MADNESS: The New York Times scans NPR!

FRIDAY, APRIL 12, 2024

But also, the flight of birds: Is this a form of madness? A possible second cousin to same?

Does it represent a possible dance of the fairies in the forest near Athens, Midsummer Night's Dream-wise? It's a front-page report in the New York Times on this very day!

Is this a lower-grade bout of madness? Print edition headline included, Vanesa Friedman's "CRITIC'S ESSAY" essay starts exactly like this:

A Battle for the White House, Fought With Beading and Silk

There were cherry blossoms. There were silk and glass butterflies. There were toasts. There was an entree inspired by a California roll and a performance by Paul Simon. But before that, there was the photo op, and the fashion.

On Wednesday evening, as the Bidens hosted Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan and his wife, Yuko Kishida, at the fifth state dinner of the Biden administration,  Jill Biden, wearing an evening dress from Oscar de la Renta, stood with her husband to greet their guests of honor at the North Portico.


On a night meant to underscore another powerful relationship—that of the United States and Japan — and reaffirm the strength of that mutual commitment through political stagecraft, the [de la Renta] label was an apt choice.

And it suggested that Dr. Biden, who has not always seemed interested in the game of fashion diplomacy, is gearing up with every means at her disposal to help amplify her husband’s message, not just as president but as the Democratic presidential nominee as he faces off against an opponent who revels in the reality TV nature of politics—complete with costumes.

The election will be fought partly in pictures, and already the pictures are starting to tell a story, at least when it comes to the women involved...

There are five front-page reports in today's New York Times. One deals with the death O.J. Simpson. Another deals with Shohei Ohtani's translator.

This third report treats the way the fashion choices of the prospective first ladies might swing this year's White House campaign. Might that editorial judgment represent a form of madness? 

We're prepared to let you decide.

Full disclosure! According to the report's identity line, Vanessa Friedman "has been the fashion director and chief fashion critic for The Times since 2014." It isn't her fault that someone decided to put this manifest drivel on the newspaper's front page.

That said, is it a cousin to sobbing, floor-pounding, undisguised madness when major newspapers function this way? Are we secretly back on the plains before Troy, where we meet Thestor's gifted son right at the start of Book One?

So he proposed
and down he sat again as Calchas rose among them,
Thestor's son, the clearest by far of all the seers
who scan the flight of birds.

Calchas was "the clearest by far" at the task of "scanning the flight of birds!" Today, within our continuing human madness, so is the fashion director and chief fashion critic of the well-known New York Times.

On the front page of today's Business section, the Times starts scanning NPR. Beyond the bare bones of the matter, the report doesn't say a whole lot. It's a report about this week's allegations concerning the way NPR now rolls:

NPR in Turmoil After It Is Accused of Liberal Bias

NPR is facing both internal tumult and a fusillade of attacks by prominent conservatives this week after a senior editor publicly claimed the broadcaster had allowed liberal bias to affect its coverage, risking its trust with audiences.

Uri Berliner, a senior business editor who has worked at NPR for 25 years, wrote in an essay published Tuesday by The Free Press, a popular Substack publication, that “people at every level of NPR have comfortably coalesced around the progressive worldview.”

Mr. Berliner, a Peabody Award-winning journalist, castigated NPR for what he said was a litany of journalistic missteps around coverage of several major news events, including the origins of Covid-19 and the war in Gaza. He also said the internal culture at NPR had placed race and identity as “paramount in nearly every aspect of the workplace.”

Beyond the bare bones, this Times report doesn't say much. Its authors even skip past the most striking specific claim to emerge from Berliner's essay—his claim that a census of staffers at NPR's headquarters in D.C. yielded a count of 87 registered Democrats versus zero Republicans—none.

(As we noted yesterday: We can't swear that those numbers are accurate. But that's what Berliner reported, and such numbers do leap off a page.)

Is something wrong with the way NPR is currently sifting the news? More specifically, is it true that “people at every level of NPR have comfortably coalesced around the progressive worldview?"

Is it true that the internal culture at NPR has placed race and identity as “paramount in nearly every aspect of the workplace?" Also, would it necessarily be wrong if some such assertions were accurate?

There's no way to answer those questions from reading Berliner's lengthy but sprawling essay—an essay which makes no attempt to nail down the accuracy of any particular claim. (Given the complexities of the world, it would be very hard to do so.)

Also, there's no way to know such things from reading Kevin Drum's post about Berliner's essay, accurate though it may (or may not) be in the three basic points Kevin covers. 

There's no way to know such things from reading the report in today's New York Times. Meanwhile, the pseudo-discussion of Berliner's essay performed on the Gutfeld! program last night was among the stupidest imitations of journalism ever broadcast by a "cable news" provider. But that's pretty much the way it rolls in our pair of large nations now.

One other point:

There's no way to assess the merits of Berliner's claims from reading the comments to Kevin Drum's post. 

Tomorrow, we'll walk you through a recent report on the PBS NewsHour which did traffic in the kinds of flawed "progressive" journalism Berliner attributes to NPR, or so it will say around here. 

We thought the work was astoundingly bad. To our surprise, it was done by one of our favorite rising journalists, joined by one of the program's wholly respectable and experienced co-hosts.

That said, there's no way to tell, from reading the comments to Kevin's post, whether Berliner was making decent points about NPR's work in the age of Trump. By way of contrast:

From the instantly nasty tenor of quite a few of the comments, you can something about us the humans —about our possible attractions to various forms of madness, especially to the basic human impulses which tend to lead on to war.

In Book One of Europe's earliest extant poem of war, the madness is quickly apparent. 

Agamemnon, lord of men, instantly says he's been gripped by a madness. (Tears stream down as he does.) At the time of the lord of men's breakdown, he says this madness has held him in thrall for at least the prior nine years.

As usual, the men were fighting over which of two warring civilizations would maintain rights to Helen, radiance of women—the most beautiful woman in the world. Next week, we vastly more enlightened moderns start our own clown-car courtroom fight over access to our own failing nation's number-one, best-known "porn star!"

Can we learn to see ourselves more clearly in the twenty-four books of the Iliad? In the comments to Kevin's post, the eternal human drive toward war is quickly rather apparent.

