You can’t hate all the people all the time (can you?)

I understand that the Global War Against Unions is strategic, that the goal is to eliminate unions because unions support Democrats. But what’s the big political upside to the anti-NPR jihad? I don’t think there’s many swing voters who are excited by the idea of eliminating public broadcasting and I don’t think it motivates the Republican base that much either. Is it just about pissing off liberals?

(Picture via Swash Zone)

68 replies
  1. 1
    Xoebe says:

    You can’t have a Scorched Earth policy if you don’t scorch the earth.

  2. 2
    Martin says:

    Is it just about pissing off liberals?

    Nah. Just as there are arbitrary dividing lines to distinguish loyal Democrats and Republicans, much of what we’re watching is the establishment of loyalty test for establishment GOP vs teabaggers.

    The GOP tolerated public radio. They tolerated unions. Those things need to go in order to show your teabagger cred. It doesn’t need to make any more sense than fights over which is better – vanilla or chocolate ice cream.

  3. 3
    JWL says:

    It’s about control of ALL the airwaves. 99.9 per cent isn’t enough. Even ol’ chicken-hearted NPR is unacceptable.

  4. 4
    Baud says:

    Pissing off liberals motivates the Republican base. The underlying issue really doesn’t matter much.

  5. 5
    Matt says:

    NPR isn’t being attacked for fighting against conservative causes, they’re being attacked because they didn’t SMILE whilst fluffing their overlords. Anybody who’s heard the “cut Social Security NAOW!” nonsense that passes for “business” coverage over there could recognize that.

  6. 6
    James E Powell says:

    The Republicans need a constant supply of witches, so they often have to find a normal person and dress her up like a witch. (h/t Monty Python.)

    Also too, the right-wing, which lives off lies, needs to maintain a constant assault on any source of information that is contrary to the lies. This is so even for those sources that, like NPR, oppose them with the force and authority of a wet dishrag.

  7. 7
    virag says:

    it _does_ motivate the republican teabagging base. though most of them have never listened, npr is one of those culture war touchstones that the morons love to hate.

  8. 8
    Alex S. says:

    I think there is a concerted effort to eliminate public institutions with the whiff of liberalism. Or why is it that whenever there is legislative action against some institution, suddenly James O’Keefe is there with a tape. It happened with Acorn, they tried it with Planned Parenthood, and now it’s NPR. We could try to predict the next target, maybe the Peace Corps.

  9. 9
    Alex says:

    Conservatives have hated NPR and PBS for a long time. I think it’s partially pissing off liberals and partially hating anything that isn’t corporate run.

  10. 10
    TG Chicago says:

    I think an important part is that they need to be seen by the base as “doing something” to cut the budget. Basically, the NPR thing is a heat-sink. It keeps the base mad at liberals while not costing the GOP much.

    Also, I think it’s long been a strategy of the GOP to make NPR seem like it’s strongly liberal. That’s why Fox News had Mara Liasson and Juan Williams — longtime NPR news analysts both — as regular “lefty” members of their Fox News Sunday panel. If you make a balanced operation seem liberal, then you shift the Overton Window to the right. (The fact that neither of them is particularly liberal nor good at expressing or defending liberal policies is a nice bonus)

  11. 11
    Chris says:

    It’s all about pissing off liberals.

    This is why I think we should have the “LAM” group, Liberals Against Murder. That way the Teahadists will all become pro-murder. Perhaps also LABE, Liberals Against Baby-Eating; and ProMoL, Pro-Motherhood-Liberals, and so on.

  12. 12
    The Dangerman says:

    OT, and I don’t know how many college basketball games I’ve watched in my life (lessee, 40 years, 30 to 50 a year, let’s just call it a lot)…

    …but the end of Butler and Pitt was a first that I can recall. First Butler brain cramps and then Pitt brain cramps in return. In the last 2.2 seconds. Wow.

    My bracket is hosed (and my UCLA lost, so … I need a drink).

  13. 13
    Parallel 5ths (Irish Steel) says:

    On The Media (the one NPR show I like, generally) is going to investigate whether NPR has a liberal bias.

    I haven’t listened yet, but here it is:

  14. 14
    Mark S. says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Yeah, that hosed that region for me, but it was a great ending.

  15. 15
    scav says:

    A token and highly symbolic blow against the Liberal Media! Bonus points because there is no damage to the Sacred Shareholder!

  16. 16
    Calouste says:


    Become pro-murder? You’re saying they aren’t already?

  17. 17
    The Dangerman says:

    @Mark S.:

    Yeah, that hosed that region for me, but it was a great ending.

    I feel terrible for Jaime Dixon; if I were him, I’m already drinking. He’s had enough shit happen to him in the past few years (with his Sister and all).

  18. 18
    KG says:

    It’s Us vs Them politics, which seems to be the only type of politics the GOP understands anymore (side note: all those people that said Karl Rove was a political genius are fucking idiots, winning 51-49 does not make you a political genius, it makes you really fucking lucky and it also makes it damn near impossible to govern). The fact that it pisses off liberals, or is thought to piss off liberals is all that passes for analysis.

  19. 19
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    If Cokie Roberts is a liberal from NPR, then Rachel Maddow is a member of the Shining Path.

  20. 20
    Parallel 5ths (Irish Steel) says:

    @Parallel 5ths (Irish Steel):

    So, if you think that NPR has a liberal bias, then you are defunding a propaganda organ. And if you think NPR is generally truthful, then I refer you to something wise Colbert once said.

