‘The Pub’ #48: Are public media journalists really all liberals?

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(Photos: Sam Kittner, Peabody Awards via Flickr)

There is a stereotype, perpetuated by people such as myself, that public media journalists are overwhelmingly left-leaning in their personal political beliefs.

I readily admit that there is no data set to prove this, so in this week’s episode of The Pub, I’m asking a self-identified public media lefty and a self-identified public media righty the same question: Are public media people generally liberal, and what — if anything — could or should be done about that?

Nootbar (Photo: 90.5 WESA)

Nootbaar (Photo: 90.5 WESA)

NPR dropped distribution of Lisa Simeone’s show World of Opera in 2011 after she got involved in the Occupy movement. A self-identified liberal (though she quibbles with the label), Simeone says NPR people aren’t the hard lefties people think they are.

“If you think ‘left-leaning’ . . . means that you’re in favor of gay marriage, and you think that pot should be legalized, and you think that transgendered people are cool, then yeah, most people in public radio are liberal,” Simeone told me. “But I mean something very different by it, and in my experience, most people in public radio are not liberal.”

On the other end of the spectrum, WESA Pittsburgh News Director Mark Nootbaar identifies as conservative and thinks the general perception of public media journalists as liberal is accurate.

However, he doesn’t think there’s much to be done about it.

“Deep down inside, we’re artists,” Nootbaar said of journalists. “I think that when you start to talk about those types of people, you just find that they are a little bit more liberal than they are conservative.”

Also on the show:

  • I offer a little quantitative analysis to explain why fans will miss Diane Rehm when she retires next year, comparing her to her midmorning talk competitor, Tom Ashbrook.
  • The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi, in breaking the news of Rehm’s retirement, once again makes substantive changes to an article about public media without acknowledging those changes on the page.
  • A remembrance of veteran radio reporter Max Cacas, who died suddenly Tuesday at 61.

Please subscribe to The Pub in iTunes or your favorite podcast app, and leave us a rating and a comment! That will help boost our search results and allow people to find the show more easily.

We welcome your feedback on the show: You can reach me at adam@current.org or @aragusea on Twitter; my supervising producer at Current, Mike Janssen, is at mike@current.org; and you can contact Current generally at news@current.org or @currentpubmedia on Twitter.

If you’d like to offer a comment to be used in the program, please send on-mic tape (recorded in a studio, with a kit, a smartphone, anything) to adam@current.org either as an attachment or through Google Drive. Please keep it short!

Adam Ragusea hosts Current’s weekly podcast The Pub and is a journalist in residence and visiting assistant professor at Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.

  • Sanpete

    Good work. Though we differ on some points, I greatly appreciate your lonely voice in public radio on the lack of ideological diversity. One thing this episode and your interview with NPR’s Oreskes suggest is that there’s a high level of denial among public radio personnel about the basic facts involved and their significance.

    Her remarks were illuminating in their own ways, but the choice of Simeone was perhaps unfortunate in that respect: she appears unreflective, unable to understand and respect views other than her own, unable to distinguish her opinions from facts, and thus unable to clearly see the issues, at least in this context. In that respect, she is representative of a large part of public radio’s audience, and probably a fair chunk of public radio’s personnel. But it might also be useful to hear from a liberal in public radio more able to see past her ideology.

    Nootbaar, on the other hand, probably couldn’t be in public radio if he didn’t have that quality. An unreflective conservative would be unbearable to most public radio personnel and its audience, I suspect. His observations seemed more informed by understanding of other views.

    The interview didn’t probe just how conservative Nootbaar really is, but it’s certainly not as conservative as Simeone is liberal. I wonder how many socially conservative people work in positions of power in public radio.

    • Jack Stinglash

      Unreflective, you say? One must wonder whether you listened to the podcast at all.

      • Sanpete

        I did, thus my comment on it. I explained what I mean by unreflective, should you wish to explain how I’m wrong.

        • grace

          Appears to me that what you mean by “unreflective” is that Simeone doesn’t agree with your view of the media, whatever that may be. A reflective man or woman examines their views against those of others and decides that he or she needs to change or does not. Simeone’s questioning of NPR’s continued use of the term “enhanced interrogation” instead of “torture” indicates that the only non-reflective entity in this discussion is NPR. And you, of course.

