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Commentary :: Alternative Media : Democracy : Kansas City : Media
How does NPR do investigative journalism of voter fraud in Ohio? Current rating: 0
07 Apr 2005
Support news and public affairs on KKFI!
Call in a pledge during the Heartland Labor Forum Thursday at 6pm, or anytime.
Tune in to 90.1 FM KKFI Kansas City Community Radio
Support news and public affairs on KKFI!
Call in a pledge during the Heartland Labor Forum Thursday at 6pm, or anytime.
tune in to 90.1 FM KKFI Community Radio


How does NPR do investigative journalism of voter fraud in Ohio?
It calls England and asks a British talking head with a conservative British economic journal.

At this writing, KKFI and KCUR are both in the middle of their on-air pledge drives. While I am very partial to KKFI, I am all in favor of, for those who can afford it, contributing to both stations. KCUR still does some great stuff, and I enjoy listening. During the previous pledge drive, there was even a KKFI voice pitching on KCUR, and a KCUR voice pitching on KKFI. But in this time of rampant corporate media consolidation, right-wing radio and with so much of the media serving as a propaganda ministry for the Bush administration, how should one show support and to whom?

KCUR is a National Public Radio affiliate, and NPR, due to, among other things, Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding and a couple of major bazillion dollars from the widow of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, has considerable resources available to help it commit journalism somewhat in line with the founders' vision of a free press… when it chooses to. And sometimes it chooses to. If memory serves, the big dog of NPR was on KCUR's Up To Date with Steve Kraske recently, talking about how the Kroc bucks had helped NPR devote resources to an in depth bit or work on how foreign detainees had been seriously abused by immigration authorities with dogs and clubs and whatnot. They had even gone overseas to interview some of these victims where they had been deported, and then corroborated their complaints with medical records they dug up back here in the Yew Ess of Ay. This really was some good stuff. But with more administration and congressional pressure from the right, and with correspondents like Cokie Roberts et al basking in their stature and enjoying their access to the powerful, how often does NPR do good stuff like that?

Take, for example, the 2004 election results. Did NPR commit any good journalism there?

On an NPR Talk of the Nation segment heard on KCUR last December 30th, host Neil Conan looked back at the news stories of 2004. For several days he had asked listeners to email the show about what stores they would like to have discussed and re-examined. Here is part of what I heard on that show.
*******************************************************************
Host Neil Conan: Joining us now to look back at some of the major news stories of 2004 is John Mickelthwaite, U.S. editor for The Economist, co-author of "The Right Nation - Conservative Power in America", he joins us by phone from Shropshire in England, and it's nice to have you back on Talk of the Nation John.

John Mickelthwaite: Well thank you very much for having me.

Neil Conan: We've asked our listeners the last couple of days to send in emails on the stories they want to see followed up of the past year and I have to say to you the largest number of emails we've gotten is about what people say is uh irregularities in the vote in Ohio, a recount is going on, what's happening with that John?

John Mickelthwaite: Well, the latest figures show, the latest recounts, the only official recount, shows that Bush has um, Bush's vote was degraded by 300 votes. But he's still got a lead of about 118,000. And I know there are various kind of court cases pending about different bits, but my general impression is that there is a degree of exaggeration about this, you can read very, very long stories and discover at the end they're arguing about 35 votes in some fairly obscure county in Ohio. By most normal measures Bush, rightly or wrongly, won Ohio quite, quite straightforwardly. So I don't think that really you're going to get the same degree of after-effect about Ohio as you did about Florida, but there's always a chance that it'll, it'll kind of live on in the mythology.

Neil: And of course we want to hear from all of you listeners, 800-989-8255….
*******************************************************************
And they're off to other topics having dismissed concerns about the late presidential election as exaggeration and (possibly), mythology.

"By most normal measures Bush, rightly or wrongly, won Ohio quite, quite straightforwardly."

Whud the heck does that mean????

Yes, this was a talk show, but all the election news I heard on NPR was similarly dismissive of serious irregularities in voting Ohio and elsewhere. Stories were either ignored, or given some scant attention but dismissed as not significant to the big picture.

If the story is in Ohio, shouldn't there be some investigation in Ohio rather than hot air blown in from England?

You heard a little more and a little better on this subject on KKFI. On KKFI you can hear Democracy NOW! daily and if you doubt that they covered election issues a little bit better, go to www.democracynow.org and browse the archives. I think you also got more meaningful coverage of these issues from our local band of volunteers as well. How much did you hear from NPR, KCUR, local TV and radio, or from anybody about electronic voting and electronic vote-counting and the real concerns about possible fraud and abuse by these systems? On the Heartland Labor Forum you heard the head of the Johnson County Election Commission touting her Diebold voting machines, and then on the same show heard Thom Hartmann once again explain why we should be concerned about them. On Your Morning Buzz and on Red Wheelbarrow on KKFI you heard reports about election concerns. Where was the rest of the media who had resources to cover these stories and chose not to? Bill Moyers has spoken and written at length about how our very democracy is under real threat due to national media that have failed us. Which of the media are part of the problem, and which are trying to be part of the solution?

