NPR: TELL THE TRUTH
Protests in St. Louis and Pittsburgh have been added! We have also posted a new flyer called "NPR's Track Record". Posters have been shipped to local organizers. If you need more, see the link under item 4 in the table of contents below for more information. The list of cities with times and places has been updated and is nearly final. (last update May 13, 2003, at 19:10)
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|CA (California)||IL (Illinois)||MO (Missouri)||RI (Rhode Island)|
|CO (Colorado)||IN (Indiana)||NJ (New Jersey)||TN (Tennessee)|
|CT (Connecticut)||MA (Massachusetts)||NY (New York)||TX (Texas)|
|DC (Dist. of Columbia)||MD (Maryland)||OH (Ohio)||WA (Washington)|
|FL (Florida)||MI (Michigan)||OR (Oregon)|
|IA (Iowa)||MN (Minnesota)||PA (Pennsylvania)|
5. News Reports on Previous Demonstration in
a. THE MEDIA: NPR is losing war of words on Mideast coverage (Boston Globe)
b. Angry crowd excoriates NPR's Mideast coverage (The Patriot Ledger, Quincy)
On May 14, 2003, demonstrations will be held outside the offices of NPR affiliate stations from coast to coast to protest NPR's biased coverage of the Middle East.
Individuals and Jewish organizations have met repeatedly with NPR editors and administrators over the course of the last decade, attempting to persuade NPR to cover Israel accurately and fairly. Instead of producing fair and accurate news, NPR has responded by hiring a public relations firm (the DCS Group) to convey to the public the impression that its Middle East coverage is fair and accurate. The public donations squandered on a public relations firm and, this winter, on a national tour during which NPR President Kevin Klose has attempted to persuade Jewish audiences that NPR's demonstrably biased coverage is, in fact, fair, would have better been spent on examining and removing the bias from NPR's news programming. We are not asking for censorship or for a pro-Israel editorial slant, merely for NPR to cover the Middle East without bias. Since meeting with NPR officials has not persuaded them to cover Israel fairly, we believe that friends of Israel are justified in withholding donations from a news network that routinely slants its coverage in ways that defame Israel.
Only 10% of the budget of any NPR affiliated station comes from the government; the remainder is donated by the public, by foundations, and by businesses whose names and products are then announced on air. NPR national does not receive government money directly (except for occasional program-specific grants that constitute less than 2% of its budget.) Over half of the national budget is funded by station dues; the remainder comes in from corporate sponsors and foundation grants.
In Boston, we have already taken well over $1 million from a $20 million budget by persuading individuals and businesses to withhold their donations. This is accomplished through our No-Pledge campaign and by a careful effort to persuade businessmen and Jewish institutions to withhold sponsorship until NPR begins to cover Israel fairly. We believe that if donors in other cities withheld a similar proportion of station budgets, NPR would have a significant incentive to reexamine the fairness of its coverage of Israel. Remember that we are discussing voluntary donations now being made by friends of Israel to a news organization that broadcasts reports subtly inimical to the security and continued existence of the Jewish State.
Our immediate goal is to make the public aware that NPR's Middle East coverage is so biased as to be untrustworthy. Too many Jewish listeners react to NPR's coverage by feeling guilty about the way the Jewish State is 'mistreating' the Palestinians. Many others assume that the Middle East is just another situation where both sides are equally at fault. Indeed, it would be difficult for an NPR listener to realize that peace in the Middle East has been blocked by Arab refusal to recognize Israel. In the NPR version of history, it is Israeli "hard-liners" who are the obstacle to peace, not the ongoing Arab refusal to accept Israel's existence. We hope to plant a seed of doubt so that NPR listeners will react to an NPR report by thinking, "Yes, but this station is always biased toward the Palestinian side of the story." We believe that this is both important and achievable.
Links in the table below:
|CA||Fresno||KVPR||6:00||3437 W Shaw
|CA||Los Angeles||KCRW||11:00 am||1900 Pico Blvd
Santa Monica, CA
|CA||San Diego||KPBS||6:00 pm||
5200 Campanile Drive
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA
on Market St opposite 101 Market St
(note: not at radio stations)
San Francisco, CA
|CO||Denver||KFCR||5:15 pm||2249 S Josephine St
|CT||Fairfield||WSHU||6:00 pm||4200 Park Ave at the
Bridgeport/Fairfield town line
|CT||Hartford||WNPR||6:00 pm||240 New Britain Ave
|CT||New Haven||WNPR||6:00 pm||20 Lincoln Way
New Haven, CT
|noon||635 Massachusetts Ave NW
|FL||Miami||WLRN||6:00 pm||172 NE 15th St
|FL||Orlando||WMFE||6:00 pm||11510 East Colonial Dr
University of South Florida Campus
|IA||Des Moines (Ames)||WOI||5:30 pm||Communications Building
Iowa State University
Pammel Dr, Ames, IA
740 Bismark Rd NE
|IL||Chicago||WBEZ||noon||Federal Plaza at Adams & Dearborn
(in front of the Loop Post Office)
Chicago, IL (not at station)
|IN||Indianapolis||WFYI||5:30 pm||1401 North Meridian
Indianapolis, IN 46202
Hampshire House, U. Mass.