Quite often, there's no such thing as good-faith disagreement within those poisonous comments. Like the silly Southern boys cavorting for Miss Scarlett before venturing off to meet their deaths at the hands of the Yankees, successors to the rage of Agamemnon insult and attack, with fighting words, those others who fail to create the most perfect speech and analysis.

Some of these poisonous attacks are "race and identity" all the way down. These are the impulses to war from within our own Blue America, not from the ugly, misogynistic clown-car which pulls up to the Fox News Channel at 10 o'clock each weekday night.

We're wired to march ourselves off to war! The practice is general over "cable news" now, though nowhere quite as much as on the truly astounding and primetime / primitive Gutfeld! imitation of human life.

We're wired to subdivide into nations, then to provoke a hot war. Can we see this tendency a bit more clearly if we return to the cultural setting surrounding that poem of war?

We take you now to the 1990 Robert Fagles translation—more specifically, to the Introduction to that translation penned by the late Bernard Knox.

At the time, Professor Knox was Director Emeritus of Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. According to the leading authority, he possessed subject matter awareness.

At one point in his lengthy essay, Professor Knox described the cultural norms—and the human impulses—of those Euro forefathers. As we start, he's speaking about "the Greeks of historic times who knew and loved Homer's [war] poem:"

The Trojan War


For them history began with a splendid Panhellenic expedition against an Eastern foe, led by kings and including contingents from all the more than one hundred and fifty places listed in the catalogue in Book 2 [of the Iliad]. History began with a war. That was an appropriate beginning, for the Greek city-states, from their first appearance as organized communities until the loss of their political independence, were almost uninterruptedly at war with one another. The Greek polis, the city-state, was a community surrounded by potential enemies, who could turn into actual belligerents at the first sign of aggression or weakness. The permanence of war is a theme echoed in Greek literature from Homer to Plato. We Achaeans, says Odysseus in the Iliad, are

"the men whom Zeus decrees, from youth to old age,
must wind down our brutal wars to the bitter end
until we drop and die, down to the last man. "

And in Plato's Laws the Cretan participant in the discussion says: "Peace is just a name. The truth is that every city-state is, by natural law, engaged in a perpetual undeclared war with every other city-state." 

There was no lack of declared wars, either. The citizens of Athens in the great century of Greek civilization, the fifth B.C., were at war, on land and sea, for more years than they were at peace. In the Louvre in Paris there is an inscription, dating from the early 450s [B.C.], that lists the names of 171 men of one of the ten Athenian tribes, who died "in war, on Cyprus, in Egypt, in Phoenicia. at Haliels. Aegina. Megara in the same year." Athens at this time was fighting not only the Persian Empire but also her former ally against Persia, Sparta and its Peloponnesian League. She had been fighting the Persians continually since 480 and Sparta since 460. In 448 she made peace with Persia and in 446 with Sparta and the League. But the peace lasted only fifteen years. In 431 the Peloponnesian War began, to end in 404 with the surrender of Athens and the loss of her naval empire.

Even in Athens' greatest century, its citizens found themselves embroiled in constant wars. Further establishing the cultural record, the madness found throughout the Iliad had apparently come into being, as a work of literature, three or four centuries earlier.

That earlier madness inspired the Achaeans to spend ten years (brutally) dying in the dust before the walls of Troy as they tried to get Helen back. Judging from the Fagles translation, she had engaged in her move to Troy voluntarily, as with the one (alleged) act of congress engaged in by our modern-day "porn star."

With respect to the surrender of Athens in 404 B.C., we turn now to the leading authority on the subject. Here's what happened next:

The Athenian Defeat

The overall effect of the war in Greece proper was to replace the Athenian Empire with a Spartan empire. After the battle of Aegospotami, Sparta took over the Athenian empire and kept all its tribute revenues for itself; Sparta's allies, who had made greater sacrifices in the war than had Sparta, got nothing.

For a short time, Athens was ruled by the Thirty Tyrants, a reactionary regime set up by Sparta. In 403 BC, the oligarchs were overthrown and a democracy was restored by Thrasybulus.

The Thirty ruled for less than a year. In the meantime, here's some of what happened in Athens, as Plato and Socrates watched:

The rule of the Thirty

With Spartan support, the Thirty established an interim government in Athens. They reestablished the Boule, a council composed of 500 members. They appointed other officials, including 10 men who would rule the port town of Piraeus on behalf of the Thirty, and hired 300 mastigophoroi, whip bearers who would act as a police force. The Thirty oversaw trials in the Boule against Athenian leaders who had opposed the peace with Sparta and sentenced them to death. They then tried and executed a number of "undesirables" within Athens...

Instead of drafting a new constitution, the Thirty instead ruled Athens themselves, similar to the Spartan Gerouisa. They limited citizenship and the right "to share in the government" to only 3,000 selected Athenians. These hand-selected individuals had the right to carry weapons, to have a jury trial, and to reside within city limits. The list of the selected 3,000 was constantly revised. Although little is known about these 3,000 men ‒ for a complete record was never documented ‒ it is hypothesized that the Thirty appointed these select few as the only men the Thirty could find who were devotedly loyal to their regime.

Led by Critias, the Thirty Tyrants presided over a reign of terror in which they executed, murdered, and exiled hundreds of Athenians, seizing their possessions afterward. Both Isocrates and Aristotle (the latter in the Athenian Constitution) have reported that the Thirty executed 1,500 people without trial. Critias, a former pupil of Socrates, has been described as "the first Robespierre" because of his cruelty and inhumanity; he evidently aimed to end democracy, regardless of the human cost. The Thirty removed criminals as well as many ordinary citizens whom they considered "unfriendly" to the new regime for expressing support for democracy. One of their targets was one of their own, Theramenes, whom Xenophon depicts as revolted by Critias' excessive violence and injustice and trying to oppose him. Critias accused Theramenes of conspiracy and treason, and then forced him to drink hemlock. 

Many wealthy citizens were executed simply so the oligarchs could confiscate their assets, which were then distributed among the Thirty and their supporters. They also hired 300 "lash-bearers" or whip-bearing men to intimidate Athenian citizens.

They hired 300 whip-bearing men! Welcome to downtown Teheran!

The silly Southern boys got off fairly easy. Within the four corners of Gone With The Wind, some of them, as they lay there dying or dead, were nursed by Miss Scarlett herself.

