NPR ombudsman tackles ‘too liberal’ (5×8 – 10/18/11)


Edward Schumacher Matos, the NPR ombudsman, has delivered a smackdown to allegations from some conservatives that NPR overhyped coverage of the phone hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s UK news tabloid. You may recall that reporters for News Corp., hacked into the voicemails of a missing woman, and deleted some of them, giving hope to one family that their daughter was still alive. She wasn’t.

Schumacher Matos, in an incredibly lengthy post for a blog, answered charges yesterday that the depth of NPR’s coverage was payback to Fox (another Murdoch operation), which is not traditionally friendly with NPR:

NPR has rightly given a lot of coverage to the scandal, but not more so than other major news organizations or even The Wall Street Journal itself. With the glaring exception of one online headline, NPR’s coverage has been professional, sound and calm. There has been no underlying tone of smacking lips, and certainly no liberal bias.

At the height of the coverage, the 15 days between July 7 and July 22, when new revelations and events rolled out almost daily, NPR aired 49 stories, not counting hourly Newscast briefs. This is an average of roughly 3 stories a day across seven hours of news programming on weekdays and roughly half that on weekends. Some listeners complained that this was too much, but the story count paralleled that of other news organizations, including the Wall Street Journal.

The Wall St. Journal is owned by Murdoch.

Schumacher Matos doesn’t stop there. He takes on the entire “is NPR liberal?” question and its alleged lack of diversity. Those are two separate issues, rolled into one.

My focus is on whether conservative or minority voices are editorially being frozen out. I am Latino and it does seem to me that NPR needs more minority voices of all sorts on air. But I also recognize that minorities are working their way up and haven’t fully arrived yet. I am a testament to NPR’s openness, but will follow how many more come.

The timing of the column is noteworthy, coming as it does several days after an open letter to the new NPR boss Gary Knell, urging him to “root out liberal myopia.” It came from Joel Dreyfuss is The Root’s managing editor and a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists.

I imagine a news show that doesn’t treat the occasional story involving downtrodden African Americans, Hispanic Americans or poor people like a dutiful piece of foreign reporting before reverting to its dulcet-toned narrative of all things white and comfortable. I imagine an NPR that includes black and brown and female experts on the economy, ecology, energy, foreign affairs and everything else, instead of your standard bland diet of the same old tired voices that already pollute mainstream media.

Mr. Knell, those of us from the news media who have struggled for decades to diversify the storytelling stream could give you many examples of bosses who didn’t have the breadth of imagination — or courage — to embrace the model of America we saw, and that we lived every day. That hasn’t shaken my belief that no one group, gender, ethnicity, religion — or, yes, race — has a monopoly on the truth, insight or analysis.

Schumacher Matos didn’t mention Root’s letter in Monday’s post, but he promises a second installment later today.


rachel_lio.jpg At the hockey tournaments last spring, the kids from Duluth East High School waved signs and wore blue “The Love is on for Rachel” T-shirts. They were supporting a classmate fighting liver cancer. Many people started following her Facebook page and her Caring Bridge site, where she last wrote the week before last:

you people need not be concerned about my mental and emotional well being. Trust me. I feel totally accepting of all of this. Like really. What happens, happens, and it will when it will. I am living this beautiful life until im not anymore, just like all of us.

There were dozens of fundraisers in the Duluth area to help her and her family pay for her fight. She died Sunday at age 18.


Sure, it’s just a joke, but it sounds plausible. That’s what makes the Borowitz Report’s “Letter from Goldman Sachs” funny in the first place (h/t: Tim Roesler):

The answer is the newly launched Goldman Sachs Global Rage Fund, whose investment objective is to monetize the Occupy Wall Street protests as they spread around the world. At Goldman, we recognize that the capitalist system as we know it is circling the drain – but there’s plenty of money to be made on the way down.

The Rage Fund will seek out opportunities to invest in products that are poised to benefit from the spreading protests, from police batons and barricades to stun guns and forehead bandages. Furthermore, as clashes between police and protesters turn ever more violent, we are making significant bets on companies that manufacture replacements for broken windows and overturned cars, as well as the raw materials necessary for the construction and incineration of effigies.