          • Sanpete

            No, I meant what I actually said, that she appears unable to understand and respect views other than her own, unable to distinguish her opinions from facts, and thus unable to clearly see the issues, at least in this context.

            To take your example, a journalist who has advanced far enough to be hosting an NPR news program, as Simeone was at one time, should be able to understand why NPR had a policy against calling waterboarding as carried out by the Bush Administration torture. Whatever her view of the matter (or mine), the matter had important political and legal ramifications but remained controversial and unsettled by any neutral authority, such as a court. It was right for NPR to not take sides on the issue. (Mark Memmott has since become more mealy-mouthed about the policy, as is his tendency.)

            Simeone shows no understanding of the reasons for the policy, and suggests there was no reasonable basis for it, that only her view was reasonable. Not so. There are sound reasons for it that need to be recognized.

          • grace

            I paste below part of the U.N. Treaty on torture that the United States signed with most other nations some time in the 1980″s. Given that the UN has already defined torture and its definition was accepted by the United States, I must assume then that the only authorities you accept as “neutral” are those in the United States. If I were to do a comparison it would be to the judiciary in Germany during the second world war. That is, if the German courts didn’t object to what Hitler’s government was doing, it was okay for its journalist, intellectuals, etc. to accept government policy, No journalist, then or now, worth his or her salt could possibly use the term “enhanced interrogation” without choking on the words. Furthermore, the word “enhance” carries with it a positive connotation, which makes the term even more offensive. I didn’t know of Simeone’s story until I recently came across it in studying the view that the press in the United States leans left, a view that is wrong (no doubt you’ll now call me unreflective). But what particularly rankles, if true, is that NPR after canceling its Opera program, tried to get Simeone’s station to also cancel her contract. If you can say that no neutral authority has identified “water boarding” as torture, then I suggest strongly that you are unreflective yourself and should look into your motives for mislabeling Simeone. I thought she was brilliant and I wish her well.

            Definition of torture[edit]

            Article 1.1 of the Convention defines torture as:

            For the purpose of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions.

            The words “inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions” remain vague and very broad. It is extremely difficult to determine what sanctions are ‘inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions’ in a particular legal system and what are not. The drafters of the Convention neither provided any criteria for making such determination nor did it define the terms. The nature of the findings would so differ from one legal system to another that they would give rise to serious disputes among the Parties to the Convention. It was suggested that the reference to such rules would make the issue more complicated, for it would endow the rules with a semblance of legal binding force. This allows state parties to pass domestic laws that permit acts of torture that they believe are within the lawful sanctions clause. However, the most widely adopted interpretation of the lawful sanctions clause is that it refers to sanctions authorized by international law. Pursuant to this interpretation, only sanctions that are authorized by international law will fall within this exclusion. The interpretation of the lawful sanctions clause leaves no scope of application and is widely debated by authors, historians, and scholars alike.[6]

            Ban on torture[edit]

            Article 2 prohibits torture, and requires parties to take effective measures to prevent it in any territory under their jurisdiction. This prohibition is absolute and non-derogable. “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever”[7] may be invoked to justify torture, including war, threat of war, internal political instability, public emergency, terrorist acts, violent crime, or any form of armed conflict.[5] In other words, torture cannot be justified as a means to protect public safety or prevent emergencies.[7] Subordinates who commits acts of torture cannot abstain themselves from legal responsibility on the grounds that they were just following orders from their superiors.[5]

            The prohibition on torture applies to anywhere under a party’s effective jurisdiction inside or outside of its borders, whether on board its ships or aircraft or in its military occupations, military bases, peacekeeping operations, health care industries, schools, day care centers, detention centers, embassies, or any other of its areas, and protects all people under its effective control, regardless of nationality or how that control is exercised.[5]

            The other articles of part I lay out specific obligations intended to implement this absolute prohibition by preventing, investigating, and punishing acts of torture.[5]

          • Sanpete

            The US law implementing the international torture convention uses a different definition than the one you quote, and that’s the one many in this country believe should be applied. No neutral authority has applied it. It’s not NPR’s place to decide the issue of which standard should apply or whether it does in fact make waterboarding torture, as that involves matters of unresolved opinion, not merely facts.

            I understand that you agree with Simeone’s opinions on this, but that doesn’t make them uncontroversial facts. It’s important for a journalist to be able tell the difference, and it’s important for NPR to stick to facts.

