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Simon Willard
03-09-2011, 11:34 AM
Should Congress defund NPR?
Would NPR be better off without government contributions?
Is NPR out-of-sync with middle America?

[added]

Was the Schiller guy set up?
Do O'Keefe's tricks promote transparency, or are they reprehensible?
Did Mr Schiller behave inappropriately in the restaurant?
Should CEO Vivian Schiller have been pushed out?

[added more]

Was the use of a fictitious Muslim organization done to stoke the resentment of the xenophobic right?

AemJeff
03-09-2011, 11:44 AM
Should Congress defund NPR?
Would NPR be better off without government contributions?
Is NPR out-of-sync with middle America?

Is James O'Keefe inordinately able to create frothing controversy where nothing exists?

bjkeefe
03-09-2011, 11:55 AM
Should Congress defund NPR?
Would NPR be better off without government contributions?
Is NPR out-of-sync with middle America?

I would say yes to the first two, although I am sympathetic to arguments I've heard that some remote locations depend on public radio more than anyone who lives in a city or suburb one might expect.

In an ideal world, I would be all for a healthy government support for public radio. As we do not live in such a world, I have come to think that the small amount of money NPR gets from the federal government (which even some rightbloggers will admit (e.g. (http://rightwingnews.com/2010/10/npr-funding/))) is not worth the amount of noise it lets the usual suspects make.

The upside, also in the idealistic thinking department, is that not taking any money from the government means less worry that punches are being pulled during coverage of the government. I started getting awfully dubious about the way things were framed from time to time during the first years of the Bush Administration. (Of course, one next has to wonder in this light how critically NPR covers anything of potential discomfort to, say, Archer Daniels Midland.)

I do not think NPR is out of sync with middle America. Not by any means. I think they do more audience outreach than most, if not all, other news and information services.

I will grant that their news coverage is usually more sophisticated and in-depth than what one gets on teevee news programs, but that's a good thing, and it's hardly beyond the realm of grasping for anyone of at least middling intelligence.

To the extent that the occasional magazine-style program, playing in the off-peak hours, may be slightly more high-brow or esoteric than other media consumed by the average or median American, so what? That's a good thing. We could all stand to have our brains stretched every now and again.

stephanie
03-09-2011, 01:02 PM
Is James O'Keefe inordinately able to create frothing controversy where nothing exists?

Heh. That's about what this subject is worth.

Simon Willard
03-09-2011, 01:06 PM
In an ideal world, I would be all for a healthy government support for public radio. As we do not live in such a world, I have come to think that the small amount of money NPR gets from the federal government (which even some rightbloggers will admit (e.g. (http://rightwingnews.com/2010/10/npr-funding/))) is not worth the amount of noise it lets the usual suspects make.

The upside, also in the idealistic thinking department, is that not taking any money from the government means less worry that punches are being pulled during coverage of the government. I started getting awfully dubious about the way things were framed from time to time during the first years of the Bush Administration. (Of course, one next has to wonder in this light how critically NPR covers anything of potential discomfort to, say, Archer Daniels Midland.)

I don't really have an axe to grind here (at least that's what I tell myself), but I think the issue is both complex and interesting. I listen to NPR daily and greatly appreciate the news service. I have always perceived a liberal slant, not in terms of altering the facts, but in terms of story selection -- in other words, what's considered newsworthy. But that's OK, every news outlet does it's own kind of filtering, and I take that into account. I have no desire for my local NPR station to disappear.

It's my impression that most people think NPR gets more government funding than it really does. If you restrict your analysis to simple math, it seems obvious that NPR will do fine without the 10% government contribution. But there's more to it than that. Most people overestimate the government involvement, bamboozled by the word "public", and underestimate the extent to which NPR is controlled like a private corporation. (In fact, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is explicitly a private corporation). These organizations, I think, exploit the word "public" to generate a warm, fuzzy and fictitious aura of "official" status in the minds of many. And this works to NPR's advantage. In reality, the only thing "public" about NPR is the 10% government contribution to its finances, and its appeal for charitable contributions from listeners.

If Congress cuts it loose, and NPR takes even more advertising revenue, it will need to find other ways to nourish this aura that it is, in some sense, acting in the public interest. It's not clear how that will turn out.

Simon Willard
03-09-2011, 01:10 PM
I will grant that their news coverage is usually more sophisticated and in-depth than what one gets on teevee news programs, but that's a good thing, and it's hardly beyond the realm of grasping for anyone of at least middling intelligence.