Has something gone wrong at NPR? Because we rarely follow its work, we have no way of knowing. That said:

To this very day, our deeply-rooted human impulses are often very "wrong." Nor are Blue America's highest-ranking journalists always masters of technical brilliance.

Even here in Blue America, we regular citizens may be inclined to use fighting words, urging all others to war. And when we respond to sudden changes in human events, our basic judgments and our basic analytical skills may not be especially strong.

We blues sometimes tend to go wrong! For that reason, as dumbfounding at the nightly Gutfeld! program is, it's almost impossible to be wholly wrong if you're a corporate hireling in Red America today. 

Such people are now scrambling to explain Red America's position regarding abortion rights. Meanwhile, Blue America's pundit guild is scrambling to explain President Biden's astonishing silence and lack of action concerning the southern border. 

Even for someone like Gutfeld, along with his heavyweight wrestler and his gaggle of low-grade comedians, it's very hard for Red America's "analysts" to be totally wrong about President Biden's silence and inaction. After all the ugly, amazingly stupid insults, the termagant can always fall back on the president's peculiar lack of action, as can his colleagues around the 24-hour dial.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. Tomorrow, we'll take a look at a recent report where we'd say that the PBS NewsHour went way off the journalistic rails, very much in the manner Berliner attributes to NPR.

(Good people can get things wrong. We'll suggest that example.)

This morning, the New York Times scanned Uri Berliner's report about NPR. That said, can we sometimes see ourselves more clearly when we visit an ancient war poem?

On page B1, the New York Times scanned Berliner's critique. But out on page one, is Blue America's greatest newspaper still scanning the flight of birds?

Tomorrow: Kindergarten press corps?


  1. The NPR that pounded the inflation drums, and never reports on calls for a return to the 90% top tax rate or publicly-financed political campaigns/ elections?

    I didn't even know NPR had a penis, never mind one so big Conservatives would be jealous of it.

  2. A response by an NPR person tried to refute Berliner by pointing out how diverse their employees were. It boasted that 40% of the staff was people of color. The response completely missed the point that ethnic diversity is not the same as viewpoint diversity. The refutation said nothing about seeking diverse points of view.

    If I find the article I'll post a link.

    1. Do you think NPR pounded the inflation story to help Biden? Or did they get forced to, because the GOP sets the media's agenda?

    2. Everyone pounded the inflation story.

    3. Inflation is not a force of nature, which is how NPR inaccurately portrays it.

      NPR has a neoliberal bias, it is of no consequence who it employs.

      Inflation is primarily driven by profiteering, this is well established and understood by those not captured by old and outdated school economics 101 nonsense.

    4. Inflation has nothing to do with any "profiteering", whatever that might be. It's a result of throwing hundreds of billions of dollars into the circulation.

    5. 11:53: just use the word “neoliberal” as often as possible. It sounds bad, but means nothing.

    6. 11:58 inflation is primarily driven by profiteering, you are simply ignorant.

      Profiteering and neoliberal are common and basic terms with well known meanings, if you do not know what those words mean you have no business discussing economics.

      "Ignorance" means you do not know what you are talking about, you are ignorant, and there is no shame in that (other than it makes your comments hilarious), it just means you need to gain some knowledge.

    7. Profiteering always exists. If profiteering were the main cause of inflation, then the rate of inflation wouldn't vary so much over time.

    8. Joe Biden, being a well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory, should outlaw neoliberal profiteering. Immediately.

    9. Profiteering works best under certain circumstances that ebb and flow, such as natural disasters or military campaigns.

      DIC you are beyond ignorant of economic issues, your claim is moronic.

    10. And the well-meaning elderly man would've outlawed it years ago, if not for his poor memory.

    11. Your smug nonsense aside, Biden in fact has reduced inflation dramatically.

    12. Your ignorance is moronic, 12:55 PM.

    13. your dumbness is stinky

    14. Trump supporters focus only on the first three years of the Trump economy. I hate to break it to you, but the 2020 economic disaster happened during Trump's presidency. And while Trump can't be blamed for Covid itself, he can be blamed for his poor handling of it. Also, during every presidency, there are always events outside of the president's control that impact the economy. (Obama had to deal with the fallout from the sub-prime mortgage crisis.) The president still largely gets blamed if the impact is negative. When there's a Democratic president, your side blames any negative economic news on the president, regardless of external factors that might be to blame. Biden gets blamed for the high inflation we experienced until recently, even though the ultimate cause of that inflation was the aftereffects of Covid. If you blame Biden for high inflation, then to be consistent you have to blame Trump for the disastrous 2020 economy. If you don't blame Trump for 2020, then you can't blame Biden for high inflation. Incidentally, either way, under Biden the U.S. was able to curb inflation faster than other economically developed countries (which also had high inflation due to Covid), while also maintaining much lower levels of unemployment and higher wage growth.

    15. If inflation is caused by too much money in circulation, the fix is to raise taxes, which reduces the amount of money in the economy.
      If it’s caused by profiteering, the solution is anti- trust/ anti-monopoly regulation and enforcement.
      If you have any other existential problems, let me know. I have another 5 minutes free.

    16. I'm afraid people will hate higher taxes even more than they hate inflation.

      The result is the same: you get poorer, but if inflation can be demagogued as a fault of mythical "profiteers", and a few idiots might believe that, taxation definitely is the government's doing.

    17. 3:43,
      It's like building a wall to keep out illegals. I'm afraid people will hate the cost of eating even more than they hate immigrants.

      Taxing the mythical "middle-class who earn $250,000/ year" may make them poorer, but that's what they get for complaining about inflation.

    18. Taxing those who earn $250,000/ year would not affect inflation. You'll have to take money from those who actually buy food. So that they can't buy it anymore. Then prices might drop.

    19. As for building the beautiful wall, it doesn't affect seasonal agricultural visas.

    20. 4:32,
      Do you believe taxing money out of the economy won't reduce inflation?
      If so, the inflation "problem" is not being caused by too much money in the economy
      So, what do you believe it's caused by, "mythical" profiteers?

    21. Build the beautiful wall at the Mason-Dixon Line!

    22. Per 4:32, those who earn more than $250K/ annually don't eat food. They must be those "corporation people" I've heard about. In which case, we don't need to tax them more, we just rescind the HUGE tax break Trump gave them in 2017.

