Most of you know that I’m a Boy Scout leader. Part of my current job is to teach young scouts about citizenship as a merit badge counselor for Citizenship in the Community/Nation/World. These are three eagle-required badges that are frankly, in my opinion, the best and most important badges scouts earn. Here’s requirement #1 for CitNation:
Explain what citizenship in the nation means and what it takes to be a good citizen of this country. Discuss the rights, duties, and obligations of a responsible and active American citizen.
The first question I ask is, “What is the most important duty of a responsible and active American citizen?” They invariably answer, “Voting!” to which I answer, “NO! The most important duty of a citizen is to be informed!” After they give me puzzled looks, I then talk about the media. I tell them that they must consume multiple sources of media on both sides of the political spectrum because today all media is agenda driven. While you can argue that the overall objective of media is to make money (at least in this country), in so doing, media target a demographic of reader/listener/watcher and then create an agenda within that bubble.
No more clearly is this demonstrated than at National Public Radio. I’ve been listening to NPR since my college days. Over the arc of that 30 years, I’ve been conscious of a sea change in their agenda (i.e., marketing strategy). Today, NPR is perhaps the most overtly liberal “news organization” in the world. That’s OK, because I can balance out NPR with other, more conservative news sources such as Fox News, which is just as agenda driven as NPR.
But since the election, NPR has literally lost its mind. Virtually every story is about Trump and is negative. For example, on December 13, 2016, there were 19 stories during All Things Considered. Of the 19, 15 of them were either explicitly about Trump, or were topics where Trump was openly criticized for his views or criticized by association (e.g., Columbia Journalism Report Criticizes Exxon CEO’s Position On Climate Change). All of them were negative.
Of course, part of NPR’s hubris is their inconsolable grief over Hillary’s loss. No more clearly is this illustrated than in their focus on the 2.8 million popular votes by which Hillary “won.” (See CNN for an example of this.) Newsflash: Hillary didn’t win by 2.8 million, she lost by 74. The sweet irony of this story is the fact that there turned out to be more faithless electors voting for Trump than Hillary. Oops! I guess THAT strategy backfired! NPR’s focus on the popular vote in an effort to sway the ignorant electorate is disingenuous for an organization that considers itself an elite news organization – clearly manipulation.
I didn’t vote for Trump (I didn’t vote for Hillary, either). I think he’s a dangerous choice for the most powerful job in the world. He’s vain, thin-skinned, self-absorbed, pompous, imprudent, inexperienced, pandering, and self-righteously indignant. But I must admit that NPR’s rabid coverage of his transition plans have been so over the top that I’ve come to even defend him in certain circumstances. If NPR thinks he’s so bad that they are willing to completely sell their soul to the liberal left, I may be able to bring myself to support Trump, or at least to give him a chance. So, thank you NPR, for helping me get over my misgivings.