But seriously, folks: Goldman reported its quarterly earnings this morning. It lost money for only the second time in its history. This will tank the stock market today. Bank of America, on the other hand, reported a more than $6 billion profit, but it had to sell the fine china to make it.

If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. Civil protest is gold for comedy…

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Occupy Wall Street Spreads
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

“When I saw that it was growing and there was Occupying Portland and Occupying New Hampshire, I thought, for goodness’ sake, what can I occupy? How can I get on this?” Diane McEachern said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. “And I thought, well, what’s my context? What’s important to me?”

McEachern is occupying the Tundra.


And now she’s a big hit on the Internet. today has published a guide to protest, including how to legally record things and estimate crowd sizes.


It’s only a matter of time before a major feature-length movie is filmed with a cellphone camera. We’ve come to expect a lot from these devices and it’s easy to forget how far they’ve come in a very short period of time. Take this video, shot last week on the new iPhone 4S…

A video shot on the iPhone 4S from Benjamin Dowie on Vimeo.

Benjamin Dowie made the video on the fly to show the capability of the iPhone, four million of which were sold in three days, or one every 15 seconds.

Today, the Droid RAZR is unveiled.

What’s the effect of all of this on babies? In the Boston area a mother noticed her infant is trying to swipe pages of books. She’s worried the critter will grow up not appreciating books for what they are — non interactive.


The debate started in 1983, when Christine Craft sued her Kansas City TV station for age discrimination. The debate, however, has never really gone away, but erupts in public from time to time. This is that time in Fargo where longtime anchor Robin Huebner reportedly filed an age discrimination complaint against KVLY last week, tried to resign this week and instead was told to leave immediately, according to the Fargo Forum.

Huebner, 50, was bumped from the flagship newscast in favor of a 26-year-old woman.

“Twenty-five years after the Christine Craft case, it seems local television stations may be more worried about their survival than their reputations,” former network reporter Deborah Potter wrote on the subject last year after noticing a rising number of age discrimination suits at TV stations. “Viewers already are tuning them out. Revenue is down. What do they really have to lose in a public fight against a discrimination claim?”

Bonus: Some communities are bound by a state fair, some by a whale hunt.

Bonus II: At the World Scrabble Championship in Poland, a player from Thailand demanded his opponent be strip searched. It seems a “G” disappeared.


Gov. Mark Dayton on has set a Nov. 23 deadline for the Legislature to pass a Vikings stadium plan, but has not yet endorsed a specific proposal. Today’s Question: Do you expect a Vikings deal to get done, and should it?


The Big Story blog follows the day’s developments in the Vikings stadium debate.


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Excerpts of conversations with Chan Polling, the Jayhawks, Adam Levy, Dessa and Chris Koza

Second hour: From Prince to Husker Du to Brother Ali, the Twin Cities music scene has been fluorishing now for more than three decades. Midmorning looks at the elements that have made the Twin Cities such a vibrant music scene.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – Both hours: Dr. Jon Hallberg on health and medical issues in the news.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: the politics of immigration

Second hour: When a health crisis involves mental health, most people have no clue. A new program hopes to change that.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – As they redesigned a property tax relief program for homeowners, state lawmakers aimed to make it progressive. People who own lower value homes may even see their taxes go down next year. Businesses and the owners of expensive homes will tend to pay more under the new system, but so will rental properties. And that means renters, who tend to be lower income, will likely see their rents go up. MPR’s Curtis Gilbert will look at the new system.

Russell Banks’ latest novel, “Lost Memory of Skin,” explores the world of a young sex offender living under a bridge in Florida. As he has done in his previous works Banks reveals the humanity within a character reviled by the community around him. When he meets a college professor who wants to make him a part of a sociological study, the Kid as he is known, finds his life is taking a turn towards the even stranger. Banks reads Tuesday night at Magers and Quinn in Minneapolis. MPR’s Euan Kerr talks with him.

  • Mark Gisleson

    If there’s one thing NPR most definitely is not, it’s too liberal. I can’t remember one article I’ve read on he said/she said journalism that did not mention NPR, a network that is seemingly terrified of ever presenting a viewpoint without soliciting an opposing viewpoint, regardless of merit.

    On NPR, there are always two sides to every story, whether there are two sides or not.