28 January 2010

"Objectivity" at npr?

This evening driving home the weather was especially bad - high winds and lots of snow. I was listening to All Things Considered as the traffic inched along. The npr folk broadcast this segment on Howard Zinn who died earlier this week. Mostly they solicited reflections from admiring friends and colleagues - from people who actually knew him. That is as it should be. But the reporter, Allison Keyes, then interviewed the venomous David Horowitz. I can only imagine that this was intended as a gesture toward "objectivity." There was no indication that Horowitz was personally acquainted with Zinn. And he is ideologically disabled from grappling with Zinn's writing and activism in a constructive way. Horowitz, as could be expected, managed to deride and dismiss Zinn and his work in its entirety.

Horowitz is, to be polite, a member of the lunatic fringe right. Imagine if, when William Buckley or Irving Kristol or Milton Friedman had died, the npr report had included comments from Noam Chomsky or Cornel West or even Howard Zinn. None of them is as far to the left as Horowitz is to the right. Yet it would have been inappropriate to solicit their assessments of these towering heroes of the intellectual right. Why then couldn't the staff at All Things Considered accord Zinn that same respect? Keyes's decision to include Horowitz’s remarks on Zinn indicates a total lack of seriousness. Better to be silent altogether.

When I posted about Zinn's death a couple days ago, I promised links to obituaries. Here are some: The New York Times here; Democracy Now! here; The Nation here; In These Times here.

Update (1 February 2010): There is a nice set of remembrances of Zinn here at The Nation.



Blogger Stan B. said...

Interesting observation! Probably the trade off for having that over the top radical liberal Juan Williams on FOX News...

29 January, 2010 14:21  
Blogger beatriz said...

i quit listening to npr about 5 years ago. the "objective" reportage became ridiculous. I began to see that the friends that are habitual listeners...the "progressives" and myself are only being flattered as being smart and informed by the occasional presence of Zinn and Chomsky et al. National Propaganda Radio........nothing blantant but definitely political pablum. tune in and eat junk food.

31 January, 2010 14:02  
Blogger a.f.c.tank said...

Okay, this post makes a fair point. I'd agree that, especially in reporting a death, the utmost respect should be extended to the deceased and that should include his or her body of work.

To address Beatriz: Writing off NPR seems just as radical and extreme as listening to NPR and only NPR. The best course of action would be to temper your "progressive" news intake with some good, old fashioned "preservationist" talking-bigot news like Fox. Then, take a step back and consider which organization seems to be most reasonable.

Moderation, please: Wisdom doesn't live on the far ends of the political spectrum.

afctank.blogspot.com (and, yes, it's somewhat progressive, ha!)

01 February, 2010 14:12  

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