            Your analogy to Germany is a stretch, but it could happen that other things become more important to a news organization than sticking to the facts. I don’t think that has happened in this country. Taking sides on the interrogation methods probably wouldn’t have done anything to change them, but it would have decreased trust in NPR among those who look to it to stick to facts. Not a good trade-off.

          • grace

            If that’s the case then the United States should retract its signature. Did no one read the definition before the treaty was signed, or do we just sign things willy nilly and then go our own way–the latter appears to be the case. How anyone, and I’m referring to you, Sanpete, and your Jesuitical language, can support water boarding by referencing neutral authorities tells me we are very far apart on our views of this issue. I know the definition of torture and no one can ever tell me that water boarding is not torture. Any further discussion of Simone’s comments has no worth other than to waste time on a Sunday afternoon. And I would rather waste my time having a glass of wine and watching a rerun of “Black Books.”

            Perhaps because I lived in various Western European countries for some years as well as in the United States, I have a different and broader definition of the terms “left” and “liberal,” but the media as a whole in the United States is not liberal, unless of course we want to rewrite definitions of that word as we have with the word ‘torture.” Lisa Simeone, if you’re reading any of this, I admire your courage.

          • Sanpete

            Since I’m sure you’re not trying to provide an example of the disrespect I’ve referred to, I’ll take your invocation of Jesuits, one of whom is the current Pope, whom I admire, as a compliment. But you mistake me in supposing I’m supporting waterboarding. An inability to tell the difference between what I’ve said and support for waterboarding is related to the larger inability to distinguish neutral reporting from support for a view, a common problem in evaluating NPR’s neutrality.

            You are illustrating my point about not being able, or willing, to distinguish the boundaries of fact and opinion that apply here.

            As I point out in another comment, the relevant definition of left in connection with how NPR leans relative to taxpayers and targeted audience is left of center in this country. No doubt it’s true that the US is right of center compared to Europe, in most respects.

          • Is that why NPR has never, in its history, used the term “enhanced interrogation” to describe torture by other countries, only that by the U.S.?

          • Sanpete

            I can’t tell what part of what I said “that” refers to. I’m not defending NPR’s use of the term “enhanced interrogation” so much as their refusal to call the methods “torture.” I think NPR should have been more careful to only use the term “enhanced interrogation” with “so-called” or some other qualification, since it too is a controversial term.

            (The reasons the term is only applied in a US context is that no other nation has adopted it, I suppose, and that it was carried out within a program purportedly ensuring it wasn’t torture.)

          • Thank you.

    • InheritTheWindow

      she appears unreflective, unable to understand and respect views other than her own, unable to distinguish her opinions from facts, and thus unable to clearly see the issues, at least in this context. In that respect, she is representative of a large part of public radio’s audience, and probably a fair chunk of public radio’s personnel.

      Quite the smear of Simeone and public radio listeners in general, especially considering that you provide exactly zero support or examples for such a ridiculous claim. There is one exception, when it comes to respecting views other than one’s own: intolerance does not deserve respect.

      • Sanpete

        You’re way behind. Read the other comments first.

        • InheritTheWindow

          So you base that entire charge on her (accurate) statement about NPR’s refusal to call out torture for what it was?

          • Sanpete

            That’s mostly what she talked about, so the clearest example, and I’ve also cited evidence regarding her language.

  • Mark Pugnar

    Excellent show Adam! Keep pushing the truth that public radio (as well as most journalists) lean left. You should remember that there are degrees in the left/right spectrum. Simeone would probably be on the far left end of the spectrum, while Nootbaar seems to be merely right of the center. From where Simeone sits you might be considered right-wing.

    • I agree I’m on the far left end of the spectrum, as that spectrum is conventionally understood, which is what I told Adam when he asked me to describe my political leanings. But as you know, not everything can get into the final edit; some things have to be cut, and I think Adam did a great job of editing our conversation.

      At TSA News, our writers are politically all over the map, from far left to far right. We don’t have a problem working together because we’re all on the same page re civil liberties. I also abhor political correctness and refuse to obey its dictates, a position that would put me, again conventionally speaking, on the right. I also despise the Democratic Party as much as the Republican Party. Yet more examples of the why left/right is increasingly a false dichotomy.

      (And no, I don’t consider Adam Ragusea rightwing.)