131 County Circle
2216 North Charles St
|MI||Detroit||WDET||6:00 pm||4600 Cass Ave
|MN||Minneapolis / St. Paul||KNOW||5:00 pm||45 E 7th St
St. Paul, MN
|MO||St. Louis||KWMU||5:00 pm||8001 Natural Bridge Rd
St. Louis, MO
|NJ||Newark||WBGO||6:00 pm||54 Park Place
|6:00 pm||Suffolk County Community College
533 College Road
Selden, Long Island, NY
|NY||New York||WNYC||6:00 pm||One Centre St (Saint Andrews Plaza)
New York, NY
|NY||Rochester||WXXI||noon||280 State St
3100 Chester Ave
2400 Olentangy River Road
7140 SW Macadam
Independence Mall West
150 N 6th St
Des Places Language Center
Duquesne University Campus
intersection of Locust and Stevenson Sts
One Union Station
Sidewalk in front of Centennial Park
(across the street from Borders)
Outside Central Market
|WA||Seattle||KUOW||6:00 pm||4518 University Way NE
The material below can be viewed as an Adobe PDF file (and printed out) by clicking on the following link: NPR_Bias_Flyer.pdf.
NPR's Middle East coverage features repeated omissions of fact, misleading lack of context, and sympathetic coverage of Palestinian grievances. This is coupled with dismissive reporting of the difficulties faced by Israel. It adds up to a pattern of distortion.
Although blatant falsehoods have been broadcast, the real problem with NPR's Middle East coverage is an invidious pattern of double standards. NPR has invariably countered criticism of individual, one-sided programs by claiming that its coverage is balanced over time. In response, CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) has undertaken multiple, in-depth studies that have confirmed the severe lack of balance "over time." In three separate studies in less than two years, CAMERA found NPR programming severely skewed, giving substantially more air-time to Arab/Palestinian and pro-Arab speakers than to Israeli and pro-Israel voices and often omitting entirely any Israeli or pro-Israel voice. Here are some details.
After the first two months of the current Palestinian Arab terror war against Israel, CAMERA issued a 32-page report, "A Record of Bias: National Public Radio's Coverage of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Sept. 26-Nov. 26, 2000." Arab and pro-Arab speakers were given 77% more time on the air (in words spoken) than Israeli and pro-Israel speakers. Entirely one-sided programs were commonplace, whether devoted to assailing Ariel Sharon as a "war criminal," to characterizing Israel as a "Jim Crow" nation that should be done away with in its "apartheid" form, or to blaming Israel for excessive violence, anti-American riots in Arab capitals, and erosion of a supposed Arab commitment to peace. There were 41 segments in which only Palestinian/Arab or pro-Arab speakers were heard and just 24 programs in which only Israeli or pro-Israel speakers were heard.
In a ten-day review of all major news and interview programs during a time of unprecedented terrorism, including the Passover massacre of 29 people, the Matza restaurant attack in Haifa that killed 14, and multiple other lethal bombings and shootings, 62 Palestinians or other Arabs were heard on NPR, often expressing bitter accusations against Israel, while just 32 Israelis were interviewed. Numerous anti-Israel speakers, some extreme, were also heard denouncing the Jewish state. Adam Shapiro, notorious for defending Yasir Arafat in his Ramallah compound, was featured in a segment, and Jeff Halper, who advocates the end of Israel as a Jewish state, was heard. Not a single Jewish victim of the terrorist onslaught was mentioned by name, not one bereaved family was interviewed, and not one injured survivor was the focus of a story.
In a two-month review of all major news and interview programs, CAMERA found, again, only 41% of the speakers in Middle East related stories were Israeli or pro-Israel while 59% were Palestinian/Arab or pro-Arab. Even smaller percentages of actual time allotment were given to the Israeli side, which received only 35% in terms of words spoken compared to the Arab/Palestinian's 65%. Segments that excluded any Israeli voice while presenting exclusively Arab or pro-Arab views numbered 29, compared to just 9 in which only Israeli views were heard with no Arab voices.
