I have been asking myself what has happened to journalism in this country for a few years now. I heard two stories on NPR recently where they spent less than 5 seconds on the fact that the Planned Parenthood videos are less than honest and really didn’t address the origin and veracity of the videos. I was and am still so incensed I felt like writing an email to NPR (see said email to NPR at bottom.)
Matt Taibbi’s tweeted something that was very on point today. Glenn Greenwald first tweeted this:
On the ludicrous conceit of “objective, opinion-free journalism
with a link to an article. Someone named The Meteor Guy tweeted back to him and another person:
@ggreenwald @JulianPhilosphy keep separate the facts from the opinions is one of the basic rule of journalism.
And then Matt Taibbi responded:
That couldn’t be more incorrect. Which facts you choose to present IS an opinion.
I think it comes down to them, NPR and the rest of the media, being terrified of the “liberal bias” label. Their fear makes them leave out key facts in almost every single controversial story. And as such are, inadvertently I think, presenting an opinion. An opinion that will affect national opinion, which will in turn affect support for Planned Parenthood. The end result is that they are carrying water for the conservative agenda. Inadvertent or not, it’s just flat out wrong and it’s piss poor journalism. I for one am sick of it.
Sent 8/6/2015 via Contact Us form at NPR.org
Yesterday morning I listened to an NPR report on the latest sting video of Planned Parenthood. The reporter (sorry don’t remember her name) spent less than 5 seconds on its questionable nature. She characterized it, downplayed it, so that it came off as “excuse making” by Planned Parenthood. For example, she said something like ‘Planned Parenthood as part of their defense pointed to statements that had been edited out of the video’. That is VASTLY different from the truth. The guy making the video had an agenda and he significantly altered the video in order to make it look as if Planned Parenthood was guilty of committing a crime. That needed to be said but it simply wasn’t. In the real world that’s called framing. Instead the story came across as one of the “poor optics” for Planned Parenthood. This is the exact same thing that happened to Acorn and they are now defunct.
In addition other reports and opinions expressed on NPR’s other shows has been about the optics as well. I don’t want to hear about optics in the news. I want to hear as many facts as you can put into the time slot. NPR used to be the one news source I could go to to get some semblance of reality and avoid the horse race reporting and biased news presented by the rest of the media. But over the last year that has been disappearing. Sadly it seems NPR has bowed to political pressure not to appear as “liberally biased”. NPR is over correcting and it means you are leaving out facts that are vital to understanding a story and presenting it fairly. If the reality has a liberal bias, report it and let the chips fall where they may. And vice versa, if the reality has a conservative bias, then report it and don’t worry about the shrilling of the right or the left.
That does not mean, however, that I only want a centrist view. A variety of opinion is desperately needed and is lacking on all the political shows that I have listened to to include Diane Rehm’s and This Week in Politics. “This Week in Politics” is supposed to present two opposing sides to the political debate. Instead you have E.J. Dionne for the left. He’s more of a Democratic Party supporter….which does not necessarily make him a liberal. He, more often than not, presents mild and ineffectual retorts (if given the time) to snide, condescending rhetoric from David Brooks. David Brooks is a conservative masking himself as a centrist and he does not represent the conservative base in America. Even these two gentlemen, supposedly from opposing sides, took the centrist view on the Planned Parenthood story and the conversation hinged on the bad optics. It shouldn’t be about bad optics and by making it so you feed into those bad optics and as a result carry water for a political agenda. This has been happening with increasing frequency over the last few years.
And finally, while I can see plenty of facts online in NPR articles about the veracity of the videos and how government money to Planned Parenthood is really spent and how they provide crucial healthcare to millions of women, I have yet to hear that on any of the radio shows, which is where most people are exposed to NPR. Like most people, I listen on my way to/from work. Since the radio is how most of your listeners will hear the news, the articles online are of little use in affecting the current national conversation. And make no mistake about it, you are affecting national opinion. If that opinion turns against Planned Parenthood and they lose funding, tens of thousands of women will suffer.
I’m sad to report that NPR has now become the best of the bad and that decline will ensure that I do not rely on NPR for news or anything else in the future.