      • MarkJeffries

        Let me ask you this, Lisa–do people who work in public radio on the music and arts shows–and their audiences–tend to lean farther politically on either side than the news-talk employees and audience? It seems like the music audience–who felt themselves as the people who built public radio and feel that they have been treated like chattel since David Giovannini’s first studies–tends to be more active politically on either side and less wanting of non-stop news/talk than the news junkies who can’t get enough of Diane Rehm, “Here and Now” and “The World.” As for those employees, they are the ones who have been losing their jobs as one station after another sends the music programming over to HD-2 and off the bird and PRX web site and not live and local. Seems to me that those people would prefer the only strip national programming being the drive time news shows with no features on TV series or indie rock bands, Terry Gross (not interviewing TV stars or franchise movie directors) and “Democracy Now!” replacing an hour of “ME”–and “Marketplace” gone, never to come back. The rest of the time, live and local DJs playing classical/jazz/folk (NO AAA), excepting the symphony concerts and Marian McPartland reruns in the evening (some would argue against Bill McLaughlin as too middlebrow).

        Which leads to a belief that I don’t know if you have, but I would guess the longtime listeners and employees would have, is that public radio should be nothing but highbrow or very-upper-middlebrow in tone, blaming Garrison Kellior, the Magliozzis, Michael Feldman, Peter Sagal, Ira Glass and all those “Snap Judgment” and “Moth” storytellers for turning their temple of culture populist, replacing erudite classical music commentators playing the Symphony of a Thousand during daytime with bubbly Lite FM types playing “The Taco Bell Cannon” once a week, jazz DJs forsaking Ornette Coleman and Anthony Braxton for Michael Buble and organ trios and folk shows with Pete Seeger replaced by AAA shows with Wilco. I don’t necessarily totally agree with them and I perfectly understand why these things happen, but I know where they’re coming from and I don’t blame people for not wanting to buy an HD radio to hear their music (and if they did, find out that their classical companion for decades has been replaced by someone from St. Paul).

        And as for politics, there were rabid rightwingers just as angry (and perhaps more angry, since they believe that NPR is biased) over WBEZ dropping jazz in 2008 and in the WRAS/GPB kerfuffle there were pro-Georgia State U. students complaining about “liberal bias.” In case you’ve forgotten, rock and roll isn’t solely liberal music anymore and hasn’t been for some time now, even in the indie-ish world (surely you remember MTV’s “Alternative Nation” with your host Kennedy, who was proud to be a Republican even then). Which is why I do believe that music fans are more active politically–but don’t want to hear it on the radio that much.

        • I’m sorry, I’m a bit confused by your comment. If you’re asking whether public radio music people lean more left than public radio news people, I’d have to say that I think most of them are registered Democrats and that that affiliation doesn’t mean squat in the grand scheme of things. I think there’s barely a sliver of daylight between Dems and Repubs and on some issues none at all.

          And sorry, I’m about the least hip person you’ll ever meet, so I’m afraid I have no idea who “your host Kennedy” is.

          • MarkJeffries

            I was probably trying to throw too many things in there, but I do think that the music audience leans more to the extremes either way than the news-talk audience and aren’t news junkies, which I think that in a public radio context are closer to the center.

            And Lisa Kennedy Montgomery was an MTV VJ who goes by her middle name and was (and is) outwardly conservative. She now works for Fox Business Network (no big surprise there).

            Perhaps I was leading to this: Is public radio less highbrow than it used to be and is that a byproduct of a move to the right? (Anyone can jump in.)

          • “Less highbrow than it used to be.” Well, that’s an interesting proposition; we could probably talk about it all day. Since more public radio stations used to be classical back in the old days, and since classical music is considered highbrow, I guess you could say that public radio today is less highbrow than it used to be.

            But there are many ways of being “highbrow,” no? This is another of those terms that get defined in different ways depending on who’s doing the defining. I do think that NPR and public radio stations in general are desperately afraid of appearing highbrow — and this has been the case for 30 years; it’s not new.

            I can give you an example of my time at NPR, both when I was hosting WATC and after I had quit but was still freelancing there: racecar driver Dale Earnhardt died, and NPR did four — count ’em, four — different reports on it. We did one on WATC (it must’ve happened on a weekend; I don’t remember exactly), and then the other news shows all did other ones, both standard obits as well as other kinds of reports. The desperation to prove that we were down with the common man was almost palpable (“down” in the slang sense).

