Wednesday, October 01, 2008

National Public Radio: Its master's voice


NPR's slanted "news" reporting has acquired a new, peculiarly unsettling twist.

Normally, National Public Radio, like all government-supported media (BBC, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, etc.) has a dependable left-wing, pro-Democrat/Labour, pro–racial grievance group bias. So it was startling to listen to "Marketplace" yesterday evening during my commute.

"Marketplace" has been selling the bailout like the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders of Wall Street. Its so-called reporting and interviews have been 100 percent, religiously pro-bailout in the most recent shows I've heard.


It's hard to doubt that pressure has been applied from whatever office in the federal Politburo oversees the disbursement of taxpayer money to NPR. Count it as one more bit of evidence — not particularly significant in itself, but one of many clues — that the government is pushing for this bailout with an obsessiveness the like of which has never been seen within living memory. And that suggests, in turn, that the corporate interests who keep pet Presidents, Congresscritters, and bureaucrats in cages out back by the garage are desperate.

There is no reason why NPR shouldn't give airtime to bailout pushers. What is craven and irresponsible is that this corrupt organization (as usual where its politics are concerned) offers no variety of viewpoints. Listening to "Marketplace," if you knew nothing else about the controversy, you'd imagine that everyone except a few die-hards and cranks was applauding the Banker Welfare Act of 2008 like a football crowd watching the home team score a game-winning touchdown in the last 30 seconds of play.


But it isn't just loons who oppose this slush fund. I give you, for one example, Jeffrey Miron, an economist at Harvard (can't get more respectable than that!):

Talk of Armageddon … is ridiculous scare-mongering. If financial institutions cannot make productive loans, a profit opportunity exists for someone else. This might not happen instantly, but it will happen. Further, the current credit freeze is likely due to Wall Street's hope of a bailout; bankers will not sell their lousy assets for 20 cents on the dollar if the government might pay 30, 50, or 80 cents.

The costs of the bailout, moreover, are almost certainly being understated. The administration's claim is that many mortgage assets are merely illiquid, not truly worthless, implying taxpayers will recoup much of their $700 billion. If these assets are worth something, however, private parties should want to buy them, and they would do so if the owners would accept fair market value. Far more likely is that current owners have brushed under the rug how little their assets are worth.

The bailout has more problems. The final legislation will probably include numerous side conditions and special dealings that reward Washington lobbyists and their clients.

Last night's "Marketplace" featured a discussion about whether Republicans or Democrats deserved more blame for the — wait for it — the "failure" to pass the bailout bill in the House.

Excuse me? NPR's statist credentials are flashing red, if not Red. Servants 'R' Us apparently believes Congress's job is to shut up and obey orders from the Great Leader. Could it be that, for a change, Congress was actually listening to ordinary citizens — not out of respect, of course, but because every man, woman, and child with a seat in the House is faced with the frightening prospect of having to go back to their home district and look their constituents in the eye, owing to a Moment of Truth coming up in early November.


There was a similar rare sighting of political backbone, or healthy fear, last year when Congress did not take the bait of comprehensive immigration "reform" (i.e., amnesty). Then, too, the Liberal Establishment media told us that Washington had "failed" to pass the legislation. Far from a failure, it was one of the rare moments when the system worked. In this grim time, a success is when our government does nothing.



Anonymous said...

The fallacy of this view is:
1. NPR does not receive government money. It comes from local stations who choose some of its programming to air, just as they choose to buy programs from American Public Media and other sources in addition to each station's local program.
2. NPR is a member association governed by a board of directors that are elected by the member stations.
3. One cannot judge the whole complex of national public radio stations - over 800 of them - across the USA, with over 8700 hours of programming each year and predominantly supported with private, local funds from listeners and businesses.
I suggest you do a bit more critical thinking about your reaction, which may well be correct concerning the Marketplace program to which you listened.

Rick Darby said...

1. NPR gets little direct funding from the federal government, but the Corporation for Public Broadcasting does, and the CPB supports member stations that pay NPR programming fees. NPR also gets funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, the National Science Foundation, states, and local governments. All on the taxpayer's dime.

2. So?

3. Yes, businesses, foundations, and listeners contribute to the NPR budget. Listeners who want to send some of their money to a leftist propaganda machine have every right to do so. But businesses either pass the cost of their grants on to their customers or get a tax write-off. Tax-exempt foundations are supposed to steer wide of political advocacy, which is obviously not the case with those that underwrite NPR programming.