Tuesday, March 9, 2010


c. David Grim (taken 4/6/08)

Recently I had a short online discussion about the diversity of perspectives on NPR. Someone had implied that there is a certain homogeneity of political attitudes on public radio and that whatever this consists of can be used as a characterization for an editorial approach to an anthology of essays. It was meant as a convenient way to implicate both the book itself and anyone who enjoyed it. But to me, it resonated as a particularly myopic approach to criticism. It was an implication of everything that didn't fit this commentator's definition of "Real America".

Obviously this person has discounted NPR without having fully exposed himself to its programming. A quick illustration of this is the choice of guests on Terry Gross' Fresh Air to kick off this week. Yesterday she interviewed a professional dominatrix named Melissa Febos who put herself through college working in a Manhattan dungeon. Perhaps in isolation, this selection would seem to reinforce the contention that NPR is obsessed with a perverse urbanity capable of alienating Middle America. Certainly there are many prudish citizens that would find cause to bemoan the use of taxpayer dollars to promote such activity, and they might even have a point if the federal government had not gutted its funding for NPR during the Bush Administration.

But as if to directly contradict such notions, today's guest was David Walker, a former government comptroller, and adviser to Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush, and current CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Walker spoke about the growing crisis of debt the federal government faces, and the dangers it presents to the future of the United States.

You know, it's easy to find fault with a media phenomenon that covers such a wide range of material, ideas and orientations. It's easy to cherry pick and cite the few things that you find particularly objectionable. It's a lot more difficult to be open to the totality of the presentation.

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