            A few years later, American fashion designer Oleg Cassini died. Now, I admit that I’m a huge fashion love, but Oleg Cassini was a big name. Even for people who don’t give a toss about fashion, the fact that he dressed some of the most famous people in the world, including Jackie Kennedy, would’ve been a draw. He even designed clothes for Barbie, for god’s sake — talk about down to earth. But we heard not a peep. I was in the building then, going around asking producers and hosts why we weren’t mentioning it, why we weren’t doing an obit. Nobody was interested.

            Again, I think it was because Oleg Cassini, being a — gasp! — fashion designer, was considered too “highbrow,” unlike Dale Earnhardt. It’s reverse snobbery. It’s similar to the kind of pandering I was talking about in the podcast, though not having to do with politics per se.

          • MarkJeffries

            And I would be in favor of both (and I would’ve thought that you would consider Cassini a capitalist pig, which shows you how wrong I am). I guess I’m probably too much to the right for you, because I find Amy Goodman too pompous and predictable, but I find Fox and most right-wingers racists and despicable misogynists. But I also feel that you and Goodman hate people who served in the military and want some form of Communism in the nationalization of American business when all I want is the return of regulation. Of course, I could be stereotyping and I’ve already seen that that’s wrong.

          • “Hate people who served in the military”?? What?? I’ve never said any such thing.

            And Communism? Really? That didn’t work out so well in the 20th century. I’m in favor of many aspects of socialism — such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Socialism is simply worker ownership of the means of production. That’s it in a nutshell. Doesn’t strike me as so bad.

            I’ve also never said anything about the nationalization of American business, though I do believe that corporations exert too much control over our economy. It’s been called “corporate rule,” and that about sums it up. No big scary socialists crashed the economy in 2008. Gamblers — er, I mean bankers — did. And we bailed them out. Privatize the profit, socialize the losses — funny how that bit of socialism doesn’t seem objectionable to those in power.

  • Aaron Read

    “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

    • Sanpete

      Hah, liberals have a well-known bias about what’s reality.

      • InheritTheWindow

        Remind us which party denies climate change and evolution?

        • Sanpete

          Which group is more likely to reject the conclusions of science about GMO foods, or to believe that September 11th may have been an inside job or allowed to happen on purpose?

          • InheritTheWindow

            You are comparing one party’s platform with the views of the fringe of the other party.

          • Sanpete

            No, not the fringe. It’s shocking how many liberals have these views, among others out of harmony with facts. Humans naturally incline to believe what suits them, regardless of ideology.

          • InheritTheWindow

            Your appeal to false equivalence is as familiar as it is inappropriate.

            It’s certainly the case that too many liberals subscribe to vaccination hysteria, but a: many conservatives do as well (remember Michele Bachman?) and b: a much smaller percentage of liberals hold these anti-science views of vaccination and 9/11 than conservatives do for climate change.

            Furthermore, there is no denying that climate science denial is significantly more mainstream with conservatives. I mean, did any Senate Democrats hold hearings about the dangers of vaccination where they brought in three scientists to testify about how they might cause autism, along with a talk-radio pundit to offer supplementary testimony, and only begrudgingly accept a Republican witness to advance the scientific consensus view? Because that’s exactly what Ted Cruz did with a hearing on climate science.

          • Sanpete

            The September 11th conspiracy beliefs are held more by those who self-identify as liberals. I suspect the anti-GMO beliefs are too. Conservatives are more inclined to reject some facts, while liberals are more inclined to reject others.

          • Aaron Read

            97% of all self-reported statistics are only half-true.

  • kevinzeese

    The problem is with the label liberal as most people who are corporate Democrats would be considered liberals. In reality, most in the media are centrists with a pro-corporate economic perspective. They can differ on social issues but on economic issues, there is minimal difference. You never hear reporters who question capitalism, US militarism or imperialism or corporate control of the two major parties; you certainly have almost no reporting about the Greens or other progressive parties. The definition of liberal and conservative in the US is so narrow that they are more similar than different especially when put in the context of a broader political analysis. In a broader political analysis you can see how centrist the media reporting is. And, there is no question that reporting on NPR is very pro-military, pro-corporate, favors fracking and other extreme energy extraction and the views of the Democrats and Republicans. This is not surprising since their funding comes from big business and government — that is who they represent.

