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NPR Distortions

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To the editors:

This letter is in reply to your bashing of National Public Radio ["How Do I Hate NPR?," June 25]. Among other disturbing things about your article is the curious fact that the identical story appears in the New York Press of May 28, 1993, so I may assume that the Glenn Garvin byline does not represent the work of a local writer, information which should have been made clear. One would hope that this reprint ploy is not an indication that the Reader is now willing to subscribe to the insidious, albeit highly effective right wing propaganda of recent times, namely that the national media, including NPR, is overwhelmingly liberal, elitist, and "politically correct." With messages like that in the Reader, who needs Rush Limbaugh?

Not that NPR isn't deserving of criticism, they are, but not for the reasons that the snide and sarcastically biased Garvin diatribe intemperately lays out. As a board member of Chicago Media Watch/FAIR, the Chicago affiliate of FAIR, I also found it egregious to have Garvin purposefully distort the detailed and authoritative study of NPR made by Charlotte Ryan, a study that was commissioned by FAIR, a fact which Garvin didn't bother mentioning.

To get to legitimate criticism of NPR, the simple fact remains that they are now far from being the news source alternative to the national establishment media that they once were. There was an earlier time when we could hear live commentary by the likes of socialist Michael Harrington, balanced with a Linda Chavez echoing the Reagan viewpoint. Now these once stimulating and edifying time slots are filled with bland Ladies' Home Journal type of "human interest" features. Where is the vigorous debate that is now so badly needed? What we don't need is more parroting of Beltway pundits which seems to be NPR's byword of late.

The national FAIR office has sent a reply to the Reader nailing Garvin for his distortions and outright invention of "facts" in his article. This reply also effectively refutes your writer's ideological meanderings, and I would hope you would print it. The FAIR study of NPR offers a detailed review of a four-month sample of 2,296 stories with 5,507 featured sources overwhelmingly derived from government handouts and politically centrist or conservative think tanks. Compare this with Garvin's rambling pastiche which demonstrably and "deliberately distorted the content of NPR . . . to score ideological points" (a quote from FAIR's reply to you). For a copy of the "real goods" on NPR, perceptive Reader readers may contact Chicago Media Watch/FAIR, P.O. Box 10656, Chicago, IL 60610, 312-792-6436.

Bill Sheldon

Glenview

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