To the extent that the occasional magazine-style program, playing in the off-peak hours, may be slightly more high-brow or esoteric than other media consumed by the average or median American, so what? That's a good thing. We could all stand to have our brains stretched every now and again.


I agree with these two points.

bjkeefe
03-09-2011, 01:35 PM
I don't really have an axe to grind here (at least that's what I tell myself), but I think the issue is both complex and interesting. I listen to NPR daily and greatly appreciate the news service. I have always perceived a liberal slant, not in terms of altering the facts, but in terms of story selection -- in other words, what's considered newsworthy. But that's OK, every news outlet does it's own kind of filtering, and I take that into account. I have no desire for my local NPR station to disappear.

Eh, I don't know. "Liberal" compared to what? Fox News?

Bear in mind that many actual liberals believe NPR stands for Nice Polite Republicans. Or, as Ken Layne puts it (http://wonkette.com/440168/tea-party-racists-will-all-start-listening-to-npr-now) in a post written in response to the news (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41986715/ns/politics-more_politics/) that "NPR's CEO and president, Vivian Schiller, has been forced to resign:"

And this has been another chapter of American Liberals. Whether it’s Barack Obama or the head of NPR, an American Liberal can always be counted on to immediately freak out when somebody says something undeniably true that also sounds vaguely liberal. And then, the American Liberal can go back to the real priority, which is fellating corporate sponsors and hiring enough conservatives to provide the required 60%-right/40%-moderate “balance” and encouraging sound Democrat principles such as extending the Bush tax cuts and continuing endless failed wars against Muslims everywhere because that’s Good For America.

I think there is a tendency on the part of many non-liberals to remember vividly the occasions where they hear some item that could be called "liberal" in its perspective, and to magnify the frequency of these. I think this is probably aggravated by the sad fact that there are very few other stations that will dare present anything of this nature, lest the RWNM release its howler monkeys.

It's my impression that most people think NPR gets more government funding than it really does.

Probably true. Most things wingnuts freak out over tend to share this characteristic. See also NEA, Planned Parenthood, earmarks, foreign aid.

[...] Most people overestimate the government involvement, bamboozled by the word "public", ... [...] In reality, the only thing "public" about NPR is the 10% government contribution to its finances, and its appeal for charitable contributions from listeners.

I don't know how much more public something could be, particularly if one believes, as I do, that our government is supposed to be of the people, by the people, and for the people.

If Congress cuts it loose, and NPR takes even more advertising revenue, it will need to find other ways to nourish this aura that it is, in some sense, acting in the public interest. It's not clear how that will turn out.

I don't understand why it's hard to think that having a source of high quality news, information, and entertainment is in the public interest. I'd encourage you to try to set aside all of the venom the wingnuts have injected into the discourse, and possibly your mind, about how horrible NPR is, and reconsider.

AemJeff
03-09-2011, 01:39 PM
I don't really have an axe to grind here (at least that's what I tell myself), but I think the issue is both complex and interesting. I listen to NPR daily and greatly appreciate the news service. I have always perceived a liberal slant, not in terms of altering the facts, but in terms of story selection -- in other words, what's considered newsworthy. But that's OK, every news outlet does it's own kind of filtering, and I take that into account. I have no desire for my local NPR station to disappear.

It's my impression that most people think NPR gets more government funding than it really does. If you restrict your analysis to simple math, it seems obvious that NPR will do fine without the 10% government contribution. But there's more to it than that. Most people overestimate the government involvement, bamboozled by the word "public", and underestimate the extent to which NPR is controlled like a private corporation. (In fact, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is explicitly a private corporation). These organizations, I think, exploit the word "public" to generate a warm, fuzzy and fictitious aura of "official" status in the minds of many. And this works to NPR's advantage. In reality, the only thing "public" about NPR is the 10% government contribution to its finances, and its appeal for charitable contributions from listeners.

If Congress cuts it loose, and NPR takes even more advertising revenue, it will need to find other ways to nourish this aura that it is, in some sense, acting in the public interest. It's not clear how that will turn out.

If Congress cuts NPR loose, what I understand is that a lot of individual stations would become casualties.

bjkeefe
03-09-2011, 02:08 PM
Is James O'Keefe inordinately able to create frothing controversy where nothing exists?

