NPR in desperate hope for federal funds becomes like Fox

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images for U.S. News and World Report

Roger Ailes opposes not only NPR but also Michelle Obama's healthy eating campaign. Click for a much larger (though by no means life sized) image. It is nonetheless scary. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images for U.S. News and World Report.)

National Public Radio has always been a thorn in the side of Republicans. Its incessant objectivity just grated on their nerves. This was not the way news is supposed to be broadcast in this country. Ever since the First Amendment was adopted by the First Congress, it was clear that the purpose was to provide a platform for an Australian media magnate to spew right wing views and attempt to monopolize all political discourse. NPR is neither Australian, nor a media plutocrat, nor trying to monopolize discourse. And that’s why they must be taken down. After all, Roger Ailes, the brains behind the campaign to smear Dukakis on behalf of Bush the Elder, and currently the brains behind Fox News, has called out NPR for failing to fall in line with the Rupert Murdoch view of things:

“They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view. They don’t even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive.”

You may recall the left-wing of the Nazis. They had a brief existence, mainly involving burning down the Reichstag. In any event, Roger Ailes has apologized to the ADL for calling NPR “Nazis.” He says he was ad-libbing. Presumably he meant to call them the left-wing of the Stalinists.

So Republicans having been instructed by their media controllers what should be done with NPR, the new Republican House quickly followed suit and passed a bill that defunded NPR. Now if this action stands, you NPR listeners will no longer get news (or not as much) and can look forward to hearing more eighteenth century flute concertos only occasionally interrupted by someone with a fake British accent overpronouncing French words like “Ouverture.”

But NPR intends to fight back. Its strategy is to become more like Fox News. They took a first step today by bringing on as an “expert” former ambassador John Negroponte to discuss America’s strategic position in Libya. Ambassador Negroponte was a good choice because, as Roger Ailes might point out, he could be characterized as on the right-wing of the Nazi Party. You know, the ones who brought the petroleum to the Reichstag and later blamed the left-wing. (Mr. Ailes might not even have to apologize to the ADL for that remark.)

Ambassador Negroponte, for you young ’uns out there, was once Ronald Reagan’s man in Honduras. He was ambassador there to appease the military thugs who ran that goverment so that the Reagan Administration could illegally run guns to the contras in next door Nicaragua. It would ordinarily take a strong stomach to deal with the Honduran goverment in those days, who regularly committed gross human rights violations. Fortunately, Negroponte knew nothing about it. And he has so testified. The ability to not see what was in front of him has served him well. It resulted in George W. Bush appointing him to the job of being “America’s first national intelligence director.” Intelligence involves far more than knowing facts; it often, very often, involves not knowing them.

It is important in today’s era of Republican ascendency to be able to ignore facts in order not to frustrate the implementation of preconceived policy or to embarrass political friends who may not have been paying attention. Ignorance, genuine is best but feigned will do, is the best policy. Now in hearings on another nomination of the Ambassador, Senator Dodd of the Foreign Relations Committee  gave a pretty telling summation of the evidence that Ambassador in fact knew of the human rights violations of the government he was serving. But in today’s world, the fact that yet another Republican’s position does not square with evidence is about as newsworthy as yet additional evidence of greenhouse gas effect on climate; in other words, no one who is anyone has any interest. Heck, the current Administration doesn’t care and won’t prosecute anyone who actually tortured people. Why should anyone care if a former Ambassador lied about seeing others commit torture?

Well, our friend and NPR expert used his talents for bigger things. He was appointed as our man in Bagdad by George W. Bush. That was surely a job that didn’t call for truth. Nothing related to our involvement there involved any factual reality. It was the Oz of Republican foreign policy. You don’t really need a heart if you can wear one. You don’t need intelligence if you have a certificate. If you want to go home, just click your heels.

John Negroponte, life-long foreign affairs and intelligence officer who has never heard of a human rights abuse. Here he shows exactly how much truth the public is entitled to.

Anyway, there was an unpleasant dust up when Ambassador Negroponte was there. An Australian journalist reported that the Ambassador was aware that our hand-picked interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, had personally executed up to six suspected (but untried) ‘insurgents’ in front of four of his U.S. military bodyguards. Mr. Negroponte of course denied knowlecdge. Or, still better. He didn’t respond. Human rights abuses are not his beat. After all, is he Human Rights Watch? Certainly not. On questioning by this impertinent Australian, Negroponte’s Bagdad office emailed: “If we attempted to refute each [rumour], we would have no time for other business. As far as this embassy’s press office is concerned, the case is closed.” Negroponte’s entire life has been too busy to notice anything. If you were to follow it from beginning to end, you would find that he is something like a right-wing Forrest Gump, from his days in 1964 as a political affairs officer in Saigon to his holding-cell at Yale, where many Republicans are stashed waiting for the American people to wake up again. Negroponte’s job there has something or other to do with foreign affairs, or perhaps like another failed right-winger we’ve seen, leadership.

But Negroponte was right in not responding. The paper involved was the Sydney Morning Herald, and we all know that Australian media types have no interest in truth. Nevertheless, the columnist had this impertinent response:

One only has to consider Negroponte’s record as US ambassador in Honduras to know he is a loyal servant of Republican Washington who sees and knows nothing. An estimated 10,000 Nicaraguans and Honduran political opponents died at a time when, as The New York Times reported in September 2001: “The diplomat who presided over that embassy from 1981 to 1985 was a great fabulist.

“John Negroponte saw, or professed to see, a Honduras almost Scandinavian in its tranquillity, a place where there were no murderous generals, no death squads, no political prisoners, no clandestine jails or cemeteries. [He] exercised US power in ways that still reverberate throughout that small country. His most striking legacy, though, is the Honduras of his imagination.

“Most people who lived or worked in Honduras during the 1980s saw a nation spiralling into violence and infested by paramilitary gangs that kidnapped and killed with impugnity. Negroponte would not acknowledge this. He realised the Reagan policy in Central America would lose support if truths about Honduras were known, so he refused to accept them.”

This same man, with an embassy regime of more than 1000 American “foreign service officers”, plus American advisers “salted throughout Iraqi ministries” as well as 140,000 US military personnel, now has absolute covert power in Iraq.

Of course “the case is closed”.

So this is the man NPR looks to for expertise. Of course they brought up none of this unpleasantness. They were as polite to him as they would be to you or me during a fund drive. And why shouldn’t they be? Aren’t they actually doing this stunt for the benefit of the Republican House? The question is whether it will work.

I think not. I suggest that if they really want to impress the Republicans who write checks, they replace E.J. Dionne with Glenn Beck to discuss the week with David Brooks on Friday and give Ann Coulter the political analysis spot on Saturday mornings that was formerly the gig of the late Daniel Schorr. That might placate them enough to fund NPR just like they fund Armed Services Radio, which broadcasts Rush Limbaugh’s radio show to the troops. But these new Tea Party Republicans are such a headstrong lot, perhaps NPR should also accuse the Commander in Chief of treason just like Limbaugh routinely does in those messages to our troops.

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