PBS and NPR Offer Journalism By Liberals for Liberals

Tim Graham,

The enormous coronavirus stimulus package was festooned with goodies for key Democratic constituency groups including $75 million in “emergency” funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which offers grants to PBS and NPR stations. That’s on top of the half-billion Congress already authorized for the year.

They call it “public” broadcasting, but it is niche broadcasting by liberals for liberals. Even during this self-isolation, PBS aired a documentary slashing the National Rifle Association, and NPR celebrated the 12th anniversary of then-Sen. Barack Obama’s speech about toxic Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

The PBS heroine of the moment is White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, who inspired the left to make the hashtag “#WeLoveYamiche,” which has gone viral.

Yamiche has been squabbling with President Donald Trump. She scolded someone at the White House for having used the term “kung flu” — so racist! — and lectured Trump about his questioning Democratic governors’ large requests for medical supplies. In the current environment, you can never downplay the doom, especially when it’s in opposition to the golden-tongued Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple spoke for many liberal journalists when he gushed, “As Alcindor stands and rams through her questions, she is becoming the symbol of American journalism: strong, unflappable and polite.”

But Yamiche is not always unflappable. Last August, at a press conference at the G7 summit in France, she grew emotional with Trump when he spoke about Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. She said: “Why do you keep using the misleading statement that Russia outsmarted President Obama … Why keep repeating what some people would see as a clear lie?” Trump clearly disagreed: Russia invaded and took Crimea, and Obama rolled over.

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Then Yamiche went on “PBS NewsHour” and complained about Trump, saying, “He also repeated his incorrect claim that Russia was kicked out of the group because Russia outsmarted former President Barack Obama.” In the land of PBS, no one should ever be allowed to say Obama was outsmarted. It’s like saying LeBron James was outplayed or Beyonce was out-sung.

At the time, former White House secretary to President George W. Bush Ari Fleischer insisted, “The fact that neither she, nor apparently the rest of the White House press corps, thought her question was out of line, and an example of bias, shows how deep the bias runs.”

The major flaw in Wemple’s gush is that PBS and NPR are not consistently strong in “speaking truth to power.” With Democrats, they speak valentines to power.

On June 1, 2016, PBS held a town hall meeting with Obama in Elkhart, Indiana. The late PBS anchor Gwen Ifill — one of Yamiche’s heroes — began by noting that the city’s unemployment rate had dropped from 19.6% in 2009 to 4%. “But this White House isn’t getting any credit for that turnaround,” she said. “So what gives?”

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Five days later, NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith spoke to Hillary Clinton after she won her party’s presidential nomination, saying: “Last night when you took stage in Sacramento, there was a woman standing next to me who was absolutely sobbing. And she said, you know, ‘It’s time. It’s past time.’ And you see the women — you see people here, and people just come up to you, and they get tears in their eyes. Do you feel — do you feel the weight of what this means for people?”

NPR “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep has been the radio equivalent to former “60 Minutes” softball specialist Steve Kroft. With Obama, he wasn’t an interrogator but a facilitator. After the Democrats were trounced in the 2014 midterms, Inskeep asked Obama, “Is there some way in which that election just passed has liberated you?”

All this is why Democrats make sure the money keeps flowing to PBS and NPR. They are the wind beneath Democratic wings.

Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.