Evidently! So far, NPR's CEO has been forced to resign (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41986715/ns/politics-more_politics/) (via (http://wonkette.com/440168/tea-party-racists-will-all-start-listening-to-npr-now)), and Ken Schiller has apparently been asked to fall on his sword by the Aspen Institute (http://wonkette.com/440186/aspen-institute-informs-wonkette-that-ron-schiller-cant-work-there-either).

A brief moment of venturing an opinion in what was believed to be a private conversation, one which was basically true if a bit too sweeping, and two heads have already rolled!

No wonder we're all terrified of the liberal media!

Simon Willard
03-09-2011, 02:14 PM
I don't know how much more public something could be, particularly if one believes, as I do, that our government is supposed to be of the people, by the people, and for the people.

No, no. NPR is not of the people or by the people. I'm saying NPR is not an operation of government, nor is it controlled in any way by elected representatives. Now, you might argue convincingly that such a thing is impossible in today's political climate, and I would probably agree with you.

My point is that there is some confusion in the public mind about this, and that confusion is a big asset to NPR. I believe that is the fundamental reason why NPR desires its government contribution. I don't really think it's about the money per se, and I think their calculation contradicts your assertion that the money is a drag on the organization.


I don't understand why it's hard to think that having a source of high quality news, information, and entertainment is in the public interest. I'd encourage you to try to set aside all of the venom the wingnuts have injected into the discourse, and possibly your mind, about how horrible NPR is, and reconsider.

I agree with this completely. I don't think NPR is horrible. I was trying to make a more subtle point than the usual whining about who's left and who's right.

Simon Willard
03-09-2011, 02:36 PM
There's no question the Schiller guy was set-up by O'Keefe. Anyone can be made to look like a fool with hidden cameras and microphones. I mean, Schiller may have been voicing his opinions, but he was also clearly trying to suck up to people he thought were potential donors.

It's interesting to wonder if this portends the end of private conversations.

bjkeefe
03-09-2011, 02:44 PM
No, no. NPR is not of the people or by the people.

You're twisting my words. Shame on you.

I said the government was of the people, etc. This was in response to your claim that the P in NPR is a sham. I maintain that an outfit which gets a lot of money from individual listeners donations, plus some money from the government, is quite fairly called public. And that's not even to mention their "mission, vision, and goals (http://www.npr.org/about/aboutnpr/mission.html)."

My point is that there is some confusion in the public mind about this, and that confusion is a big asset to NPR.

I'm sorry. I don't buy it. I'd say you're arguing against a straw man, but it seems too crazy a conspiracy theory to deserve dignifying it with that label.

I believe that is the fundamental reason why NPR desires its government contribution. I don't really think it's about the money per se, ...

I have no idea how to respond to such lunacy or why I'd even want to try. Sorry.

Simon Willard
03-09-2011, 03:24 PM
You're twisting my words. Shame on you.
I said the government was of the people, etc.

Sorry, I misunderstood you to be referring to NPR. I couldn't figure out why you would be giving me the 5th grade lecture on the Gettysburg address.

This was in response to your claim that the P in NPR is a sham. I maintain that an outfit which gets a lot of money from individual listeners donations, plus some money from the government, is quite fairly called public. And that's not even to mention their "mission, vision, and goals (http://www.npr.org/about/aboutnpr/mission.html)."

Anyone can write a lovely mission statement. My question to you is, if the federal funding goes away, is the "public" still an accurate description? If Fux News elicited contributions, would they be public too?

JonIrenicus
03-09-2011, 03:31 PM
Evidently! So far, NPR's CEO has been forced to resign (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41986715/ns/politics-more_politics/) (via (http://wonkette.com/440168/tea-party-racists-will-all-start-listening-to-npr-now)), and Ken Schiller has apparently been asked to fall on his sword by the Aspen Institute (http://wonkette.com/440186/aspen-institute-informs-wonkette-that-ron-schiller-cant-work-there-either).

A brief moment of venturing an opinion in what was believed to be a private conversation, one which was basically true if a bit too sweeping, and two heads have already rolled!

No wonder we're all terrified of the liberal media!



I do think Okeefe is an obnoxious figure with his gotcha video traps. Who doesn't have harsh beliefs about certain groups? The only difference is degree. Plus his entire shtick seems to tear down the separation of public and private expressions.

