On Natl Public Radio 4/26/03,
I hear these stories:
1. Kids at Gitmo: all about juvenile offenders at Guantanamo, Little League age but major league killers some of them, per Gen. Myers, joint chiefs chairman. "Human rights groups" wonder about it, NPR comes calling, addressing their concerns, quoting on-site military man seeking to show kids are treated better than adult prisoners about their having been forced to serve Taliban. They get the guy to contradict Myers. High-fives all around at the studio.
2. Iraqis vs. American so-called liberators: Interview with one Anthony (?) Beaver, Brit military historian, on how WW2 liberated French resisted American occupiers, feeling humiliated by their earlier capitulation to Germans. (I heard Anthony, but maybe it was Paul, who's with Jane's Weekly. No Anthony Beaver military historian anywhere. Hmmm. Disadvantage of radio there.) Reporting here was rather good, made sense, especially in re the French experience. You don't always hurt the one you love, per the torch song, but you do sometimes resent being helped.
3. Hopi woman GI dies in combat, 1st Native Amer female soldier to die: Report from reservation of Lakota mourning ceremony etc. Interesting.
4. (later in morning) Interview with author of new novel Da Vinci Code: Art history to the forefront. Author is guy who gets all crinkly-voiced in delight at the good reception his book has got. Cultivated-voice interviewer, direct from your nearby Eastern liberal arts campus. Somewhat distant, very WASPy, with irony lurking behind every syllable -- and nothing is said too quickly or cleverly: This is a carefully measured step they tread on NPR!
Enough reporting-cum-commentary, how about some straight commentary? NPR's concerns are liberal. Reporting may be fine and upstanding, touching all bases, etc., but what it cares about is liberal. Above we find (1) human rights groups concerns about Gitmo detainees, (2) how we're doing as liberators (borderline liberal here), (3) native American issue, rarely not of interest, and (4) art films. All is discussed with that mildly amused, slightly bemused light, light touch. And no music! the lady of our house notes. You know it's NPR if there's no musical lead-in to the next item.
These are not specious concerns, and they are shared by many, including me. But conservative issues, like dumbing down of public schools, taxation that inhibits growth, crime control, and the loss of personal freedom in a welfare state -- these do not get covered. Compare National Review with Nation: the difference is less treatment than subjects considered worth treating. (4/26/03)