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    August 22, 2016

    What you believe if NPR is your news source, and why it matters

    August 22, 2016 - Fort Russ News - 
    op-ed By: Tom Winter & Joaquin Flores 

    National Public Radio is one of the US's state media institutions, despite the protestation to the contrary. It serves a critical role in providing left-cover for US imperial and military adventurism in the world today and like much of the western press, plays an active role in encouraging military interventionism, as you will see below.

    The beauty of NPR is that it is a microcosm, a mirror reflection, of the entire US project and self-conception. The parallels between the views of NPR's target demographic, (middle-aged, college educated, whites who are left-of-center), and how this demographic views the US in the world, might otherwise seem uncanny. That is, of course, until we come to terms with the nature of media and NPR's role in it.

    The role of media in shaping world events and our thinking about them is indisputable. Whether news, entertainment, or advertising, media is much more than a mere reflection of reality - it is a reality creator. Any ambivalence about this point should be quickly disabused by a cursory glance at the multi-billion dollar advertising industry, the primacy of seizing TV and radio stations in a coup attempt, that TV and radio stations are primary military targets in war, or the controls that governments and corporations impose on internet access. None of these would be important if media merely reflected a reality which was already a consensus. To the contrary, media is a consensus builder.

    There is no doubt that the United States is a rather unique place, being so deeply concerned about problems of injustice and tyranny, and yet having to venture so from its own shores in order to find them. With the first world war, the US christened its adventurism in the 20th century in the church of human rights and democracy. Every adventure since then has been framed out of a concern for these universal rights.

    NPR reflects and reinforces this view. The quality and message of the programming of NPR's nearly 30 regular shows, employing over 300 people, is often contrasted to the overtly hawkish Fox News, or the substance deprived CNN. NPR uses the medium of radio, and its commercial-free platform, to dig beneath the surface of world events. It provides its listeners with far more factual information about places of imperial US interest around the world. Listeners may learn about interesting musical instruments in Nigeria, or about a water rights dispute between Amazonian natives and a government in South America. In general it presents a 'world view', often rebroadcasting BBC international's radio, alongside its own domestically produced radio.

    It teams with other US funded projects - when reporting on Eastern Europe, Eurasia, or the Balkans, it tends to rebroadcast segments of the CIA and NED's media project, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. In that sense, it is not irrational to view NPR as the US's internal version of RFE/RL.

    And yet within the US, its educated classes - whom one might think ought to know otherwise -  tend to be quite uninformed about either the nature or the scope of NPR's relationship with the CIA/NED, or what role it serves in misinforming the public. What is also immediately noticeable is the general political and geopolitical illiteracy of any number of NPR hosts themselves.

    What this all adds up to is one-to-one relationship between the doctrine of our US State Department and the international news as presented by NPR:

    "Aleppo is under siege"

    This is a shameless lie by omission. Notably, NPR will not mention Aleppo without it's being called "under siege," or 'besieged." A complete omission of who is holding Aleppo. Factually, Aleppo is held by Al-Nusra, the Al-Qaeda affiliate. Al-Nusra murders civilians trying to escape the "besieged" city, and uses them for human shields. 

    "Assad is a monster"

    This heading is an actual quote from an American who gets all her news from NPR. And who could doubt it? Here is NPR's David Greene, on Morning Edition, April 21, 2014: 

    "One year ago today, a chemical attack killed hundreds of people in a suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus. The United Nations later said all evidence pointed to the government of Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad." 

    But the UN report said all the evidence pointed to chemical weapons being used, and said NOTHING about who used them. Carla del Ponte, from the UN investigating team, said publicly: ‘This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.’ It was not the UN, but the US. NPR did not present the difference. There is one.

    Of course, painting Assad as a monster (and having people believe it) has international effect, leading to many calls for US intervention. Perhaps the best example is the Houla massacre of May 25, 2012. NPR joined the Western MSM in assigning blame to Assad: "Western countries and the United Nations blame Syrian government troops and pro-government thugs for killing more than a hundred people, nearly half of them children." The reaction was predictable: Assad must be stopped!

    Cui bono? More than anything else this massacre served to isolate Syria. The west en bloc -- eight countries all at once -- used the Houla massacre as the reason to recall their ambassadors from Syria.*** There were calls for Obama to unseat Assad -- perhaps the desired effect. To learn any different, you had to read German, as first the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, June 7, 2012 revealed who really performed the massacre. Assad? No. But the damage remained.

    "Crimea was a Russian land grab"

    Another heading directly quoting an American NPR listener. No dummy, either, but a retired M.D. And what even-minded listener could doubt it? NPR's first term for it was "Russia's takeover of Crimea." Similarly "Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in March." And "Western countries were furious that Russia grabbed that piece of Ukraine." This point of view is precious for US/NATO policy, as the whole "make Russia pay" policy hinges on it.

    We need hardly repeat here what Fort Russ readers already know, but here are three essentials that the NPR listener has never heard: 

    Crimea has been Russian since the time of Catherine the Great. 

    Even though no changes in USSR internal boundaries could legally be done without the voice of the people affected, Nikita Khrushchev, one drunken afternoon decided to assign Crimea to Ukraine, arguing that since the USSR was all one, it didn't make any difference. NPR almost acknowledged this once, more than two years ago. The West's insistence on restoring the "territorial integrity of Ukraine" is thus an insistence on the sanctity of Khrushchev's whim. 

    In stark contrast to "One Khrushchev, one vote," the people affected were given a voice, and their voice said "Russia!" 

    "Russian Aggression"

    This is everywhere. Search the term "NPR Russian Aggression" and stand back from the flood of hits. Those with the stomach for it can read Victoria Nuland's statement to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee this past June. All about "Russian aggression." And of course, on that same day, June 7, 2015, Barack Obama was telling the G-7 "the West must stand up to Russian Aggression," and NPR is there. The unholy choir, Victoria Nuland, the US State Department, Barack Obama, NPR, all singing from the same sheet music.

    As our readers know, this is projection, deserving only biting satire, such as when Matt Lee demonstrated the absurdity of the US State Department's insistence on "Russian Aggression: 

    “Is it not logical to look at this and say that NATO has moved closer to Russia rather than Russia has moved closer to NATO? … You’re moving closer to Russia and blaming Russia for being close to NATO.”

    Or this simple illustration, for instance:

    The United States, France, Britain, Spain, Germany, Italy, Australia, and Canada recalled their ambassadors and high-ranking diplomats from Syria "in protest over the killing of over 100 people in the Houla massacre," and Switzerland declared the Syrian ambassador persona non grata.

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    Item Reviewed: What you believe if NPR is your news source, and why it matters Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Tom Winter
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