NPR: Sorry we implied you were all a bunch of homicidal maniacs
July 11, 2002 7:39 AM   Subscribe

NPR: Sorry we implied you were all a bunch of homicidal maniacs "We have made mistakes at NPR. One mistake was … our report about TVC," said Kevin Klose, president and CEO of the pubic broadcasting radio network, referring to a story that suggested the Traditional Values Coalition was connected to the attempted assassination of two senators.
posted by nobody_knose (22 comments total)
heh, heh, you said "pubic".
posted by ashbury at 7:46 AM on July 11, 2002

Does anybody have a link to the original story? The current story says only that NPR implied that TVC "fit the profile" of groups that might have engaged in sending antrax letters. I'm curious to see the context of the report.

Oh, and "pubic" jokes are always priceless! ;-)
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:50 AM on July 11, 2002

Hmmm...while I hate to give up credit for something that appears tickle the funny bone of a few MeFites, I gotta attribute the 'pubic' reference to the original Fox story - the quote was a straight copy-n-paste.
posted by nobody_knose at 7:58 AM on July 11, 2002

Yup, "pubic" is in the original Fox story. Given the news organization's penchant for frothy-mouthed invective hurled at anything to the left of hard-right, I somehow think that wasn't entirely accidental.
posted by mapalm at 8:04 AM on July 11, 2002

The original story was in the archives, but it's been pulled with a note as to the reason.

Not surprising that they'd remove it, considering they admit that it was a bad piece of reporting.

Fox News has a right to take a stand against "journalism" with a political slant. That's just unacceptable. Fox News will show the way.

We distort, you deride.

At the bottom of the article:
Some lawmakers question whether CPB, chartered in 1969 as an alternative to the three existing networks, is still necessary in the world of broad cable, digital and Internet information systems.
...not that Fox News, Fox News Channel, and have any bias there.
posted by jmcmurry at 8:08 AM on July 11, 2002

Sorry, I forgot to say something about "pubic" to keep the madcap typo fun rolling. I'm like the security guard who takes away the community beachball at a concert.
posted by jmcmurry at 8:10 AM on July 11, 2002

mapalm: I kinda doubt it, but who knows?

In the larger scheme of things, though, pubic sounds pretty benign when compared to homicidal.
posted by nobody_knose at 8:12 AM on July 11, 2002

I wish the government would stop funding such a partisan group. Could you imagine the furor over funding of a conservative radio network?
posted by Oxydude at 8:31 AM on July 11, 2002

I wish the government would stop funding such a partisan group. Could you imagine the furor over funding of a conservative radio network?

I imagine that if Congress did fund a conservative radio network, there would be no furor. They would protect it under the mantle of "freedom of speech" or whatever. Thus revealing the overwhelming bias toward conservative ideas.

Since we can't trust any individual media outlet to report untainted truth because everyone has a bias, people should need and (crossing my fingers) want multiple points of view to sift the "truth" from. The "right" POV is well-protected with cold hard cash. Just look at AM talk radio! Talk about your bias.

So then ironically, the "left" gets funding from the gummint to balance what should be a fair playing field. I am curious what percentages NPR or PBS gets from individual vs. government vs. foundation contributions.

I hope this made some sense. It's still my first cup of coffee.
posted by billder at 9:13 AM on July 11, 2002

Nice straw man you got there, billder.
posted by nobody_knose at 9:29 AM on July 11, 2002

NPR being the radio fortress of the liberal left...*shrug* who knows? I think it is more Academic than straight out frothing-at-the-mouth left [like i am.]

also, i think that a lot of the pet issues of NPR are perceived as being liberal because they are academic, socialist, pro-science, anti-pop culture etc...., which makes a lot of people feel threatened. many NPR and CPB shows are funded by Shell or Dupont--how liberal can they be?

That conservative group probably thinks NOVA is anti-christian spawn of the devil.

ah well. Glad they apologized i guess. I suppose they are right about NOVA anyways.
posted by th3ph17 at 10:29 AM on July 11, 2002

NPR sure has a lot of guests from Heritage and American Enterprise Institute and other right wing "think" tanks for such a "liberally biased" network. I just don't see the bias claims in presenting thorough news that attempts to present all sides, not just the ones Fox and Rush like. And Nina Totenburg, yeah, a real leftist there, huh? Pfffttt....
posted by nofundy at 10:52 AM on July 11, 2002

For comparison: Variety's story. It's not on any of the wires that I can find, though there were stories in the religious press in March when NPR first apologized (and probably when they removed the story). The hearing webcast is available, although a transcript won't be for weeks. The Traditional Values Coalition's press release links to their own transcript. It's not that long, but this is the most relevant section, highlights mine:

REPORTER: To find out what the Unabomber was after, [FBI] investigators pioneered something that is now called victimology. They collected life histories of the victims to see what they had in common.