Among other local shows on KCUR, I often enjoy listening to Steve Kraske. He does some great stuff. But I was profoundly disappointed with a recent show he did on blogs.
Here's how he introduced the show:

"First bloggers exposed a flawed story by Dan Rather who later announced he's stepping down as a CBS news anchor. Last week, Eason Jordan, CNN's chief news executive announced that he was resigning after a remark he made about the U.S. military taking aim at journalists."

One of the guests said: "… the Dan Rather affair and some other things were examples of bloggers and others basically saying 'we're not going to just take for granted what you say, we're going to do a little checking ourselves, and we're going to hold you to account', you being the media, 'to account if you get it wrong or if we think you're being biased or whatever.' So the watchdog function is the most visible." He goes on to talk about bloggers doing what "could only be called journalism."

Well, I'm for watch dogging the media, but what was truly disappointing on this show was how Kraske and guests, apparently like the prominent bloggers, were pretty selective about their watch dogging. Like most of the major coverage of the Rather affair, the discussion was completely centered on the apparent sloppiness of CBS in verifying a document, with very little about what seemed to me like the real issue, i.e., was the main story about Bush's dereliction of duty in the National Guard true or not? Are these people journalists, or are they trying to be agents of Bush administration spin meisters, playing down a problem story by blowing up another into distraction?

Perhaps more trouble was the discussion on the departure of Eason Jordan from CNN. Again, as in most of the major media, all the discussion centered on what seems to me a relatively unimportant issue to the exclusion of an extremely important one. All the discussion was about whether or not Jordan had actually accused the military of targeting journalists in Iraq. How about some journalistic curiosity about how journalists came to be killed by U.S. military? On Democracy NOW! on KKFI you heard about how Spanish journalists en masse put down their cameras and recorders and literally turned their backs on the government to express their feelings about one of their number being killed in Iraq under troubling circumstances. On Democracy NOW! on KKFI you heard an interview with the U.S. soldier who was in the tank that shot at the Palestine hotel. On Democracy NOW! on KKFI you heard eyewitnesses dispute the official U.S. version. On Democracy NOW! on KKFI you heard other conflicting stories about journalist casualties.

On NPR and the corporate media you heard talking heads wonder aloud about what exactly a network executive said.

I'm not here to slam KCUR. I enjoy much of what they do. If you enjoy KCUR and want to support them, by all means do so. But think about supporting KKFI too, and think about telling both what you like and what you don't like. If you are troubled by what strikes me as a rightward and corporate shift by NPR, give them a note about that along with your check. If you appreciate the news and public affairs like Democracy NOW!, Heartland Labor Forum, Radio Nation, 6BC, Urban Affairs, Every Woman and other shows you hear on KKFI, let that be known along with your financial support. If you want even more news and public affairs along with the great music on KKFI, ask for it and support it. Call KKFI and make a pledge, or do it online at www.kkfi.org.
***************
http://www.thenation.com/docprint.mhtml?i=20050307&s;=scahill
Shooting the Messenger

by JEREMY SCAHILL

[from the March 7, 2005 issue]

One of the most powerful executives in the cable news business, CNN's Eason Jordan, was brought down after he spoke out of school during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in January. In a rare moment of candor, Jordan reportedly said that the US military had targeted a dozen journalists who had been killed in Iraq. The comments quickly ignited a firestorm on the Internet, fueled by right-wing bloggers, that led to Jordan's recanting, apologizing and ultimately resigning after twenty-three years at the network, "in an effort to prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished by the controversy."

But the real controversy here should not be over Jordan's comments. The controversy ought to be over the unconscionable silence in the United States about the military's repeated killing of journalists in Iraq.






http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/international/AP-Iraq-Italy-Hostage.html?
Troops in Shooting Were for Negroponte

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ANGBUFFET Re: letter you wrote to KKFI boardANGBUFFET Re: letter you wrote to KKFI board
Published: March 10, 2005

Filed at 6:46 p.m. ET

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The temporary road checkpoint where American troops mistakenly killed an Italian intelligence agent last week was set up to provide extra security for U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, a U.S. Embassy official said Thursday.






http://www.thenation.com/docprint.mhtml?i=20050307&s;=scahill
Shooting the Messenger

by JEREMY SCAHILL

[from the March 7, 2005 issue]

One of the most powerful executives in the cable news business, CNN's Eason Jordan, was brought down after he spoke out of school during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in January. In a rare moment of candor, Jordan reportedly said that the US military had targeted a dozen journalists who had been killed in Iraq. The comments quickly ignited a firestorm on the Internet, fueled by right-wing bloggers, that led to Jordan's recanting, apologizing and ultimately resigning after twenty-three years at the network, "in an effort to prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished by the controversy."

But the real controversy here should not be over Jordan's comments. The controversy ought to be over the unconscionable silence in the United States about the military's repeated killing of journalists in Iraq.
See also:
http://www.thenation.com/docprint.mhtml?i=20050307&s;=scahill
http://www.kkfi.org

This work is in the public domain

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