    • grace

      I agree about the lack of reporting on progressives in general and this year on Bernie Sanders in particular. The NYT, supposedly the great liberal bastion of the press, rarely comments on Bernie’s campaign but has articles on Hiliary’s almost daily. The Liberal Press indeed!

    • Aaron Read

      No question? I work for an NPR member station, albeit just as the engineer. But my desk is in the same bullpen as our reporters. I would question your assertions quite strongly, sir.

      Especially since your core point…funding…is demonstrably untrue. The bulk of NPR’s funding comes from us, the member stations. Something we seem to have to continually remind them as they pursue strategies detrimental to member stations’ interests…but I digress.

    • Sanpete

      You’re in much the same place Simeone is. What liberal means in this context is left of center, in the US. To those far on the left everything to right of them naturally looks right-leaning, but that’s not the relevant standard.

      You claim there’s no question that reporting on NPR is very pro-military, pro-corporate, favors fracking and other extreme energy extraction and the views of the Democrats and Republicans. That’s wrong on its face, of course, in that it’s a controversial point about which there is obviously substantial question. It’s also wrong in that reporting facts and views that may support those things doesn’t imply support for them, especially since contrary views are also given.

  • grace

    I tuned into this broadcast as my interests are centered on the media. The view that most journalists are liberals, or left-wing, is one with which I have great disagreement. I won’t repeat what kevinzeese writes in the comment section since he’s says it so well. But after listening to Simeone and then reading Sanpete’s comment I’m very confused and wonder if he is commenting on a different broadcast as nothing he says with respect to Simeone has any relevance to what she said here. She was asked about her experience at NPR and she talked about that experience, her experience, not Sanpete’s. What views did she not respect? Indeed, she made the decision not to call out names and was very tempered in her remarks about NPR, which from what I understand from her statements and the interviewer’s concurrence had attempted to get her actual employer (not NPR) to drop her opera broadcasts because she had Joined the Occupy movement. How opera relates to the Occupy movement is beyond me and I was happy to learn that she’s still doing her opera show. I would be foaming at the mouth if NPR had done the same to me.

    But back to Sanpete. He mentions Simeone’s ideology but there was no discussion of her ideology beyond a few quick words, so what is he referring to and whose opinions did she not respect? I suspect there’s something motivating Sanpete’s comments that is not apparent to the rest of us. Perhaps he could enlightened us.

    • Jack Stinglash

      I, too, found his remarks curious to say the least. He hasn’t been forthcoming so far, but perhaps he will in future. I responded to him directly.

    • Sanpete

      You ask what views Simeone disrespects, and wonder how I connect that with the interview. Listen to her language about NPR. She describes it and its policies as kowtowing, sucking up, debased, laughable, etc. Those aren’t terms of respect. She implies most in public radio aren’t really in favor of social justice, that they prefer to toe the company line in their work. That abject failure to actually see what public radio journalists do–which is very much intended to promote social justice–let alone respect it, is what I refer to.

      She rejects NPR’s policies without showing any understanding of the reasons actually given for them, substituting a common ideologically driven, and derogatory, narrative instead, but you didn’t ask about that. It goes hand in hand with lack of respect.

    • InheritTheWindow

      Sanpete is a notorious frequenter of the NPR comment boards. He claims to lean left but will engage practically anybody in a tiresome discussion of how he can see their bias so much better than they can. He repeatedly asks for evidence if you make a claim while never providing any of his own, and if you point out an illogical statement of his, he will claim that he did not say it or that you interpreted it incorrectly (because of, you know, your own bias that he understands so well).

      • grace

        I didn’t know about the NPR boards as I never listen to radio, which includes NPR. But the rest of what you write is obvious from Sanpete’s replies to me. His very last statement (to me) that he is not an apologist for NPR but rather defends what is right and critiques what is wrong is a demonstration of someone who believes they have been shown the light while the rest of us dwell in darkness. As you seem to be suggesting, getting into discussions with him (or her) is not productive.

        Off the subject, somewhat. I am not in any way affiliated with the British program “Black Books” but if you want to experience illogic in its highest (and hilarious) form, catch it on Netflix.

        • Sanpete

          Amazing. How does my defending the views I think correct differ from your doing so?

