Saturday, August 27, 2005

Ruth's Morning Edition Report

Ruth: For those who e-mailed wondering where I've been, I wanted to spend some time with my grandchildren before school started so I gladly took C.I. up on the offer to take some time off.

For the Morning Edition Report, I've been attempting to listen to KPFA out of California online and had the worst problem. Tracey and my oldest grandson finally figured out what the problem was and added whatever needed adding or took off whatever needed taking off.

I treat the computer like I do my purse, I just want to be able to dig in and grab what I need. I don't reflect on how much my purse can hold or how it "works," I just expect it to hold what I need and do what it's supposed to. Which is my excuse for not knowing what they did. They tried to explain it but after two minutes of watching their lips move, I told them, "No more megillah."

Tuesday night I was finally able to listen to KPFA. Flashpoints is a show I'd heard of but never heard. The show is hosted Dennis Bernstein. Mr. Bernstein hit hard on Iraq and the need for the movement in this country to increase the protests. There was a serious discussion on Iraq that I've not heard on NPR so I'd recommend it to people who are tired of the waves of Operation Happy Talk that are quickly followed by "Oops, we might have been a little too optimistic . . ."

Mr. Bernstein also dealt with Pat Roberston's fatwa on Hugo Chavez. That wasn't Mr. Bernstein's term but I heard about it, and heard the clip, on several shows today and that's the term I think applies. Mr. Bernstein was appropriately outraged by Mr. Robertson's remarks but I wonder why ABC thinks they can down play Mr. Robertson's remarks. Now Jesus isn't a figure I grew up studying, I'm Jewish, but I don't really see how this fit the teachings of Jesus or, for that matter, the Ten Commandments. Those topics were all just from Tuesday's show.

Throughout the week, Mr. Bernstein and others on Flashpoints addressed the events in Gaza. What stands out most from the week long reporting on Gaza is the fact that events reported on Flashpoints would, later in the week, slowly trickle into the mainstream media in a watered down form.

Originally I had a Morning Report ready for posting on Friday morning. Most of which appears in this entry; however, I had strayed from public radio to praise a show airing on commercial radio. Tracey called me to advise me to pull the report because the person in question, who'd been so on target during the early part of the week, had gone on to make repugnant remarks later in the week.

For this entry, I've deleted my critique of that show and that host which is too bad because one of the reasons I'd noted the person was that members had e-mailed asking me to listen to the program and also because the person had the funniest line on Pat Robertson all week.

I will note that it's unfortunate that some people can't decide where they stand on the war. Other than that, I have nothing to say.

I also got more e-mails on The Laura Flanders Show which I enjoy as well; however, it's broadcast on commercial radio and the focus of Morning Edition Report is public radio. Ms. Flanders does host, alternating with Mary Ambrose, a public radio show on San Francisco's KALW. The one hour program is called Your Call and airs Mondays through Friday. (Ms. Ambrose hosts Mondays through Wednesdays and Ms. Flanders hosts Thursdays and Fridays.)

Thursday's discussion revolved around global warming. If you've listened to The Laura Flanders Show, you know Ms. Flanders isn't an echo chamber. This was demonstrated on Thursday's show as she brought in two Native Americans to discuss the issue. They, and other guests, offered new perspectives and dimensions to the debate. Friday was a media roundtable that featured, among others, John Nichols of The Nation. Mr. Nichols was the only guest I heard on any program defending Pat Robertson's right to be stupid -- not the remarks Mr. Robertson's made but his right to use his freedom of speech to flaunt his ignorance.

On programs and web sites I've heard and seen talk of using the Patriot Act to prosecute Pat Robertson. As someone opposed to the Patriot Act, I was saddened that some on the left would lose sight of principles in this instance. I agreed with Mr. Nichols that Mr. Robertson has the right to make idiotic remarks. I also agree with Media Matters for America's call for ABC to address the issue since Mr. Robertson's advocating the assassination of Hugo Chavez aired on ABC Family.

Pacifica's The KPFA Evening News can be contrasted with any NPR newscast and win hands down. One of the benefits is that Aileen Alfandary and Mark Mericle never feel the need to repeatedly state, "This is . . ." Morning Edition is the worst offender but it's not the only one on NPR that feels the need to announce, throughout the show, the names of the hosts. If Morning Edition cut out the constant repetition, they could probably fit in an additional story, at least one. The other obvious difference is the lack of "cute" stories. It's a serious broadcast which also means none of the annoying bumper music that Morning Edition utilizes.

On Tuesday, they led with claims by the Bully Boy that Cindy Sheehan doesn't represent most military families views and then moved into the large protest against the Bully Boy in Idaho: "Today protesters out numbered residents in the tiny mountain town of Donnelly[,]" Idaho. Another report dealt with the apparent future for women in Iraq under the possible constitution. As one factual report after another was delivered in a serious manner with none of the anchor chatter that's become a hallmark of NPR, I was once again reminded of how soft and fuzzy NPR has become.

