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Why Fox News Will Keep Bullying NPR

By       Message Eric Boehlert     Permalink
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In the wake of the James O'Keefe smear campaign against NPR, which arrived in the form of dishonestly edited undercover tapes (does O'Keefe know any other form?), public radio host Ira Glass expressed dismay that nobody was "fighting back" against the right-wing attacks. "I find it completely annoying, and I don't understand it," said Glass.

Instead of fighting back against the right-wing attacks led by Fox News, NPR hit the panic button last week. It prematurely condemned a colleague and got busy "rolling bodies out the back of the truck," as the New York Times' David Carr put it, referencing the public sacking of CEO Vivian Schiller and senior fundraiser Ron Schiller, who was featured in the O'Keefe tapes. Both were made sacrificial lambs for the O'Keefe stings; lambs that were sacrificed before the full truth about the unethical tapes were revealed.

Note to NPR: If you don't stand up, the bullying is never going to stop.

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It seems obvious that Fox's odd, deeply personal hatred for the venerable news institution comes from the very top. Roger Ailes recently likened NPR executives to members of Hitler's Nazi regime. Y'know, the Nazis who sought to conquer Europe and eradicate Jews. That's who Ailes compared NPR executives to. (Ailes later apologized to the ADL for using the Nazi term. Ailes though, refused to apologize to NPR.)

Meaning, the brand of radical conservative who has NPR in their sights today is not the same type of conservative critic who tweaked the network's supposedly liberal bias in the past. This new brand of bully is borderline delusional about NPR and sees it as a genuine force of evil; a hub of sinister activity.

For years when confronted with partisan taunts from the right, NPR took the high road and let its journalism speak for itself. The thinking seemed to be that sensible people could distinguish between the award-winning work the network produced and the unfair mischaracterization of NPR that got paraded around by conservatives. Also, in terms of landing critical funding support on Capitol Hill, public brawls with conservatives were frowned upon. (It's unseemly.) So low-key won out the day.

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Eric Boehlert is the author of Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush (Free Press, 2006). He worked for five years as a senior writer for Salon.com, where he wrote extensively about media and politics. Prior to that, he worked as a (more...)
 

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