    23. They eat food. But taxing them won't do anything to reduce inflation. They won't buy less, they'll save less.

      As for the 2017 tax bill, it actually raised taxes on most of them, see the SALT deduction cap.

    24. "Both nationally and in affluent states, such as in the Northeast, the 2017 tax law delivered the largest average tax cut — measured as a percentage of their pre-tax income — to those in the 95th to 99th percentile, according to ITEP. Their tax cut from the 2017 law amounts to 3.5 percent of their pre-tax income, on average. No other less-affluent income group received a tax cut of more than 2 percent of their pre-tax income, while people in the top 1 percent received a 2.7 percent tax cut....

      Policymakers and many tax filers affected by the cap on the SALT deduction may mistakenly assume that affected filers fared poorly under the 2017 law. But the SALT cap was only one component of a law with many interrelated and often offsetting provisions. Namely, two key provisions of the law gave this group of already high-income people large tax cuts, leading to large net tax cuts, even after taking account of the SALT cap.

      First, the law lowered income tax rates across many of the seven tax brackets. Second, and more importantly, the law substantially scaled back the individual alternative minimum tax (AMT), which is a parallel tax system designed to ensure that higher-income people who take large deductions pay at least a minimum level of tax.

      The AMT changes particularly favored the 95th to 99th percentile of households, effectively eliminating the AMT for them. The AMT changes affected households in the top 1 percent much less, in part because many of those households receive a large share of their incomes from capital gains and dividends, which face the same low tax rates under the AMT as in the underlying income tax. But for many households in the 95th to 99th percentile, the AMT tax cut plus the impact of the cuts in income tax rates were far larger than any impact of the SALT cap."

    25. I can't believe all those "economically anxious" Trump voters ---who aren't at all just a shit-pile of bigots (hat tip mainstream media)--let Trump get away with that.

    26. 4:46 "So, what do you believe it's caused by, "mythical" profiteers?" I know it is hard to think back so far, but there was this tremendously disruptive Global Crisis four years back that collapsed the world economy and trading systems that sparked global inflation. Geeze, what could it have been? Also too, the USA under Biden recovered from whatever this thing was far quicker than peer nations, and has has a lot less inflation, even with 50% of inflation attributed to price gouging - taking advantage of that thing that happened. Whatever could it have been.


  3. "One deals with the death O.J. Simpson"

    He was oppressed. And now, alas, it's too late for him to receive reparations. R.I.P. O.J.

    "NPR in Turmoil After It Is Accused of Liberal Bias"

    NPR has liberal bias!? Oh noes! Say it ain't so! Who woulda thunk? I'm shocked.

    1. Did O.J. Simpson really die, or is that, too, a lie like the one about NPR having liberal bias?

    2. You've been juiced!

    3. Reality has a liberal bias.

  4. Somerby is so fashion-averse that I picture him sitting around in his bathrobe all day (like Balzac did), quill ink staining his fingertips while he tries in vain to think of something new to say about Ancient Troy.

    1. If the race comes down to the candidate's wife's fashion sense Trump will win.

    2. I especially liked it when Melania did those nude photos years ago. That must have piqued Trump’s interest too.

    3. It is obvious that Jill loves Biden and they have a healthy relationship of mutual respect and attraction. It does not really matter, but Jill possesses natural beauty and charisma.

      This is in stark contrast to the Trumps, where it is clear Melania is disgusted by Trump, in part because he has had various affairs including sleeping with a porn star (porn stars are notorious for suffering from a bevy of STIs). Melania is a strange looking person, who appears to have had various plastic surgeries, to the point where she now resembles those depictions of aliens from the 1950s. She can hardly speak English (and plagiarizes when she is forced to speak) and as far as fashion goes, is infamous for wearing an outfit exclaiming her bizarre indifference to other people suffering - this is borne from the misery of being a mail order bride and essentially a slave to Trump, who clearly she is repulsed by.

      Dream on, DIC.

    4. And what if she can't speak English? This isn't England.

    5. Melania claims to speak several languages, but there is no demonstration of this, and her poor English speaking ability suggests she does not really speak "several languages".

      Learning a language is not a notable accomplishment, it is common among people outside of America to speak multiple languages since they interact with a variety of people from other countries.

      Jill has degrees in English and a doctorate in Education and has spent her career helping those in need.

      Melania's skills are in shopping, and negotiating prenups.

      There is no comparison, based on wives, Biden comes out way ahead.

    6. When Melania was young she was a beautiful nude model. Jill never was.

    7. This should be a requirement for every First Lady: nude photographs when she was young and beautiful.

    8. If the race comes down to which candidate smells more like a soiled diaper, Trump will win in a landslide.

    9. DIC - Jill never chain migrated her parents over to the USA. Immigrant scum needs to get out of here. At least her mom died, one two nasty immigrants to go in that family.

  5. With OJ's circus of a defense, the nation never had the chance to explore the damage done by domestic violence, even among the rich and famous. Nicole Simpson had the right to leave her husband and the right to associate with whoever she wanted afterward. She died because OJ considered her his property, his right to control. Then he used his fame and money to escape consequences, sort of like a certain Mr. Trump has been doing.

    1. David in Cal must be torn about O.J., like he is about abortion.
      On the one hand, O.J. felt women were property. On the other hand, O.J. was black.

  6. It it matters who endorses a presidential candidate (or who doesn't, such as top Republicans who are refusing to endorse Trump), then it matters whose wife is willing to campaign for a candidate. Jill biden is willing to wear fancy dresses when she normally would avoid doing so, just to support her husband. That is an important endorsement.

    On the other hand, Melania cannot be bothered to show up at Trump's campaign appearances. When she finally did, no doubt coerced to make that appearance (along with a sappy video Trump's team put together to show that they are still married), she couldn't be bothered to smile. There were references to photos as "hostage videos" because of her grim demeanor. That isn't what anyone would call support, and it matters because this is the person who presumably knows Trump best, refusing her enthusiasm in public.

    The difference is so obvious that Somerby has to pretend that dresses don't matter while spending endless paragraphs on trivia found in the Iliad. It is time for people to bring out their "Free Melania" protest signs again.

