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Standing Up for the Truth

Somebody called me a Nazi this week. And they questioned my journalistic integrity. Not just me, actually. Everyone I work with too. This goes way beyond issues that first arose weeks ago when the organization I work for made certain mistakes for which they have taken full responsibility. We are human.

Fox News President, Roger Ailes, later apologized for his “Nazi” references to NPR…to a Jewish organization. He did not apologize to me or any of my colleagues. In his letter of apology, he added that what he really meant to say was that we were “nasty, inflexible bigots.” And he has accused us of being leftists. Leftist Nazi’s, as if such a thing were even idealogically possible.

A momentary dose of truth, if I might. Chicago Sun-Times film critic, Roger Ebert, says it better than I think I ever could. I would respectfully ask you give his article a glance.

Here’s what reality looks like to some. At least those who actually listen to what, in my humble opinion, may be the last, great news organization in the world:

Everywhere I go, as much as I can, I listen to National Public Radio. It’s an oasis of clear-headed intelligence. Carefully, patiently, it presents programming designed to make me feel just a little better equipped to reenter the world of uproar.

And there’s this:

I’ve mentioned before that I cannot get into a taxi in Chicago where NPR is not either playing, or pre-tuned when the radio is turned on. The driver is invariably African or South Asian. I ask, “You like NPR?” I have been told, “I hear more about the rest of the world.” I’ve also been told, “I hear more about America.” More than once I’ve been told, “I want to learn.”

And this:

NPR surely is the voice of America — the voice I hope the world is listening to via the internet. It is the voice of our better nature. We are not all snarling dogs of Left and Right, feasting on shreds torn from the Body Politic. Some of us (maybe most of us, when the mood is right) are kind, curious, sane. We are interested in other peoples, other lifestyles, other choices. We do not demand that the media tell us over and over again the things we already believe. We are open to new ideas.

There’s an honest debate to be had about whether public radio should continue to receive taxpayer dollars. It will come to the fore early next year in the Congress of the United States. Since there are hundreds of communities around the country who would have no local radio at all were it not for NPR member-stations, I personally, don’t think it’s such a great idea to cut off public funding. I mean, really, if for nothing else, who else on the radio is going to activate the Emergency Broadcast System the next time swarms of tornadoes sweep across the heartland?

But that debate aside…what is not honest, is for people who never listen to us- to question our journalistic ethics and integrity. I have not spent 35 years of my life as a journalist at places like CBS and CNN and ABC, to end up at a place that doesn’t work 24 hours a day to bring all sides of a story, over the air, on the radio and into your ears.

It’s what I do. It’s what we do- here at NPR.

Trust me, one way or the other, we will survive.

  1. Jim Howard
    November 19, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    First, NPR should rise above even commenting on Roger Ailes. He’s just trying to bait a reaction to keep the BS argument alive. Now, as to the matter of public support for public broadcasters. Here’s an easy fix. Rather than allowing all the commercial broadcasters to make billions off of a public asset – the Broadcast Spectrum with nothing returned to the public. Let the commercial guys pay for their use of the public asset they now enjoy for free and use that income to support public broadcasting in the US. This is a win, win, win situaiton. First, the public stops being fleeced by the commercial guys, public broadcasting continues to provide excellent journalism and tax dollars once used to support public broadcasters can be shifted to other needs. I’m guessing the public-minded crowd at Faux News will choke on that idea. I can’t wait to hear the logic behind their objections. Maybe we could even make an argument for charging foreign owned media more for use of a US public asset – what say you Rupert? Sort of like out of state tuition.

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