Times have been tough for NPR in the last six months. Just last week, NPR CEO Vivian Schiller spoke at the National Press Club in Washington. Among other things, she discussed the firing of NPR Senior Correspondent Juan Williams in October. By the end of the week, Schiller herself was out of a job, after a video caught her chief fundraiser making disparaging remarks about Tea Party activists and Jews.
In her speech at the National Press Club, Schiller made sure to emphasize that NPR maintains its commitment to diversity. She meant, of course, racial diversity.
Even casual observers know that the network’s devotion to this cause appears to apply only to the staff’s skin pigmentation not to their political orientation. Something that strikes me as more than passing strange for an organization that inherently deals with politics.
But it’s not just me saying that NPR lacks political diversity—it’s now coming from NPR itself! And this time it wasn’t the result of a sting video, either. The admission came on NPR’s air this past Sunday.
Just look at this the exchange last Sunday between Bob Garfield, host of the NPR show “On the Media,” and Ira Glass, host of “This American Life.” Mr. Glass had challenged Mr. Garfield to conduct an internal audit of liberal bias at NPR and report on it in a week. Mr. Glass added he was sure none would be found (that makes two of us, but I digress). Then the conversation turned to what metrics would be used. Could the absence of conservatives at NPR be a metric?
Bob Garfield: … you and I both know that if you were to somehow poll the political orientation of everybody in the NPR news organization and at all of the member stations, you would find an overwhelmingly progressive, liberal crowd, not uniformly, but overwhelmingly.
Ira Glass: Journalism, in general, reporters tend to be Democrats and tend to be more liberal than the public as a whole, sure. But that doesn't change what is going out over the air. And I feel like, well, let's measure the product.
Sorry, Ira, but you’re wrong. It does change what’s going out over the air. You stuff a newsroom with a bunch of progressives and nary a conservative and you will definitely get a product that at least tilts left. Liberals will not understand, they just won’t “get” at a gut level, what offends conservatives, not just in news selection and reporting but even in cultural programming.
That is why NPR constantly offends conservatives, which is why they don’t want their tax dollars going to it. Anyone at NPR who can’t understand this may not be as intellectual he or she thinks (unless one uses Bertrand Russell’s definition of an intellectual as “a person who pretends to have more intellect than he has”) they are.
And, no, I don’t have to wait a week to prove this point. The examples are seemingly endless.
Monday, on “All Things Considered,” NPR aired a paean to ’60s radical musician Barbara Dane, whom it called “a versatile voice with a political purpose.” The spot included such hagiographic lines as: “Dane has remained a symbol of resistance, someone who isn't afraid to break the rules.”
Barbara may not be afraid, but she certainly did support a regime that terrorizes its own people—Fidel Castro’s in Cuba.
Dane started traveling there when Fidel’s and Che’s firing squads were working overtime. NPR’s “versatile voice” was unstinting in her embrace of the even the most indecent of Castro’s terrorizing techniques.
Let me give you an inside view. I was a child in Cuba then, and the slogan I found most terrifying was “to the paredon,” which I heard communists cry on the airwaves or the street I lived on. Paredon, you see, is Spanish for the walls used by firing squads.
And just what name do you think Dane gave to her product line? Well, Paredon records.
You don’t have to be a Cuban-American to have this sensitivity. Other conservatives have also pointed out today the inappropriateness of the piece on Dane.
Now I ask you, really, NPR? I, and others, found the piece offensive, and typical. Why should conservatives’ taxes pay for this?
Mike Gonzalez, Vice President of Communications for The Heritage Foundation, is a widely experienced international correspondent, commentator and editor. He spent 15 years reporting from Europe and Asia before leaving journalism to join the administration of George W. Bush, where he helped explain financial and foreign policy.
As a boy of 12, Gonzalez left his native Cuba with his mother and sister, fleeing the Castro dictatorship. After two years in Madrid, Spain, the family settled in Queens, New York, in 1974.