    But if I were her, I would be ashamed of my husband's position on abortion too. I wouldn't want to appear in public while his affair with a playboy pinup and a porn star was being rehashed in the context of election fraud. I wouldn't want to be reminded of what my husband was doing while I was at home nursing a newborn baby boy. It is worse for Melania than for Jill Biden, because Melania's husband is a louse and Jill Biden's is an exemplary president with actual accomplishments to tout, beyond fomenting an insurrection. Melania perhaps wonders what she ever did to deserve such punsihment, but she already knows -- she came to the US as an immigrant and jumped the line.

  7. "Has something gone wrong at NPR? Because we rarely follow its work, we have no way of knowing." Bob rarely follows its work and therefore has no way of knowing, and yet he irresponsibly encourages distrust in NPR by repeating various unproven and, for the most part, irrelevant claims (it doesn't matter if a news org's staff is made up entirely of Democrats -- what matters is the quality of their journalism). He does so at a time when responsible, mainstream journalism (like that at NPR) is under assault and needed more than ever. He does something similar with another respectable, reality-based news org -- PBS. He's going to cherry pick a SINGLE PBS news report and go on and on about its shortcomings, giving fuel to the people who want to tear down mainstream journalism (including Trump and his supporters). Here are two more responsible approaches: 1) tune in to a given news org's main coverage (say, Morning Edition on NPR) for at least a few weeks, and try to get a feel for the overall quality of its coverage, or 2) try to find well done studies on the news org's coverage. That would require too much work, presumably.

    1. Bob's laziness is (yet) another clue that Bob might actually be a Right-winger, in (a poor) disguise.

  8. "As usual, the men were fighting over which of two warring civilizations would maintain rights to Helen, radiance of women—the most beautiful woman in the world. Next week, we vastly more enlightened moderns start our own clown-car courtroom fight over access to our own failing nation's number-one, best-known "porn star!"

    If we all knew more about Troy and its relations with nearby Greeks, we might know what the war was really about -- shipping tensions, competition over territory, access to scarce resources such as salt or fish. It wasn't about access to Helen. She most likely didn't exist historically, and if she did, no one got excited about what happened to slaves or women in those times.

    Similarly, Somerby pretends that anyone cares about Trump's affair with Stormy Daniels. He says next week's trial is about access to her, when it has nothing to do with that. It has to do with Trump's misuse of campaign funds to hide his affair from his wife and the public, just after the Access Hollywood tape came out (portraying Trump as what he was, a groper and rapist). Trump again falsified business records to hide a payoff to Stormy Daniels and a Catch-and-Kill operation at the National Enquirer used to hide an ongoing affair with a playboy model.

    But it isn't the sex at the heart of that trial. It is his dishonesty and lawbreaking as he tried to improve his campaign chances by hiding his behavior. This trial has nothing to do with Stormy Daniels and everything to do with Trump believing he could bend the rules and spend campaign funds on a cover-up of his behavior. Michael Cohen went to jail after pleading guilty to his part in Trump's scheme. Now it is Trump's turn to be held accountable.

    Equating Stormy Daniels with Helen of Troy no doubt amuses Somerby in his misogynistic haze of hostility toward women in general. It is Somerby's way of calling both women whores, although neither did anything wrong in the same sense as Trump did illegal things to cover up his behavior. Somerby does the rest of us a disservice too when he pretends we only care about this court case because of the sex, when most of us liberals care most about the fact that no one should be above the law. This is only the first of four criminal trials of Trump, and it is the only one that has anything to do with Trump's sex life.

    I want to see Trump convicted of the very obvious things he did that have undermined our democracy. I care about my country. Trump has no right to damage it in furtherance of his self-interest, whether sex or wealth or power or narcissistic public exposure. Somerby never acknowledges that when he talks about Helen of Troy or Stormy Daniels or fails to mention the women who have been important in politics (such as Nikki Haley, who is still drawing votes despite being off the ballot, or Cassidy Hutchinson who had the guts to testify against Trump re his actions on 1/6).

    Whatever was going on in Troy, blaming Helen doesn't seem right, any more than blaming Stormy has been right in modern times. But that doesn't stop Somerby from scapegoating women instead of blaming Trump for his own stupidity.

    1. Michael Cohen went to jail and he had no access to Stormy Daniels whatsoever, no sex with anyone. The trial is about the coverup, just like Watergate was.

    2. Spot on: "it isn't the sex at the heart of that trial. It is his dishonesty and lawbreaking as he tried to improve his campaign chances by hiding his behavior. This trial has nothing to do with Stormy Daniels and everything to do with Trump believing he could bend the rules and spend campaign funds on a cover-up of his behavior. Michael Cohen went to jail after pleading guilty to his part in Trump's scheme. Now it is Trump's turn to be held accountable. . . Somerby does the rest of us a disservice too when he pretends we only care about this court case because of the sex, when most of us liberals care most about the fact that no one should be above the law [AMEN!!]. This is only the first of four criminal trials of Trump, and it is the only one that has anything to do with Trump's sex life.

      I want to see Trump convicted of the very obvious things he did that have undermined our democracy. I care about my country. Trump has no right to damage it in furtherance of his self-interest, whether sex or wealth or power or narcissistic public exposure."

      Amazing. A fact-based, well-argued, and substantive comment right here at the Howler. Better than Bob's original post.

  9. Somerby wants you to think that the Trump case is about him having an affair with a porn star, but this is false.

    Somerby also wants you to think there is no contextual difference between coercing a porn star to fuck your disgusting undersized dick, and a longer term affair that may involve emotions.

    Interestingly, Somerby ignores that the case involves both circumstances, but the media has not and offers a more honest description than Somerby's thumb-on-the-scale narrative.

    Apparently Somerby gets his insights from various fictional stories, poems, and songs, which largely explains why his insights are so poor.

  10. What does the Trojan War have to do with attacks on NPR and PBS or Trump's criminal trial which starts on Monday? Or a cheesy Robert Frost poem that Somerby again fails to attribute to him? Or Gutfeld?

    Shouldn't paragraphs in an essay have some relation to each other or to a central theme? And no, stream of consciousness is NOT a theme.

    1. I swear Somerby must be channeling his inner Rachel Maddow in his ability to write so much without really saying anything. lol

    2. Not the Trojan War itself but the way the "The Iliad" portrays the Trojan War is used to draw analogies between ancient understandings of human behavior—especially as it pertains to conflict—and current journalistic practices. For example, Calchas the seer, who interprets the will of the gods by watching the flight of birds, is likened to modern journalists and critics who attempt to interpret and forecast political and social realities.

