Love NPR, Hate NPR

April 30, 2008

It’s hard to imagine not having NPR on most of the time during the week. I don’t watch TV news, unless a huge news event occurs — 9/11, Katrina, and so forth. NPR‘s news is generally even-handed and not as entertainment-driven as most broadcast media have become. I like the interviews, like hearing music I might otherwise never hear, and like the sound of it from afar — a reassuring background noise.

That said, NPR recently has become a Clinton lovefest. Yes, I’m biased in favor of Barack Obama and therefore sensitive to even a change in an anchor’s tone of voice when discussing the Democratic candidates.

Two weeks ago I emailed NPR to complain about Cokie Roberts‘ report on Obama’s so-called “bitter” comment. She said he was “disparaging” voters. I contend he wasn’t. All I got back were an automated response that my email was received and several days later a perfunctory form letter than didn’t address my specific complaint.

But this morning I wanted to throw the radio in the garbage. Morning Edition had yet another story about Jeremiah Wright and Obama, which was a rehash of what it had broadcast yesterday. It was immediately followed by what in my newspaper days we called a “suck piece.” It was an endless feature about how long Clinton’s typical day is, how many campaign stops she squeezes into her 17-hour day, and generally how she has endless energy. Isn’t that true of Obama, too? And isn’t that rather apparent this late in the campaign? It’s tantamount to me excitedly reporting the sun rose in the East.

Yet, I heard not a peep about the report yesterday that Clinton has requested federal budget earmarks of $2.3 billion for 2009, triple those of any other senator. I guess David Greene, the NPR reporter traveling with the Clinton campaign, was too tuckered out to report actual news, news that might actually inform the electorate.