Saturday, September 03, 2005

Ruth's Morning Edition Report

Ruth: NPR's Morning Edition got off to a really bad start in their coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath. Monday's broadcast was probably the worst of the week. It included a commentary by Chris Rose that hopefully was taped ahead of time and a story on a "human cannonball." A disaster was taking place in this country but Morning Edition was trying to do their high brow version of comedy mixed with moments of seriousness. On that note, Steve Inskeep really should work on losing the entertained lilt in his voice when asking questions.
Tuesday's broadcast was not an improvement, not even by comparison.

It is true that Steve and seemed to grasp that this tragedy wasn't another story they could jaw bone over with amusing anecdotes and the occassional voiced with concern remark but the realization seemed to come slowly. Once again, the broadcast featured a commentary that was pointless but in keeping with Morning Edition's desire to be "pithy." The "news" of a Dutch version of Big Brother with a pregnant house mate didn't belong on Morning Edition in a slow news week and it certainly didn't belong amidst a national tragedy. These type of "chuckle stories" waste listeners' time during a slow news week and they are appalling when a tragedy is occurring. The story of a Florida business owner depositing her candies in a bank was also far from the reality of what was going on.

By Wednesday, Morning Edition finally seemed aware that their mixtures of pith, whimsy and actual news reporting was a sour blend. Perhaps, like the Bully Boy, they were just a little slow on the take and failed to grasp the horror that the country was witnessing?

By Friday, they did a solid broadcast and one they can be proud of. They cannot, however, erase the memories of earlier shows in the week and it's time Morning Edition stopped aspiring to be an educated version of Live with Regis and Kelli! The best reporting was done on Friday and I would select Pam Fessler's "Why Wasn't New Orleans Better Prepared?" report as the best of the best.

The tone Morning Edition was struggling to achieve for most of the week could be found in Friday's half-hour broadcast of CounterSpin which I listened to on Pacifica's WBAI out of New York.)

Sonali Kolhatkar's Uprising on Los Angeles' KPFK was one of the shows I sampled this week and it is a favorite of community member Cindy. This hourly show broadcasts Monday through Friday from eight to nine a.m. Pacific Time (eleven to noon Eastern Standard Time). Uprising is a serious program that hit hard all week in half the time Morning Edition had but still provided at least three times the information found in NPR's flagship morning show.

I also strongly recommend Lila Garrett's Connect the Dots which airs Mondays on KPFK (seven a.m. Pacific Time, ten a.m. Eastern Standard Time). Monday's program featured Mark Manning who reported on Falluja, non Dexter Filkins reporting. [Note Manning is the director of Caught in the Crossfire, a short documentary film that's being shown across the country.]

I had problems with the online stream from Houston's KPFT (and also with KPFK's Feminist Magazine which airs Wednesday nights from ten to eleven Eastern Standard Time). When problems occurred, I picked up programs I'd enjoyed from WBAI. The KPFK Evening News, broadcast Monday through Friday six to seven p.m. Pacific Time, at eight to nine, Central Time, nine to ten EST, remains my favorite evening news broadcast (radio or television).

Thursday's weekly First Voices, hosted by Tiokasin Ghosthorse and Mattie Harper, remains a favorite of mine. The program, which airs from ten to eleven Eastern Standard Time, focuses on Indigenous people. Thursday's program included a discussion of Native American's views on abortion. Public radio is supposed to provide a platform for voices that are left out of the mainstream media and as NPR moves further and further from that mission statement, I continue to enjoy hearing the perspectives that are missing from not only commercial broadcast radio but also from NPR.

Thursday brought the Christmas Coup Players, Pacifica WBAI's monthly comedy program. This is an original radio program, a sketch comedy program, and you're not getting anything like it on NPR. Now it is true that Cokie and the Gaskateers often provide unintended belly laughs on Morning Edition, but the Christmas Coup Players actually set out to make you laugh.

Have you listened to them? If not, you're missing comedy that provides laughs and commentary. See if you don't laugh as "Pat Robertson" explains that "Christ was born a market capitalist" and then vows to become "the Pinochet to those people." Or the CCNN sketch, a send up of CNN, which included Rush Limbaugh's complaint that, as with the coverage from Iraq, the media is only showing "the bad things" happening in New Orleans. In addition to the sketches, The Christmas Coup Players provide song parodies and the hour moves quickly from one laugh to another. If you're older enough to remember the TV show Laugh In, that's the sort of brisk pace the Christmas Coup Players moves at.

The program broadcasts on the first Thursday of each month and WBAI is archiving all of its programming. C.I.'s going to add the Christmas Coup Players' own web site to the permalinks and you can also listen to archived programs via their own web site so I hope you'll sample the program. [Note: Permalink additions will be added either Sunday or Monday.]

