Saturday, October 30, 2010

NPR and the Liberal Subculture that Worships It

Juan Williams’s recent firing from NPR has occasioned yet another in the perennial series of arguments about the public radio network and whether it should or should not continue to be government funded. The debate so far, it must be admitted, has not been an edifying one, consisting mostly of the regurgitation of clichés.

At The Daily Beast, itself a formidable organ of the liberal establishment, Peter Beinart provided an excellent example of this, writing that “NPR is elitist, and it’s a good thing too” before trotting out almost every cliché NPR’s defenders have ever employed in defense of the network. “The people who run the station,” he writes, “believe that Americans should know more about what is happening in China and less about what is happening to Britney Spears, which in today’s media makes them downright subversive.” As proof of this, Beinart claims that “NPR now has 17 foreign bureaus compared to four for CBS,” and “NPR devotes 21 percent of its airtime to international news compared to 1 percent for commercial talk radio.”Needless to say, these are not particularly helpful arguments. One is little more than openly acknowledged snobbery, and the other appears to make the bizarre claim that more coverage by definition equals better coverage, as if a patient were more likely to survive surgery with ten doctors in the operating room instead of one. Given the ready availability online of translated foreign media, moreover, one wonders why those interested would require their news filtered through an American radio network in the first place.

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