      The metaphor suggests that while the platforms and specifics may change (from epic poetry to digital news), the fundamental human behaviors and societal challenges remain consistent.

    3. 12:39: “ The metaphor suggests that while the platforms and specifics may change (from epic poetry to digital news), the fundamental human behaviors and societal challenges remain consistent.”

      Ok. But what is the specific relevance of the “Iliad”. If the lesson is that human behavior is consistent, then surely any literary work could apply.

    4. Except it is Somerby who is demonstrating a misunderstanding of human nature, drawing his conclusions from fictional stories and such, instead of from academia, research, and science.

    5. 12:46, 12:53: I don't think he wrote the metaphor with idiots in mind.

    6. 1:14: Ah, so you can’t answer. Thanks for acknowledging that.

    7. 1:15 PM, your ignorance is moronic.

    8. oh yeah? well your stupidity is dumb. so there, doody head

    9. I know you are, and so am I.

  11. Nijole Sadunaite has died.

  12. It is funny the pretzel folks like Somerby twist themselves in to hype their hero Trump and attack Biden who they see as not just their enemy but as evil; they will complain that Biden did too much on the border issue, and also complain that he is ignoring the issue. Funny in a way, but sad too.

    For these folks, there is no integrity, their views are only intended to soothe their emotions.

  13. Biden has been President for over 3 years. The Southern border has been wide open for most of that time. Only now, with the election looming, he's looking to do something about the problem.

  14. According to 11:55 AM he still isn't doing anything. He's asking for something he calls "the border bill", as if the existing laws, making unauthorized border crossing a criminal offense, aren't enough. Why not just build the beautiful wall and be done with it?

  15. A painting of Helen has been found in Pompeii:

    1. that's the face that launched a thousand ships? i mean, she a'ight. but i'm not starting any wars over her


  16. Democrats are criminally prosecuting people for consensual sex now. Unless it's buggery, of course.

  17. Here's a report on Melania:

    1. better than Helen of Troy, but i'm still not going to war over her

    2. And for Jill?

    3. nah. i'm a lover not a fighter

    4. Jill would understand. and Troy was a cool place to live anyway

    5. That's treason. Fighting for Jill our civic duty.

  18. Biden’s astonishing silence is all the more astonishing in that he isn’t silent.

  19. DIC, early in Biden's presidency, people like you were complaining that he was doing too much on the border, reversing Trump's inhumane policies.

    The border has not been "wide open", you have been conned about the border, just like every election cycle, Republicans con their rubes with nonsense about the border, and then ignore the issue at all other times.

    The claim you are making, without evidence, of Biden engaging in political expediency, actually applies to Trump, who openly stopped border legislation proposed by Republicans because it would further diminish his chance of getting elected.

    Furthermore, under your moronic logic, there would never be a time to accomplish anything, as you can always apply a false motive to actions.

  20. Biden’s “astonishing” inaction’ lol:

    “Biden at the Three-Year Mark: The Most Active Immigration Presidency Yet Is Mired in Border Crisis Narrative”

  21. Yes, that website does sound stupid.

  22. OJ Simpson never found the real killer.

    1. He did. The real killers were Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. But he was silenced by the Republicans before he could share his discovery.

  23. Replies
    1. Lol. Nice one.

    2. Cecelia, I didn’t notice anything special today.

  24. As usual, Trump supporters dismiss inconvenient facts

  25. Greece is in Europe. Troy was in Asia.

    1. The continent is Eurasia. Arbitrarily dividing it into "Europe" and "Asia" is white supremacism.

    2. Agamemnon is supreme.

    3. i think it's Asian supremacism

  26. About the guy who slaughtered the aid workers:

  27. Bob really sticks it to both Drum AND his readers in todays wildly dishonest
    post (we won’t call Bob a liar, we don’t
    really need to.)
    Actually there IS quite a GOOD way
    to determine if Berliner is telling the
    truth from readying Drum’s post.
    In Drum’s post (which Bob fails to
    link to) he sites three rather obvious
    falsified points Berliner makes. No,
    not Kevin Drum readers in the comment
    section, but DRUM himself. Rather than
    note or answer Drium’s argument,
    Somerby ignores this and slips back
    into irrelevant nonsense from The
    Iliad and Gone With the Wind.
    Bob USED to call out this kind of
    bullshit from other writers and now
    he does it himself!!

  28. Quaker in a BasementApril 12, 2024 at 4:15 PM

    I have long been puzzled by complaints about NPR's supposed liberal bias. Just take a look at the daily rundowns for their two major news presentations, Morning Edition and All Things Considered and the News tab on the NPR website. Aside from choosing to air stories about events outside the U.S., it's difficult so see any difference between NPR's editorial judgment and that of any other major news outlet.

    Today on
    Artificial wombs as a bridge to health for premature babies
    Biden warns Iran not to attack Israel
    The price of "forever stamps" will rise
    How Iran and Israel became enemies
    Middle East crisis explained
    Famous Ethiopian singer dies
    Palestinians skip Eid celebrations to mourn Gaza
    OJ Simpson's complicated legacy
    Three men rescued from island by spelling Help with palm leaves
    Boeing whistleblower faces retaliation
    Retrospective of Biden and Sanders in 2020 campaign
    US counterintelligence head lists threats
    Lung cancer patient survives thanks to new treatments
    Ford expands a vehicle recall
    Vietnman sentences tycoon to death for fraud

    Today on Morning Edition:
    OJ Simpson retrospective
    A new film that portrays a modern day Civil War
    Palestinians ask why deaths of WCK workers get more attention than deaths of others
    Endangered sea turtles
    Anniversary of R.E.M. album release
    Can old law bring down food prices?
    Bridge collapse shows risks for construction workers
    Scandal in trivia contest in D.C.
    Ohtani's interpreter
    New regulations on internet pricing
    Alabama librarians celebrate
    Storycorps segment
    Cultural legacy of OJ Simpson
    Lung cancer survivor and new treatments
    Interstellar movie gets 2nd theatrical release
    Coaching move in NCAA men's basketball
    AZ AG won't enforce abortion ban
    Ukraine mobilization orders
    Breaking into the art world

    I suppose some could point to the stories that report the Gaza conflict from the perspective of, well, Gazans as "liberal." But what else?