FBI AGENT: Whether it was their public stature or whether it was a stand they took on some public issue, whether it was something they said that offended someone. One of the things you may want to do--and I'm sure they're doing this--is going back and looking at their correspondence, their so-called fan letters and see if that would suggest anything.

REPORTER: Two of the anthrax letters were sent to Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, both Democrats. One group who had a gripe with Daschle and Leahy is the Traditional Values Coalition, which, before the attacks, had issued a press release criticizing the senators for trying to remove the phrase 'so help me God' from the oath. The Traditional Values Coalition, however, told me the FBI had not contacted them and then issued a press release saying NPR was in the pocket of the Democrats and trying to frame them.

But investigators are thinking along these lines. FBI agents won't discuss the case, but the people they have spoken with will. The FBI, for instance, has met with Planned Parenthood. [Story continues detailing PP as victim of attacks, with comparison of letters sent to them.] The conclusion was that there was no connection.

Later, the story focuses on the FAS bioterror expert Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, and suggests that the FBI is investigating members of the American Society for Microbiology, a professional association.

Frankly, given that there was no evidence, the inclusion of the TVC in the story was unprofessional. It actually seems as if the whole paragraph was included because it jocularly presents the TVC as lobbying by attack news-release, rather than the reporter's feeling that they were part of any plot or real investigation. Certainly amusing in a aren't-those-hicks-cute kind of way to the NPR audience, but irrelevant to the story. The transcript can't convey the tone, though, so I can't be sure that was the intent.
posted by dhartung at 11:24 AM on July 11, 2002

To clarify: the transcript of the hearing won't be available for weeks. The transcript of the original story is what I linked to.
posted by dhartung at 11:28 AM on July 11, 2002

The traditional values coalition complaining about "anti-Christian" bigotry is like the Mafia talking about anti-Italian bigotry. (They do!) If they really want to insist that Christianity comes with a particular set of political beliefs then I guess I'm going to have to be a bigot.
posted by Wood at 11:35 AM on July 11, 2002

Certainly amusing in a aren't-those-hicks-cute kind of way to the NPR audience: Dan Hartung hates NPR.
posted by moz at 11:52 AM on July 11, 2002

“Clearly NPR employees graduated from the school of anti-Christian bigotry where their new math of two-plus-two-equals-four equates to Christian-organization-plus-speak-out-against-senators-equals-murder," Lafferty charged, adding that TVC's lawyers are fighting for a full retraction.
Who talks like this?
posted by cowboy at 12:00 PM on July 11, 2002

2 + 2 = 4
that is new math?

i just--really--don't get what he is trying to say.
posted by th3ph17 at 12:22 PM on July 11, 2002

I think he's trying to say that the new math is

2+2=4 => c.o.p.s.o.a.s. = murder

So, he agrees that 2+2 equals 4, but he's disputing that you can use the fact to prove that they are murderers.
posted by Wood at 12:29 PM on July 11, 2002

moz: Dan Hartung also listens to a hell of a lot of it, which is where he gets the stones to say something like that. They have a certain occasional myopia about these things. It's one of their major failings. In any case, which is more charitable toward NPR: believing that they deliberately implicated an innocent lobbying group with which they have a political beef in attempted murder, or believing that they just couldn't resist taking a swipe when they should have known better and it didn't support the story? Either way, it wasn't a mistake.
posted by dhartung at 8:05 PM on July 11, 2002

My take: NPR goofed bigtime, probably because an editor somewhere was not on the job as he/she should have been. But this goof is not indicative of a wider bias at the network.

Some resources for y'all if you're interested:

Article about the flap from Current, the trade newspaper of the public broadcasting industry. Includes a lengthy quote from NPR's report.

Funding info from the website of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the private nonprofit corporation that receives federal funding and disburses it to public radio and television.
posted by nedlog at 6:58 AM on July 12, 2002

Considering that the right-wing agenda is currently destroying the very framework of our country, I find it hard to get too worked up over what is, essentially, a snide comment. Methinks TVC, a group that really should be chased back under the rock it came from, doth protest too much.

Such groups cling only to their own advantages. If it were about fairness, they would be trying to bring down Fox News, who slander the left with pathetic regularity.
posted by fncll at 6:14 PM on July 12, 2002

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