It’s cold and snowy outside. The roads are slippery, bumpy, and treacherous to drive on. This is an environment that is way too hazardous to risk taking the HPM to work. Besides, VW bus heaters suck. So, when it’s below freezing outside, I take my loveable green Redneck Farm Truck to work. The one thing that the RFT has missing is a radio, so when I drive it to work I have a little MP3 Player that also plays FM radio. I am not much into MP3s and I am simply too lazy to spend any time recording music from a CD, so I listen to the FM radio. The tuner on this little thing only gets three stations on the whole dial. It only receives NPR, a Spanish language radio station, and a country music station. So, I have been listening to NPR for the last few months. I generally have time to listen to ‘Morning Edition’ on the way to work and ‘All Things Considered’ on the way home.
I have nothing against NPR and I am told that there is no political agenda or bias in their reporting; however, I feel a distinct tug to the left. I can’t put my finger on just why, there are no specific instances of bias. That said, the more I listen, the more I feel disconnected and a little suspicious. At first I thought that it’s because the left ward tug, is sometimes counter to my own libertarian leanings. I looked up NPR on the internet to find out more information and see if there are any valid reports of left leaning bias.
Can open, worms everywhere! It seems that this is quite the important issue to a lot of people.
There are some arguments posted from people who believe that a left leaning bias is obvious, then some scathing retorts from people who claim NPR is completely neutral and that any bias is a conservative hyped myth. One site describes a right leaning argument. NPR itself seems not to be sure about its self either. I found this quote quite telling: “According to a Washington Post study NPR is more liberal than the average U.S. voter and more conservative than the average American Democrat.” What this says about the average voter or the average Democrat is up to the reader to figure out.
Whether NPR leans left or right I have to admit that it is one clean operation. I really enjoy the fact that I don’t have to cringe during commercial breaks or hear a teaser for weather or news that I won’t have time to wait for. I also really enjoy reports without back ground music. I also like the unhurried pace. The commentators don’t rush through their dialog like a drug commercial legal disclaimer, they read at a conversational pace.
That said, I still feel disconnected and a bit apprehensive while listening to NPR. There is something about the choice of content and the tone of the reporting that I find disquieting. I think that I may have mistaken left leaning with something else, maybe south leaning is a better description. Every story, it seems, is about how something or another is getting worse. Nowhere is there a story about anything positive, unless it is inconsequential. Even when there is a human interest story, they somehow feel it is necessary to bring up a dark cloud on the horizon. Maybe this is being done to “round out” the story just to make sure all points are represented. However, it gets on my nerves. After a while, I can almost predict how a story will unfold.
If there was a story about a cat rescue from a tree, here is how I predict that NPR would cover the story. “In Pierce Colorado yesterday a cat was rescued from a tree by the Ault fire department. An official reported that, due to a lack of projected growth in the housing market, they may not be able to afford to rescue cats in the future. A dog that was interviewed on the scene claims un-fair treatment, as he depends upon treed cats for exercise and a much needed source of nutrition. Local endangered birds are also at risk due to the behavior of such cats. An intergovernmental panel has been convened to look into the issue and how global warming may affect the growth of trees which provide perches for endangered birds….”
So, after a few months of exposure to this kind of reporting, I decided to change the channel. I had to choose between a Spanish language station and a country music station. Due only to the lack of being bilingual, I decided to give country music a try.
There seem to be three themes to country music. This includes moaning about cheating women, celebrating work ethic and family values, and having a good time country style. I think that the lyrics for a country song can be written simply by re-arranging the following words. Truck, country, boots, beer, honky, tonk, road, grain, barn, farm, tractor, ribs, beef, beans, corn, hat, cowboy, cowgirl, son, god, please, thank you, and momma. This repetition of theme gets old real soon.
This Country radio station also has a morning news segment. And, like NPR, they are predictable in their presentation- only backwards. It’s kind of bizarro world where information and stories are normally upbeat. I hear official reports that unemployment is on the rise; however that’s a seasonal norm. I hear that the snow pack is above normal, air quality is getting better, cattle futures are going up, water is cleaner, and there is a BBQ at Bubbas ranch on Tuesday. Every news report, even ones that are tragic have an upbeat message behind them.
If there was a story about a cat rescue from a tree, here is how I predict that the country music station would cover the story. “In Pierce Colorado yesterday a cat was rescued from a tree by the Ault fire department. The home owner brought out cookies and lemonade to the firemen who are all volunteers. The fire chief just lost a son in the war against radical Islamic terrorists and asks the homeowner to name her kittens after his son and his company. His son wanted to be a NASCAR driver but chose to serve his country first, his mom said that she was so proud and prayed for him every day…..”
When the news is over, there are loud, obnoxious commercials for trucks and sporting equipment. Then songs about the loyalty of friends, betrayal of hot women, drinking with some buddies, and being lonely on the range. After a while I start to think that someone is pulling my leg. How can this be? If America is so wonderful how come everyone doesn’t want to come here? You would think that there would be people coming across the border by the millions, risking jail and harassment, just to drink and BBQ with Bubba. I learned a long while back that when something seems too good to be true it usually isn’t.
So I am going back to (reality) and listen to NPR. All this good news can’t be good for you. Too much sugar ain’t good for the system- I need more onions and salt get my blood flowing. Maybe when I reach a level of cynicism, self loathing and guilt I will turn back to Country radio for a time. I don’t think it’s good for the system to have a steady diet of just one or the other.
I find this to be an interesting parallel to the political race we are currently experiencing. (Use your imagination) I guess that’s one reason I don’t vote for either party; and why I will be soon installing a CD player in my green Redneck Farm Truck.