    1. Often the case of the "liberal media" is how many reporters vote Democratic. (How the owners vote
      is seldom addressed). Bob buys this now, but it's
      a faulty premise, what does it have to do with the '
      CONTENT of what is published or covered?
      Often the liberal outlets seem to act defensively
      as if having a staff of college graduates makes them
      automaticly suspect.

    2. Newsrooms larded with the educated.

    3. Just read this on X. He does a very thorough job of debunking Berliner. I won't post it all, just a small sample where he asks a good question that no one else in the media seems to be curious about.

      Aaron Fritschner

      Finally read the Uri Berliner piece on NPR biasand I'm baffled by how little the enormous media controversy it spawned has resulted in scrutiny of its claims for factual accuracy. There are significant problems with the piece including obvious, verifiable falsehoods.

      To recap, the premise is "I'm a lib who worked at NPR for 25 years and it's too lib now." The author's argument begins with deeply flawed polling analysis (to which I will return) and then proof points based on NPR's coverage of three Trump-era stories, all of which he gets wrong.

      Having some familiarity with voter data I wondered, how did he come by this information? It's true that he could have paid money to access the DC voter file and individually search out his colleagues' party registration one by one. That seems, at best, highly problematic. However

      Many people who work in DC live in Maryland or Virginia. and he doesn't mention either. MD voter file data is expensive, but if he was really determined to politistalk all of his colleagues he could have paid the money.

      Virginia, however, does not have party registration at all.

      A quarter of DC voters do not have registered party affiliation, even though the D primary is their biggest say in local govt. If he did this survey at all, which I confess I doubt, did he simply forget to include non-party-affiliated? Did he exclude them?

      Berliner has been on a whirlwind media tour disparaging NPR and his coworkers' ethics since the story ran, and if that continues I hope at some point someone will ask him how exactly he went about determining the party registration of each individual person he works with in DC.

    4. @Anon 4:59 Maybe he stood in the middle of the newsroom and hollered, "Hey! Any Republicans in here?"

    5. QiB, that doesn't sound likely. The claim made by Berliner was as follows:

      "I looked at voter registration for our newsroom. In D.C., where NPR is headquartered and many of us live, I found 87 registered Democrats working in editorial positions and zero Republicans. None."

    6. 4:59 So we feel that the NPR editor got it wrong? Do we feel that a statistically significant percentage of the employees that work in DC and live in Maryland or Virginia are Republicans? That NPR's journalism doesn't have a lack of diversity that is damaging to their business model and credibility?

    7. Quaker - the big Catherine Herridge scandal is one such news story

    8. Berliner made a claim. "I looked at voter registration for our newsroom."

      The question presented now is, how did she do that.

      I don't listen to NPR very much anymore because they bend over backwards trying to bothsides everything.

      The point of the post by Fritschner was that Berliner was full of shit, and Fritschner backs it up with facts. (see below for one example)

      The next "miscue" he says was not reporting on the NY Post Hunter Biden laptop story in October 2020. He says "NPR turned a blind eye" and "didn't make the hard choice of transparency." This isn't true. NPR covered the story at the time and explained why they were being cautious:

      Berliner says "the essential facts of the Post’s reporting were confirmed and the emails verified independently about a year and a half later" with a link to a Washington Post story. But that story says the opposite. In fact it supports NPR's 2020 decision

    9. The post by Fritschner was that Berliner was full of shit because "many people who work in DC live in Maryland or Virginia and he doesn't mention either"? Therefore these employees from Maryland and Virginia are Republicans? They are not white Democrats? What is this guy trying to say?

    10. Quaker -- Senator Cotton explaining why it's wrong to aid the Palestinians in Gaza before the war is over.

    11. The post by Fritschner was that Berliner was full of shit because Berliner says "the essential facts of the Post’s reporting were confirmed and the emails verified independently about a year and a half later" with a link to a Washington Post story that said of the contents of the laptop "Thousands of emails ...are authentic communications that can be verified"?

      But Fritschner says the report says the opposite???? He didn't say why he thinks that. Seems kinda thin.

    12. So we're just gonna skip right over the question of how Berliner "looked at voter registration for our newsroom."? Not interested, huh?

      I provided the link to the Wash Post article in question, if you care to read it and decide for yourself who is lying, Fritschner or Berliner.

    13. Quaker --
      "Man on terror watchlist was released into the U.S. after crossing southern border, officials say"

    14. Quaker -- "RFK Jr says gaps in southern border ‘should have been closed’ over three years ago"

    15. Quaker - "Jaw-dropping number of migrants arrive in San Diego in a single week as officials reveal 7,000 illegally crossed - as photos show them sleeping in airport bathroom"

    16. Quaker

      "EXCLUSIVE State Department STILL didn't have a full Afghanistan evacuation plan when the Taliban stormed Kabul... days before the suicide blast: Devastating new details reveal the chaos in the bungled operation
      The House Foreign Affairs Committee is investigating the Afghan withdrawal
      13 US service members died and hundreds of Americans were left behind in 2021
      Testimony by two officials reveals how speed of Taliban advance surprised them"


    17. Jay Rosen, Professor of Journalism at NYU, says,

      "If you're a news organization trying to serve everyone, facing a political movement powered in large part by its attacks on the media, you can't defend yourself by insisting your people are fair, your routines sound. You must try to show everyone how this movement is misguided."

      I suspect NPR is populated by persons who studied journalism seriously, and are trying to do their job by following sound journalistic standards. The problem is, magats would like them to give equal time to standards pioneered by the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Sean Hannity of Fox NOOZ, last seen getting slapped with a 3/4 billion dollar defamation judgement.

    18. 7:00 The Wash Post article in question says thousands of emails on the laptop are authentic communications and can be verified which was the claim from the NPR editor. How does it say the opposite?

      "Berliner made a claim. "I looked at voter registration for our newsroom." The question presented now is, how did she do that." She did that by checking the record of people who lived in D.C.

      You think Berliner is full of shit and that NPR is not skewed to fit a progressive narrative with these stories?

      Do you think that is true? Or do you want and need it to be true because of your religious beliefs in the DNC Orthodoxy?

    19. by checking the record of people who lived in D.C

      What record, asshole? It's a simple question that nobody has bothered to ask Berliner.