According to NPR, the only "moderates" in the Arab-Israeli conflict are Palestinians and other Arabs. In CAMERA's June-July 2002 study, only Marwan Barghouti (now on trial by Israel for his involvement in terrorism), Sari Nusseibeh, Khalil Shikaki, Madi Abdel Hadi, along with Egyptian officials and the government of Saudi Arabia, were termed "moderate." No Israeli or Israeli leader was described as moderate. Israelis were called "hard-line" or "hard-liners." Hamas officials were never described as "hard-line." They were referred to as "Hamas official," "Hamas leader," "Hamas spokesman," or "Hamas founder." The founder of Hamas, one of the world's premier terrorist organizations, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, was termed a "spiritual leader" who is "charismatic" and "popular."
Although various Arab leaders were labeled "popular" or "prominent," including Marwan Barghouti, Sheik Yassin, Sari Nusseibeh, and Hanan Ashrawi, no Israelis were characterized as "popular" or "prominent" (During this time, the New York Times ran multiple articles noting the popularity of the Israeli government.)
NPR's response to documentation of its biased coverage has been to hire a public relations firm (the DCS group) to improve its image. We would all be better served if NPR spent publicly donated money to remove the bias from its coverage.
Here is another egregious example of NPR bias as described by Alex Safian in an article entitled Two Rules for Terrorists at NPR that appeared in FrontPageMagazine.com on March 12, 2003.
An Islamic extremist explodes a bomb amidst a crowd of civilians on March 4th, killing more than 20, including himself. Less than a day later another Islamic extremist explodes a bomb on a civilian bus, killing more than 15, including himself.
Parallel stories, but not covered in a parallel way on National Public Radio. In consecutive news segments on the March 5th broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition, the first attack was described as a "terrorist bombing," with "Muslim insurgents" the likely perpetrators. The report offered no explanation why the attack might have occurred, and in particular nothing that might have been construed as justification.
The second attack was reported without using any form of the word terror, and included nothing about who the likely perpetrators might have been, describing them only as "militants." Moreover, the attack, and similar attacks in the past, were implicitly justified as a "campaign against . . . occupation."
Why the gross disparity, with straight news reporting in the first case, and clear advocacy in the second? Of course, the answer is that the first attack was in the Philippines, and was carried out by the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front, while the second attack was in Israel, targeted Israeli civilians and was carried out by Palestinians.
Because Palestinians are virtually a protected class at NPR, the perpetrators of the attack in Israel are described not as Islamic extremists, or Muslims, or even Palestinians, but as "militants," who are said to be pursuing a "campaign against Israeli occupation." The fact that Hamas, which carried out the attack, considers all of Israel to be "occupied" was not deemed worthy of mention by NPR, nor the fact that the Palestinians had rejected at Camp David and Taba Israeli offers to end anything that could reasonably be called an "occupation."
Here are the steps to follow to organize a protest in your community.
By Mark Jurkowitz, Globe Staff, 1/15/2003
The body language said it all.
Sitting together on one side of the stage, leaning into the microphone, were the fiery prosecutors—Philadelphia Jewish Exponent executive editor Jonathan Tobin and Boston University journalism department chairman Bob Zelnick. Seated on the other side, seeming to sag in their seats, were the wary defendants—WBUR-FM general manager Jane Christo and National Public Radio president Kevin Klose.
The near-capacity crowd of about 900 who gathered at Boston's Temple Israel on Monday night for a debate on Middle East media coverage (mostly NPR's coverage) sided largely with the prosecutors. Staunch supporters of Israel, they applauded loudly when Zelnick or Tobin assailed what they saw as anti-Israel bias or shoddiness in public radio's reporting of the Palestinian-Israeli bloodshed.
Yes, Christo and Klose, the latter up from Washington, faced an uphill battle. But rather than wage one, they opted for a kind of patronizing surrender that can only dishearten their allies and invigorate their critics.
The tone of the discussion was set early. While Christo and Klose used their opening remarks to deliver a dispassionate, droning primer on the basic functions of their organizations—call it NPR and WBUR for dummies—their rivals came out charging.
"We are here because the events of the last few years have changed the discussion in the Jewish community ... about news reporting from Israel," Tobin declared. "It's about Israel's survival. ... We have a right to ask why NPR operates the way it does." The crowd cheered.
The battle over public radio's credibility is a serious one. In the past few years, supporters of Israel have effectively targeted NPR as the poster child for egregious anti-Israel bias. WBUR, the local outlet, has lost more than $1 million from underwriters who have suspended funding. The advocacy group CAMERA, or the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, has built a constituency by publishing harsh critiques of NPR's work. And when protesters chant, as they did on Monday night, that "NPR distorts the news, covers up attacks on Jews," it's a sign that animus against public radio is reaching toxic levels.
