real public — and another OTM’er this week on how bad a year ’06 was for newspapers, with declining circulation and no 20-somethings reading them. Our argument would also note that the supercilious, self-important nature of so many “journalists” — why the f*ck can’t we say “reporters” anymore? Because it doesn’t sound as “important?” — helps account for the popularity of The Daily Show and Colbert Report, which call out the bombast. Which reminds us:

    Where was Colbert/O’Reilly on OTM?

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    Off the Media: Liberal, Censor-Avoiding Apples

    This week from On the Media we learned that:

  • Co-host Brooke Gladstone is willing to joke about her liberal self. In a story about how conservative bloggers (the “right-o-sphere”) are being skeptical of their skepticism of the mainstream media’s Iraq war coverage:
  • “Some conservative bloggers, mired in the ugly truth about the war in Iraq, are wondering whether they should have spent less time attacking the MSM and more time believing it. We thought we’d get into the argument, so we’ve enlisted prominent conservative blogger Ed Morrissey, AKA Captain Ed (pictured). We’ll take the position of — surprise, surprise — the liberal blogs.”

  • People in countries with less-than-free access to the Internet can get around the censor by getting a favored uncle or cousin or someone in a more free place to install Psiphon on their computer and let them in.
  • Apple’s new cell phone device thingy — there, that puts the iPhone in its place — was the big story of the week. And there weren’t enough skeptical stories. (We agree, but we’ll still gladly do some shameful and self-damaging act to get our hands one.)
  • Off the Media: The Human Interest Slog

    eason_jordan_otm.jpgAhhhh, NOW we know what makes for a good cable news story. It has to be “human interest,” which to On the Media co-host Bob Garfield means “aberrant, ongoing and unresolved.” But when he says a story like the Mt. Hood climber search “affects nobody but the principles,” is he forgetting the taxpayer money spent on the rescue efforts? Besides, we’ve heard news people justify this kind of coverage as cautionary tales. (“Remember, when you’re mountain climbing, not to die a horrible death by getting lost …”) OK, sure, those stories push more “real” news aside. But isn’t that what the news business has been about since before the penny-paper days of the 19th Century?

    Impressively for a holiday week (check out the disharmonious “Fa la la la la” at 52:46 on the podcast), they managed to put a show together with no retreads of previous stuff. Co-host Brooke Gladstone interviews Eason Jordan (pictured) about his new “Iraq Slogger” venture — essentially a newswire devoted solely to Iraq that’s already, after weeks in existence, gotten about 500,000 pageviews and some 100,000 visitors, Jordan tells FishbowlNY. OTM covered half of the new business.

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    Off the Media: Bob and Don

    nation_rumsfeld_editorial.jpg

    On the Media’s Brooke Gladstone once told us we clearly “love” her fellow host, Bob Garfield. Blushing, we admitted a certain admiration for the way he unflinchingly cuts against the “I’m so smart” deep-voiced broadcast grain, calls a spade a spade (or even an ace, when it is) isn’t afraid to laugh uproariously on air, or point out contradictions and stupidity. And thus, we admit what we find most compelling about this week’s show is Bob’s essay on how our former secretary of defense is suddenly lamenting the phrase “war on terror”:

    Asked if there was anything different he’d have done in Iraq, Rumsfeld offered, “I don’t think I would have called it a war on terror.” Oh, really? … Rumsfeld had many opportunities to change the spin, but he clung to “war on terror” like a magic talisman. And no wonder; It was a linguistic trump card, justifying anything the administration did on grounds of national security.

    Really.

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