The solution to this is to steel the sensibility of the population to peoples private opinions and make them less discharge worthy... probably not going to happen.

chiwhisoxx
03-09-2011, 03:37 PM
I don't really care one way or another if NPR is defunded. I think people are exaggerating how big of a deal it is that we fund NPR, given that we don't give it all that much money. On the other hand, I think people are exaggerating how valuable NPR is itself. I think there's a lot of value in high brow commentary, but if there's a market demand for that (which I think there is), then the vacuum will presumably be filled to some extent if NPR goes away. It might not be in the same format, as radio isn't really an industry with a bright future, but it should pop up somewhere.

bjkeefe
03-09-2011, 06:18 PM
Sorry, I misunderstood you to be referring to NPR.

No prob.

I couldn't figure out why you would be giving me the 5th grade lecture on the Gettysburg address.

Seemed as though you needed reminding.

Anyone can write a lovely mission statement.

So no matter what I say or they say, you've got your beliefs and you're sticking to them, evidence or none.

My question to you is, if the federal funding goes away, is the "public" still an accurate description?

Sure, why not? They have a non-profit, listener- and donor-supported model. They also make a strong effort, in between the national organization and the thousands of individual member stations, to seek out and air the voices of the people. And they are doing a better job than any other broadcast outfit to inform the public in an intelligent and even-handed manner.

If Fux News elicited contributions, would they be public too?

If pigs had wings ... what now?

Also, the word you want is solicited. (cf. (http://www.google.com/search?q=define%3A&q=elicit), cf. (http://www.google.com/search?q=define%3A+solicit))

bjkeefe
03-09-2011, 06:24 PM
I do think Okeefe is an obnoxious figure with his gotcha video traps. Who doesn't have harsh beliefs about certain groups? The only difference is degree. Plus his entire shtick seems to tear down the separation of public and private expressions.

That's not his entire shtick. Another big part of it is his eagerness to misrepresent and mislead in service of his wingnut agenda.

The solution to this is to steel the sensibility of the population to peoples private opinions and make them less discharge worthy... probably not going to happen.

It's going to take some time, but I think it will happen. To some degree, it already is. Consider, for example, the change in attitude the populace has shown towards youthful drug use among presidential candidates.

bjkeefe
03-09-2011, 06:30 PM
Should Congress defund NPR?
Would NPR be better off without government contributions?
Is NPR out-of-sync with middle America?

[added]

Was the Schiller guy set up?
Do O'Keefe's tricks promote transparency, or are they reprehensible?
Did Mr Schiller behave inappropriately in the restaurant?
Should CEO Vivian Schiller have been pushed out?

[added more]

Was the use of a fictitious Muslim organization done to stoke the resentment of the xenophobic right?

First three already addressed (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=200373#post200373).

"Set up" seems to be a reasonable term.

O'Keefe's tricks probably don't do much of anything to promote transparency. They probably just make people more nervous about being secretly recorded. I think it's not so much that secret recordings in and of themselves are "reprehensible" as the way he goes about getting them and worse, how he edits them. (Can't say for sure about this latest one, but the chopped-up ACORN tapes were a disgrace.) [Added: Via Pareene (http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/03/09/npr_schiller_williams/index.html), a report that the latest tape appears to have been heavily edited (http://www.businessinsider.com/npr-james-okeefe-vide-tea-party-racist-2011-3), as well.]

Can't see why Vivan Schiller should have been pushed out, no.

Re the Muslin thing: obvs. Although I'd say "fears" would be more accurate than "resentment." I'd add that it's straight out of the Glenn Beck/Pam Geller playbook -- imply all Muslins are terrorists, bent on conquering the United States, and further the hysteria by "connecting the dots" between these imaginary hordes and any person or organization that can be called "liberal."

bjkeefe
03-09-2011, 08:07 PM
Eh, I don't know. "Liberal" compared to what? Fox News?

Bear in mind that many actual liberals believe NPR stands for Nice Polite Republicans. Or, as Ken Layne puts it (http://wonkette.com/440168/tea-party-racists-will-all-start-listening-to-npr-now) in a post written in response to the news (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41986715/ns/politics-more_politics/) that "NPR's CEO and president, Vivian Schiller, has been forced to resign:"

And this has been another chapter of American Liberals. Whether it’s Barack Obama or the head of NPR, an American Liberal can always be counted on to immediately freak out when somebody says something undeniably true that also sounds vaguely liberal. And then, the American Liberal can go back to the real priority, which is fellating corporate sponsors and hiring enough conservatives to provide the required 60%-right/40%-moderate “balance” and encouraging sound Democrat principles such as extending the Bush tax cuts and continuing endless failed wars against Muslims everywhere because that’s Good For America.