Otherwise you might miss Condi Rice and Dick Cheney attempting to make sense of the crayon messages left by the Bully Boy. Here's a sample.

Ms. Rice: He wants lawn chairs outlawed?
Mr. Cheney: Well Cindy Sheehan came to Crawford with a lawn chair.
Ms. Rice: And she almost ruined the president's vacation.
[. . .]
Mr. Cheney: Terrorist children are the enemy and should be sent to bed without dessert or a tongue.
Ms. Rice: I see you've been reading the new Iraqi draft constitution, Dick.

I believe most of the Pacifica stations will be interrupting programming this week to broadcast the John Roberts, Jr. Supreme Court confirmation hearings live. Houston's KPFT has this announcement posted:

Hearings for Supreme Court nominee John Roberts
Tuesday-Thursday, September 6-8
Tuesday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wednesday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday: TBA; shows may go on, but hearings could continue.

Those are Central Times. Tuesday's live coverage will begin at noon EST, eleven a.m. Central and nine Pacific continuing through six EST, five Central and three p.m. Pacific. Wednesday's live broadcast will begin at nine EST, eight Central and six in the morning Pacific continuing through six p.m. EST, five p.m. Central and three p.m. Pacific.

If you'd like to listen, you can tune into your local Pacifica station over the air waves or listen online at the station's website or at the Pacifica home page.

I don't usually comment on Pacifica's Democracy Now! which broadcasts on radio, television and the web, due to the fact that is already covered here Monday through Friday in the mid-day entries as well as in the weekend entries done by Maria, Francisco or Miguel. However, I would like to note that Democracy Now!'s coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, like other coverage in the past, provided me with the issues that would later be picked up in the coverage of the mainstream media, much later in the case of Morning Edition, as well as issues that would have been otherwise ignored.

I'd like to close with Democracy Now!'s "Desperately Seeking Loved Ones Missing in New Orleans" in full. I think the voices heard bring perspective and, possibly, someone reading might have information on one or more of the missing persons:

JUAN GONZALEZ: We go now to people around the country who are searching for any word of loved ones that were in the path of hurricane Katrina. These are some of the voices of those who were desperately reaching out to family and friends lost in the destruction's wake.
"My name is Diana Rouchamp. I'm seeking information regarding Bereita Scott, a 87 -- 88-year-old woman from New Orleans, Louisiana, who lived in Ponchartrain Park. Please give me any information that you can where she is now, and give her my phone number. My number is (773) 613-6608. I love you. I'm so worried. Please -- please contact me. Have somebody tell me that you are okay."
"My name is Sally Tranin, and I'm looking for Jimmy Cahn. He lives in the French Quarter in a one-story house. I'm looking for his brother, Richard Cahn, who lives on DeSoto. We have three extra bedrooms, and we would like them to come and stay with us. Our phone number is area code (816) 753-0033, room 315."
"My name is Laurie Passer, and I am looking for my brother, Arthur Pastor. He lives in the New Orleans area either in New Orleans or somewhere surrounding. If anyone has any kind of information on his whereabouts, phone number, I don't have any information on him right now. So, if you could give me a call, my name is Laurie. My telephone number is 949 area code, 285-2554. That's for Arthur Pastor. Thank you."
"My name is Judy Landsey, I'm looking for my sister, Victoria Lenza, she lives in the French Quarter in New Orleans. She was last spoken to by telephone on Saturday. I do not know if she evacuated or if she waited out the storm. Anyone with any information regarding her whereabouts or her safety, please contact me at (630) 202-6970. Thank you."
"My name is Christina Lagman. I reside in California. We're looking for family around – both in and around New Orleans, Louisiana, and Gulfport, Mississippi. The surnames of family, is Lagman and Bryant, If anyone has any information of both families. We're missing approximately 50-plus family members. Please get a hold of us. Our family is very worried. You can contact us either by email at Or you call us directly at area code (951) 750-0104. Thank you very much. Any information will help. We do have houses, and assistance is available for our family. Please give us a call."
"My name is Steve Saucier. I'm looking for my brother. My brother is Denis Saucier. His was last at this address – 4131C Loire Drive in Chateau Estates, which is a section of Kenner, Louisiana. Dennis is approximately six feet tall, about 220 pounds, 54 years of age. Gray or black hair, thinning. He recently suffered strokes, and his vision is impaired as a result. Could you please contact Steve at (828) 289-4404."
"My name is Hilda White Singleton and I'm looking for my brother Arthur White, Edna White, August White Al White and my sister Gilda Cosby White and also, Ginell Sarin. From the night wall area. My brother was seen on the first clipping of CNN, the one on the roof with the green shirt. You can contact me at area code (972) 230-7070. Any information you could give me, I appreciate it. Thank you."