To their credit, Klose and Christo have sought, via much community outreach, to make peace with their detractors. But Monday's discussion—in which they relied on an unconvincing blend of deference, obfuscation, and condescension—revealed that they don't have a coherent strategy.
At Temple Israel, Christo went so far as to invite her critics to "come into our editorial meetings and listen to them." The invitation strained credulity. Yet when asked a reasonable question about whether those critics had planted the seeds for any stories that NPR might now be planning to do, Klose halfheartedly cracked: "Does Macy's tell Gimbels?" That joke had the effect of falling flat and seeming evasive at once.
Replying to an audience question on whether the BBC's Middle East coverage, which WBUR uses, was balanced or biased, Christo ducked, venturing that it "brings a very valuable perspective."
Most glaringly, Klose made no real effort to stand up for his organization. An intelligent man who seems temperamentally unsuited for spirited debate, he had difficulty speaking in plain, resonant language. Trying to describe how his reporters on the ground respond to a sudden spasm of violence, he talked about drawing "resources ... into immediate sequence."
The closest he came to a defense of what NPR obviously believes is its objective coverage of the conflict was to say that its mission is to seek out "many voices and present many scenes and many agonies to listeners."
If public radio is willing to wage a public battle on this issue, Klose might try a new tactic. He might explain—without semantic gymnastics—exactly why NPR thinks its Middle East journalism is fair and right.
That may not win any converts, but there didn't seem to be any at Temple Israel either. And at least NPR will extend to its detractors the courtesy of leveling with them.
Mark Jurkowitz's The Media column appears on Wednesdays.
This story ran on page C1 of the Boston Globe on 1/15/2003.
(C) Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.
By REBECCA SULLIVAN
The Patriot Ledger
BOSTON - In the packed sanctuary of a Boston synagogue, National Public Radio came under fire for its coverage of the Middle East last night.
A vociferous, standing-room-only crowd at Temple Israel on Longwood Avenue, many wearing stickers reading "NPR lies" and "NPR: No Pledge Radio" listened to NPR president and CEO, Kevin Klose and Jane Christo, the general manager of WBUR in Boston, discuss the station's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with Bob Zelnick, Boston University journalism department chair, and Jonathan Tobin, editor-in-chief of the Jewish Exponent, a Philadelphia newspaper. Former U.S. Attorney, Donald Stern, moderated the panel.
Tobin criticized the language used in NPR's coverage, focusing on the use of the words "militant" and "terrorist" to describe suicide bombers.
"Militants are people who organize unions, not people who blow themselves up," Tobin said to loud applause.
Tobin also said NPR's and other U.S. media outlets' coverage of the Palestinian suicide bombers differs greatly from the coverage of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
"After Sept. 11, we didn't receive from our news media glowing portraits of the grief of the bombers' families." he said.
Klose, who was repeatedly yelled at by angry audience members during his remarks, defended his station's coverage, saying reporters use "language that is accurate to the acts. We don't shirk from that."
Zelnick, who covered the Middle East for ABC News from 1984 to 1986, tackled WBUR's airing of BBC broadcasts, which he and Tobin said were flagrantly anti-Israel in its coverage of the Middle East.
But Zelnick said: "I would not deny people the opportunity to weigh their coverage against others."
Protesters at the forum called for NPR listeners to stop pledging money to the nonprofit radio network and distributed a list of corporate underwriters who support WBUR, asking them to cease their funding of the station because of its coverage of Israel.
Since last year, a number of underwriters have ceased their contributions to the station.
Christo said WBUR has seen a drop in pledges, and that she regrets that listeners choose to express their dissatisfaction by withholding their financial support. She encouraged listeners to write, call and E-mail her with their complaints and even visit the station to meet with her.
"I can't do anything unless I know about it," she said.
Klose said NPR covers the Middle East more than any broadcast outlet, and that the station is looking for a fourth Middle East correspondent to provide listeners with more context about the age-old conflict. Klose and Christo also said they welcomed the dialogue and criticism but would not say if the evening's discussion would change NPR's coverage.
Some audience members walked away unhappy with the responses of Klose and Christo.
"The NPR executives sidestepped most of the questions," Martin Idelson of Boston said. Judith Hanson agreed. "I wish NPR had been more direct," she said.
Dr. Bob Rosenthal, a Boston resident who attended the forum, said the issue of media bias is so important it should not be limited to one forum with one news outlet.
"It was informative, but I would like to see this discussion repeated with other members of the news media," he said.
Copyright 2003 The Patriot Ledger
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