And here (via (http://twitter.com/allisonkilkenny/status/45601445030002689)) is another example (http://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/03/09/totebaggers-to-the-barricades/) to illustrate.

And here is another (http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/NPR_may_or_may_not_need_tax_dollars_but_it_needs_t o_man_up.html), which starts with a tweet (http://twitter.com/Will_Bunch/status/45648452385898496):

Will_Bunch A pep talk for NPR to "man up" in the face of RW attacks -- we won't defend you unless you defend yourself http://bit.ly/hDdjSX

Simon Willard
03-09-2011, 08:28 PM
Also, the word you want is solicited. (cf. (http://www.google.com/search?q=define%3A&q=elicit), cf. (http://www.google.com/search?q=define%3A+solicit))

Right. My bad.

badhatharry
03-09-2011, 10:51 PM
Should Congress defund NPR? yes

Would NPR be better off without government contributions? maybe, maybe not

Is NPR out-of-sync with middle America? if they get defunded they'll get an accurate read of their audience.

Was the Schiller guy set up? obviously

Do O'Keefe's tricks promote transparency, or are they reprehensible? it depends on whether you like Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow

Did Mr Schiller behave inappropriately in the restaurant? he was being honest, but really unwise. Is that inappropriate?

Should CEO Vivian Schiller have been pushed out? Don't know.

Was the use of a fictitious Muslim organization done to stoke the resentment of the xenophobic right? I think the resentment of the xenophobic right has reached its apex and can rise no more.

badhatharry
03-09-2011, 10:57 PM
I don't really care one way or another if NPR is defunded. I think people are exaggerating how big of a deal it is that we fund NPR, given that we don't give it all that much money. On the other hand, I think people are exaggerating how valuable NPR is itself. I think there's a lot of value in high brow commentary, but if there's a market demand for that (which I think there is), then the vacuum will presumably be filled to some extent if NPR goes away. It might not be in the same format, as radio isn't really an industry with a bright future, but it should pop up somewhere.

They won't neccessarily go away if they are defunded. They have lots of advertisers (ooops contributers) and then there is the Sesame Street franchise.

Sorry, but I don't think a company who pays their top executives in the $600,000 range should be publicly funded.

bjkeefe
03-09-2011, 11:32 PM
They won't neccessarily go away if they are defunded. They have lots of advertisers (ooops contributers) and then there is the Sesame Street franchise.

Who knew that Sesame Street was an NPR production? Thank goodness we have Ms. My Opinion Is Just As Good As Your Data around to inform us of these little-known facts.

Sorry, but I don't think a company who pays their top executives in the $600,000 range should be publicly funded.

But she does think you should stop being so mean to those poor Koch brothers.

Simon Willard
03-09-2011, 11:47 PM
Sorry, but I don't think a company who pays their top executives in the $600,000 range should be publicly funded.

They do have a surprising number of employees earning more than $200,000. See IRS Form 990 (http://www.npr.org/about/aboutnpr/statements/fy2009/NPR%20INC_FY09(TY08)_990_PUBLIC%20DISCLOSURE%20COP Y.pdf)

bjkeefe
03-10-2011, 01:03 AM
They do have a surprising number of employees earning more than $200,000. See IRS Form 990 (http://www.npr.org/about/aboutnpr/statements/fy2009/NPR%20INC_FY09(TY08)_990_PUBLIC%20DISCLOSURE%20COP Y.pdf)

I'm amazed that you and badhat suddenly think these are such huge salaries. Where were your voices when it was time to let the Bush tax cuts on the rich expire?

bjkeefe
03-10-2011, 05:03 AM
And here (via (http://twitter.com/allisonkilkenny/status/45601445030002689)) is another example (http://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/03/09/totebaggers-to-the-barricades/) to illustrate.

And here is another (http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/NPR_may_or_may_not_need_tax_dollars_but_it_needs_t o_man_up.html), ...

PZ's take (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/npr_can_go_die_in_a_fire.php): "NPR can go die in a fire."

AemJeff
03-10-2011, 10:39 AM
PZ's take (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/npr_can_go_die_in_a_fire.php): "NPR can go die in a fire."

This gets added to the lexicon immediately:
...Breitbartian vermin...

stephanie
03-10-2011, 12:38 PM
Do O'Keefe's tricks promote transparency, or are they reprehensible? it depends on whether you like Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow

Pop postmodernism. Allan Bloom would be so sad.