To the editors:
The recent exchanges between Glenn Garvin (beginning with his "How Do I Hate NPR?," June 25, then followed by his August 13 reply to his critics), Jim Naureckas, the editor of FAIR's EXTRA! (Letters of August 13 and September 3), and finally Bill Sheldon (Letters of August 13 and September 3--the latter rightly bemoaning these exchanges for their rivaling "War and Peace in length") were a scream.
For my money, Garvin's an ass. Not content merely to drop his intellectual drawers in public, the way he did with his June 25 article, Garvin's August 13 reply to Naureckas went even further, and mooned his readers, too.
"Naureckas is not a media critic but an NPR public-relations spokesman," Garvin quipped on August 13, embarrassing himself beyond measure. Not even the time-honored plea of temporary insanity would be enough to acquit Garvin after having committed that big of a howler.
One other thing. Whether NPR is balanced in its coverage, or exhibits a slightly left-liberal bias on behalf of positions advocated by the Democratic Party (whatever either of these options would mean), or is in fact guilty of neither charge, misconceives the point of media criticism, I'm afraid.
We ought to approach the practices of the media the same way we would approach private property or the state: from an anarchist's point of view, that is.
The primary responsibility of the institutions of a society is always to reproduce the social order; and the closer their proximity to the society's center(s) of power the greater the burden this responsibility will place on them.
A safe bet is that whatever is true of the various factions of both wings of the National Political Party will prove equally true of NPR. Oh, sure, they may have their differences among them. But these differences shouldn't surprise us. They remain organs of established power nonetheless.
That's the Big Picture, in my opinion--and one that even the best of media critics (the folks at FAIR included) often lose sight of for all the details. The rest is factional infighting. Of tertiary importance. And seldom worth getting excited over.
Or as the more worldly Horatio once upbraided his friend the prince while they stood together on the ramparts of Elsinore:
Hamlet: There's never a villain
dwelling in all Denmark,
But he's an arrant knave.
Horatio: There needs no ghost,
my lord, come from the grave
To tell us this.