      The Wash Post article said the following:

      The vast majority of the data — and most of the nearly 129,000 emails it contained — could not be verified by either of the two security experts who reviewed the data for The Post. Neither found clear evidence of tampering in their examinations, but some of the records that might have helped verify contents were not available for analysis, they said. The Post was able in some instances to find documents from other sources that matched content on the laptop that the experts were not able to assess.

      Among the reasons for the inconclusive findings was sloppy handling of the data, which damaged some records. The experts found the data had been repeatedly accessed and copied by people other than Hunter Biden over nearly three years. The MacBook itself is now in the hands of the FBI, which is investigating whether Hunter Biden properly reported income from business dealings.

      Most of the data obtained by The Post lacks cryptographic features that would help experts make a reliable determination of authenticity, especially in a case where the original computer and its hard drive are not available for forensic examination. Other factors, such as emails that were only partially downloaded, also stymied the security experts’ efforts to verify content.

      You want to be an a magat asshole all your life, be my guest.

    20. Here is another example of Berliner's bullshit:

      The first, he says, is "Russiagate." They interviewed Schiff 25 times he says, and Schiff alluded "to purported evidence of collusion" "during many of those conversations." I checked these interviews- Schiff discussed "evidence" of "collusion" once, referring to "public evidence"

      So who is fucking lying, Berliner or Fritschner? Easy thing to check.

    21. You feel Berliner is full of shit and that NPR did not report those stories skewed to fit a progressive narrative. I see. Thank you.

    22. "The first, he says, is "Russiagate." They interviewed Schiff 25 times he says, and Schiff alluded "to purported evidence of collusion" "during many of those conversations." I checked these interviews- Schiff discussed "evidence" of "collusion" once, referring to "public evidence"

      So who is fucking lying, Berliner or Fritschner? "

      Well, obviously Schiff is who is fucking lying.

    23. Schiff wasn't lying. There is evidence of collusion. It's just not definitive (or maybe it is, depending on how loosely "collusion" gets defined). The most obvious example is Manafort's sharing internal campaign polling data about battleground states with a Russian spy.

    24. David in Cal,
      I'd love to fund the State and Defense departments, but people who want a rapist to be our next President pretended to care about the deficit.
      On the bright side, Central and South American refugees are entering the USA because "All Lives Matter".

    25. Hi Mike - Truth be told, Manafort didn't share internal campaign polling data about battleground states. The employee he shared it with was an expert on polling and also an important source for the US State Department that met with Secretary of State Kerry's chief of staff in DC during the 2016 election. No one has shown any evidence that he is a spy. Although I admit it sounds really scary.

    26. You idiots race right to the bottom every time.

      NPR Guy: We didn't properly cover when the Mueller report found no credible evidence of collusion.

      DNC Bots: But Manafort shared battleground state data with a Russian spy. And this is really important because even though I don't really know if it was battleground state data and I don't really know if was a Russian spy or what Russia may have done with this data, it's proof of collusion!!! Mueller just missed it!

    27. You mean Donald J Chickenshit didn't have to criminally obstruct the Mueller investigation and didn't have to chicken out of testifying under oath and didn't have to tamper with witnesses and issue pardons to his co-conspirators because he was innocent all along. Damn, you magats sure are fucking dumb bastards,

    28. I question the productivity of Soros/DNC bot farms.
      These bots are so dumb that obviously they will never convince anyone of anything.
      They probably will radicalize DNC opponents somewhat, and increase their turnout in elections.
      The only "positive" effect (from the Soros/DNC point of view) is hindering communications between humans. But surely there are many moderated sites? So, what the use of these bots?

    29. David in Cali - you're referring to the Trump/Pompeo surrender negotiated with the Taliban and then dumped on Biden with no support from the former admin to implement. Enough!!!

    30. Forgot to add DIC, you had enough with Bibi's open border letting Hamas rape, torture, kidnap, and kill his citizens?

  29. It's been over 11 years since Sandy Hook, and it's still too soon to discuss (i.e. politicize) our gun problem.
    What's the rush to politicize our southern border? It's only been 3 years.

  30. Quaker -- I said I wouldn't post any more stories that NPR didn't cover, but this one is really two stories in one. The shooting of a black man in Chicago, that was initiated by his shooting at the police. And, the media's misleading coverage of the story, blaming the police instead of the shooter.
    "This is how WaPo covered a story about a man who opened fire on police during a traffic stop."

  31. After Berliner wrote the article, it's easy to comment that he's wrong. And, it's easy to comment that he understated the problem. IMO it's more useful to accept Berliner's opinion and think about what to do about it. What should NPR do about it? What should conservatives so about it?

    My guess is that NPR believes their liberal bias, so they won't do anything to change. Just like the rest of us, they don't think they're biased; they just think they're right.

    And, I suspect that NPR is structured so that conservatives can't do anything ,to make it more centrist, even if Satan wins the election.

    1. Yes, I don’t think we should bother finding out if people are right. I am not a crank.

    2. Centrist isn’t the same as being right.

    3. Its neither right nor left.

    4. I have a couple of centrist positions.
      1) Abortion for anyone who wants one.
      2) De-fund the police.

      I can defend these positions from extremists on both sides.

    5. Anonymouse 7:39pm, I’ll bite. Go ahead and defend both positions from leftist extremists.

    6. Cecelia is correct. There are no extremists on the Left.

    7. "leftist extremists"
      Who are you, the New York Times?

    8. I’m replying to the post from the anonymouse flying monkey 7:39am in which he boasts of his ability to defend abortion from extremists on “both sides”.

      Have at it, anonymouse flying monkey 7:39am. Start with the left.

    9. 10:36,
      Which Left. The boogie-man Left the Right-wing NYTimes writes about, or the real one?

    10. Anonymouse 11:04am, why are you addressing that comment to me? It was the anonymouse flying monkey’s formulation of “extremists on both sides”.

    11. My bad for not continuing to ignore you.

    12. Anonymouse 11:38am, well, you are still free to challenge anonymouse flying monkey with your questions.

    13. I’m not a monkey, and I don’t fly.

    14. Anonymouse flying monkey, you’re all that and a poo-flinger.

    15. I don’t fling poo.

    16. Anonymous 7:38 on point (2) - only Republicans are supporting legislation to defund the FBI and the DOJ.

  32. Robert MacNeil has died.

  33. Facts are known to have a liberal bias.

  34. Eleanor Coppola has died.