We learned that the peace protester tasered in Pittsburgh was tasered without warning. That story, noted by
Ava in "The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review," has never been noted on Morning Edition, though we have had time, on Monday, for a parachuter who went off course and, on Tuesday, for a fisherman who drove his boat backwards back to shore. "Cute" but not really news.

Ava also noted, in "The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review," the revelations in London regarding the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes. Strangely, Morning Edition has had nothing to report on that story. The week passed with no report despite the fact that Brazil has sent two investigators to London. Apparently two reports on Thursday about a the new "white wheat" bread were among the many more pressing stories that Morning Edition felt the nation had to be informed of first.

KPFA Evening News did have an indepth report on the latest revelations in the de Mendez shooting. They also looked at the issue of mercury in fish. If they could have found a "cute" angle on fish contaminated with mercury, Morning Edition might have covered it. For instance, if it had hit the parachuter tangled in power lines in the face or if it had eaten a loaf of "white wheat" bread, Steve might have been happy to bring the story to you.

When I stared doing the Morning Edition Report, I was of the opinion that NPR had gotten lazy and less focused on news. I'm still of that opinion; however, it's been an educational experience to discover Pacifica Radio. Both WBAI and KPFA offer strong programming.

Morning Edition, by contrast, continues to divorce itself from reporting. One of the lowest moments may have occurred Wednesday. That's when Gaskateer Steve became the Morning Edition editor offering editorial comments.

Noting a demand reported last year that "all foreign oil companies leave Nigeria by October first"1st," Steve Inskeep took off the Cokie Roberts' Gaskateer ears (or pearls) to offer this editorial comment:

"That's how we reported last fall's demand which companies like Shell and Chevron could hardly afford to obey."

The statement went beyond reporting. ". . . which companies like Shell and Chevron maintain they can hardly afford . . ." is reporting. What Steve did was editorialize and, considering the petroleum dollars pumped into NPR and PBS, listeners have a right to wonder why that comment was included in the "report" that aired?

The KPFA Evening News is one hour of programming Monday through Friday contrasted with Morning Edition which airs for approximately one hour and fifty minutes Monday through Friday. With the repeated announcements of "This is Steve Inskeep" and "I'm Steve Inskeep" as well as healthy helpings of bumper music and "cute" stories, there's apparently not a great deal of time to spare on actual news. KPFA is offering online archived programs. For those listening for news, it might be smart to start your day with an archived broadcast of the previous night's KPFA Evening News than a "fresh" broadcast of Morning Edition.

KPFA broadcasts out of Berkeley, California and for those wanting to listen live, KPFA Evening News airs from six to seven p.m. Pacific Time.

I had hoped to note KPFT, Pacifica's station out of Houston, Texas; however, they were in the midst of a pledge drive this week. I've read the e-mails from devoted listeners to KPFT and I hope to listen to some programs that air on that station soon.

With KPFA, KPFT (which I did listen to but the programs were interrupted for the pledge drives) and WBAI (which is also archiving their broadcasts), I've been surprised to discover not only a wide range of voices but also consistently strong programming. I think that from those three stations alone, you could easily compile a daily listening schedule that would keep you near the computer for most of the day.

I had no problem finding programs to listen to; however, I did have problems remembering the time zones and stations. For instance, I really wanted to catch Feminist Magazine Wednesday night. (Seven p.m. Pacific time, ten p.m. my time). On Sunday when I was working out a listening schedule, I noted Feminist Magazine; however, I'd labeled the program as KPFA when it airs on KPFK out of Los Angeles. Before I began listening to Pacifica Radio, I was under the impression that my choices for solid, informative radio were severely limited. Now I find that the "problem" is that there's so much out there.

I encourage members to explore Pacifica Radio and, if you find a program that you enjoy, please e-mail me and I'll try to note it here. Like Micah, First Voices Indigenous Radio, Thursdays at ten a.m. Eastern on WBAI, is now one of my favorite programs.

Marcia asked that, when I write again, I include something about my grandchildern. Last week, we did a lot of day trips, and Tracey and I went to a vigil for Cindy Sheehan in our area, but what stands out the most was when they wanted to pull out their grandfather's vinyl records. My husband had a huge record collection and could be very fussy about it so they are all in close to mint condition. Tracey and I had gone through photo albums earlier this summer and she couldn't believe the man she knew only as her grandfather was once in his own garage band. That led to my sharing that Treva was interested in the singer of a band and kept asking me to go watch them rehearse because she didn't want to hang around rehearsals all by herself. Treva lost interest in the singer quickly but that's how I met the semi-shy drummer with glasses and ended up marrying him a few years later.

Tracey took that story back to the other grandchildren and that didn't fit with the way that they remembered their grandfather so we pulled out his albums and played some. Jimi, Jefferson Airplane and Janis were especial favorites of my husband and Tracey pointed out that little Elijah smiled, grunted on the beat, and waved his arms when Janis was singing the lah-lah-lah parts of "Me & Bobby McGee." I think my husband would have been most pleased about about Elijah grunting on the beat.

Summer's winding down and we may not have had a Summer of Love, but we've certainly seen a Summer of Activism.