          • grace

            They don’t, but you are the one who initiated the attack on Ms. Simeone, which is especially egregious as she was the party involved so would know far more than you about what happened, unless of course you are working for NPR! I rather suspect that is the case.

          • Sanpete

            What? First, Simeone was the first to attack anyone, and I’ve pointed out to you the disrespectful terms she did it in. Shall I await your criticism of her on that account? Second, why would it matter who attacked first?

            And no, I don’t work for NPR, nor would that matter to anything I’ve said.

          • grace

            As Barnie Frank once responded to one of his hecklers, “What planet to you come from?” Simeone attacked no one, including NPR. She was asked specifically about her experience at NPR (and I suspect that this is the reason she was chosen to represent the left view) and she answered clearly, with examples, and was quite tempered in her statements, considering that NPR didn’t stop with its own dismissal of her but worked to get her dismissed from her local station. You were not asked by anyone to say anything; instead you chose to smear her, and taint her professional reputation, and for no reason. So go back to your planet as I have no intention of responding to you again. Seriously!

          • Sanpete

            Indeed we are on different planets. I gave you specific examples of Simeone’s attacks on NPR and public radio personnel, in response to your first post. I see it right below this box as I type. You made no response, so maybe you missed that post, but the attacks themselves were there in the interview for you to hear. You’ve seen (and heard) only what suits you, again illustrating my larger point.

        • InheritTheWindow

          Thanks! Always looking for cool new stuff to check out on Netflix.

      • Sanpete

        Bitter nonsense, and particularly ironic in light of your post about smears.

        • InheritTheWindow

          I’d write a comprehensive retort, but I’ve written and read several replies to and from you today so I’m exhausted.

  • Aaron Read

    While this was published back in 2011, I was only recently made aware of it and it still seems quite relevant today. Of course, Jay Rosen is good like that…in no small part because he’s unafraid to take really heavy criticism and respond to it in a thoughtful manner.

    http://pressthink.org/2011/08/why-political-coverage-is-broken/

  • grace

    My last! If NPR had any respect for language and, indeed, for true neutrality, it would not use euphemisms in its broadcasts. I do hope that we can at least agree that the term “enhanced interrogation” is a euphemism for torture, otherwise why not just say what is under discussion: “water boarding” and describe to the uninitiated exactly what that entails. I must point out how captured you are by the powers that be when you speak of “taxpayers” and “targeted audiences” in discussing moral issues. Simeone has it dead right when she speaks of Orwellian language. No matter the targeted audience, facts are facts. Whether Francis or any other Jesuit uses Jesutical language, the term has a clear definition: “dissembling or equivocating, in the manner associated with Jesuits.” You equivocate!

    • Sanpete

      The reason for the Bush Administration’s use of the term “enhanced interrogation” was that they rejected the idea it was torture, of course. NPR was under no obligation to stick to that term. “Harsh interrogation” and “waterboarding” were also used, and they were explained in detail.

      I made no reference to taxpayers or targeted audience in regard to moral issues, only in regard to the meaning of the term left (or liberal) in the context at hand.

      • grace

        But what we’ve been discussing is a moral issue so I took the liberty to apply “taxpayers” and “targeted audiences” to the whole rather than the part. My apology if I got carried away in the moment.

        I won’t abuse the English language, the words and definitions that are common to all English speakers by using them in ways defined by George Bush and his tribe to excuse immoral behavior. Words that carry moral weight are well defined in the Oxford English Dictionary and I won’t permit our government or anyone else to redefine them into oblivion. “Anyone else” applies to NPR. I will disrespectfully ask: are you an apologist for NPR?

        • Sanpete

          You’re passing over the reasons given and just reasserting your position, which rather fits what I’ve been talking about from the start. It isn’t NPR’s place to reflect your personal views, however strongly you feel them.

          Yes, words carry moral weight, and that’s one reason NPR shouldn’t use them to reflect controversial moral views that aren’t settled matters of fact. Again, whether waterboarding as carried out by the Bush Administration was torture is an important moral, political and legal question that hasn’t been settled by a neutral authority. If it were merely a linguistic issue, dictionary definitions would be among the preferred authorities, but it isn’t.

          I’m an apologist for what I believe is right, and a critic of what I believe is wrong. Both apply in my comments about NPR.