NPR's Weekend News Shows Skipped Any Journalism on Obama Scandals -- But Found Six Minutes for Rhino Horns

May 13th, 2013 2:07 PM

How enthusiastic can NPR be in avoiding the emerging Obama scandals? Try this: So-called “All Things Considered” aired no features on Benghazi or the IRS on Saturday or Sunday. (This excludes on-the-hour news updates.) But they found time for six minutes on the trade in rhino horns.

It was more ridiculous on “Weekend Edition” Saturday and Sunday – they also skipped both. NPR correspondent Michele Kelemen reported on Secretary of State John Kerry for 4 minutes and 22 seconds without a single word about Libya. Somehow the State Department’s Benghazi fiasco wasn’t listed as a “thorny issue” in the Middle East:

SCOTT SIMON, ANCHOR: The U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, has been in the Middle East, Rome and Russia this week trying to find some kind of diplomatic end to Syria's civil war. He's also been trying to revive Israeli/Palestinian peace talks. Mr. Kerry has been the U.S. Secretary of State for just over 100 days, spending more than a third of that time overseas. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports on how his tenure at the State Department seems to be shaping up.

MICHELE KELEMEN: It's a job that caps a long career in public service and it's likely to be his last chance to make his mark on U.S. foreign policy, so Kerry has been diving right in, spending a lot of time on the thorniest issues in the Middle East.

Kelemen went right to words of praise for Kerry from Israeli Justice Minister Tsipi Livni for bringing the hope of peace with the Palestinians.

These were the first eight feature stories after the opening newscast on Saturday morning:

1. “What It's Like To Work In A Bangladeshi Factory”
2. “The Philosophy, Economics Behind Sourcing Retail”
3. “Mom's X-Ray Vision Also Sees The Best In Us” – because anchor Scott Simon had to go into commentary mode by Story Three.
4. “Immigration Overhaul Bill Survives Daylong Revamp”
5. “Sequester Has Air Force Clipping Its Wings”
6. “Schools? How About A Science Laureate At The Super Bowl?”
7. “Tiny Mites Spark Big Battle Over Imports Of French Cheese”
8. “Frozen Lakes Cut Into Minnesota Fishing Tradition”

Then came stories on HBO comedy shows, juke joints, and eight minutes on blues musician James Cotton. The Kerry story came after all of that.

Here are the first ten features on Weekend Edition Sunday instead of Obama scandals (unless you’d consider the Boston Marathon bombing as an Obama scandal, which wasn’t the case here):

1. “Early Results In Pakistan Point To Ex-Premier”
2. “Rhino Horns Fuel Deadly, Intercontinental Trade” (for six minutes, 12 seconds!)
3. “For Graduation, UMass Dartmouth Hopes To Convey 'Real Story'” (Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s alma mater adjusts.) 
4. “Bombing Suspect's Lawyer A Quiet Defender Of The Notorious” (This in part hails Dzhokhar attorney Judy Clarke for encouraging her conservative mother to slam then-Sen. Jesse Helms on AIDS.)
5. “Chasing A Dream, Speeding Down 'The Emerald Mile'” (author interview)
6. “He Didn't Just Call His Mother, He Made Her A Star”
7. “This One Is For You, Ma”
8. “A 'Cooked Seed' Sprouts After All, In America” (11-MINUTE author interview with a Chinese immigrant.)
9. “Gender Neutral: Armed Forces Submit Plans To End 'Exclusion'”
10. “First Female Fighter Pilot: 'Attention Wasn't What I Wanted'”

Those last two stories on gender politics in the military took ten and a half minutes, so the idea there was no “time” for Obama scandals is ludicrous.

Then let's see how the evening shows worked out. First, Saturday night's program with guest host Arun Rath had only eight stories, with much longer running times:

1. “In Guantanamo, Have We Created Something We Can't Close?”(The 11.5 minute story did include “pro-Gitmo” sound from former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.)
2. “Week In News: Hacking — Made In China” (China was the only topic.)
3. “Pakistanis Brave Violence To Cast Historic Votes”
4. “Combating The Rise In Teen Suicide”
5. “In Hollywood Twist, China Gets Its Own 'Iron Man'”
6. “Reminder: Three-Minute Fiction Round 11 Closing Soon”
7. “The 'Curious' Story Of Robert 'Believe It Or Not!' Ripley”
8. “LL Cool J On 'Accidental Racist' And Authenticity” (9 minutes, 32 seconds)

Sunday night also carried only eight stories:

1. “Checking More Than One Box: A Growing Multiracial Nation” (Guest host Arun Rath contemplated his own biracial navel and others for eleven minutes, 15 seconds.)
2. “Revisiting The McAfee Saga” (on John McAfee, computer-virus-protection entrepreneur)
3. “For Year-Round Buzz, Beekeepers 'Fast-Forward Darwinism’”
4. “New Closed-Captioning Glasses Help Deaf Go Out To The Movies”
5. "The Movie Mark McKinney Has 'Seen A Million Times'" (One-time “SNL” cast member loves anime film “My Neighbor Totoro.”)
6. “After Long Wait, Novelist James Salter Shares 'All That Is’” (almost seven minutes)
7. “Three-Minute Fiction”:
8. “Balancing Influences: Saxophonist Mahanthappa Blends Styles” (almost ten minutes)

These lists really reinforce how NPR has a deep self-love for its own focus on race, culture, and cosmopolitan globalism. They're also quite ardent about skipping over scandals that might damage their favorite liberal politicians. They know who keeps the taxpayer money coming in. It's a very routinized practice of political and ideological collusion.