    Having the media in almost exclusively the hands of moneyed interests serves a certain agenda too.

  21. 21
    chrismealy says:

    They’re working the refs. Without government funding NPR might actually be more liberal (if their corporate backers would allow it).

  22. 22
    Jason says:

    @Xoebe: This is really it. It’s the same thing here with Corbett’s budget: once things go away, they don’t come back. So it’s not about this one-time issue. It’s that there’s no longer a platform, ever.

  23. 23

    Republicans believe that if citizens vote based on emotion, the Republican Party wins. Democrats (on a good day) believe that if citizens vote based on facts, the country wins.

    Does this make it clearer why the Republicans hate NPR and prefer commercial radio and TV?

  24. 24
    RoryBellows says:

    Look at the ratings of NPR shows like Morning Edition and All Things Considered vs Rush Limbaugh and other AM idiot shows. They’re battling for first place. That’s why they go after NPR, it’s the competition.

  25. 25
    Alison says:

    @Chris: Liberals Against Baby Eating?? But then what will I do with all my aborted fetuses? Come on now, don’t let’s be silly…

  26. 26
    trixie larue says:

    Why are the republicans so good at defining the point to beat. Now they are all saying “it’s class warfare,” as if the democrats are trying to ruin everything when in fact it is the republicans who are responsible for the warfare and the mess they created before that.

    Why don’t the democrats start defining the points or putting it back on the republicans?

    Carl Nyberg is right.

  27. 27
    parsimon says:

    But what’s the big political upside to the anti-NPR jihad?

    I wondered if this was a rhetorical question. As others have said, it’s two-fold: NPR is being billed as elitist and therefore left-wing. And there’s an ongoing drive to eliminate perceived liberal organizations. You haven’t noticed?

  28. 28
    meh says:

    the systematic attacks against ACORN, the unions, NPR, etc is all part of the same plan. The GOP views this as a war for the soul of the country. And in a war, the best way to win is to cut off the opposing forces supply lines – in this case, money and communications (command and control). They figure if they take out the unions, it means no more funding of Democratic candidates and if they take out NPR, de-claw CNN and MSNBC, then their message doesn’t get out. That’s the basis of the fights with the unions, npr, etc. It’s about total victory. Annoying liberals is just a bonus – but more importantly it keeps our attention off of their destruction of our supply line and focused on reproductive rights, etc. They may be crazy but they aren’t stupid.

  29. 29
    Jim, Once says:

    I haven’t read the comments like I usually do … sorry. All I want to say is that, for the first time ever, I stuck in the back window of my car a bumper sticker – a very modest bumper sticker, that said “Union=Jobs”. I did it with great trepidation, because I know that even something as modest as this will be met with keying, eggs, etc. That’s just the way it is here. Thank you. That is all.

  30. 30

    If liberals are afore it, then batguanocrazy Lipton Tea Baggers are agin it. It’s pretty much that simple. Which is why we really need to start saying we’re for things like looking both ways before crossing the street.

    @Jim, Once: I like it. Simple, blunt, to the point. Good on you.

  31. 31
    Bruce Webb says:

    No it is not about pissing off liberals. That is crazy talk. It is about pissing off Atrios aka Duncan Black who is intent on removing us from our comfortable suburban homes and subjecting us to the agony of ready access to Tapas bars, orchestral music, and fine art in urban hell-holes. Luckily we have access to his home address and bus route so—

    Sorry, got to go, the guys from the FBI and the local mental health clinic are at the door. With a nice spiffy white jacket (with straps and buckles in odd positions). Lucky me!!! Free outerwear plus room and board!!!

  32. 32
    Ash Can says:

    Another strike against public radio is that the people who listen to it have an inconvenient tendency to think for themselves, and we can’t have that, now, can we?

  33. 33
    greylocks says:

    The P stands for Public. That means it’s a crypto-socialist organization that is broadcasting subliminal messages to indoctrinate the public into becoming America-hating islamofemicommie queers.

    Never underestimate the ability of wingnuts to see the hand of Karl Marx in everything.

  34. 34
    parsimon says:

    @meh: This gets it right. Though it’s not just a war for the soul of the country, but a war for its pocketbooks. Class warfare.

  35. 35
    AndrewJ says:

    Is it just about pissing off liberals?

    Spite. It’s what’s for GOP dinner.

    Here’s something Kathleen Parker wrote last year in a column about Sarah Palin:

    For what it’s worth, I get a kick out of Sarah (…) She and I apparently share a certain genetic predisposition to annoy all the right people. These would be the folks who take themselves and their ideologies a tad too seriously. Thus when I was promoting my book, “Save the Males,” I wore an aggressively feminine suit — pink with a bow in back — just to irritate hard-line feminists, who, without bothering to read the book, would hate it on sight. I happen to hate bows, but it was worth it.

    Let’s take a closer look at that: Kathleen deliberately discomfited herself in the hopes that fewer people would buy her book.

    Welcome to the culture wars, 2010 edition.

  36. 36
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    I spend a lot of time around the snooty faux-libertarian elitist portion of the right, and they lap this stuff up on principle. I think for them and the other ideological battleaxes it’s really a deeply ideological issue, and poor white people from the South just see it as a piss-off-teh-librulz thing.

  37. 37
    Parallel 5ths (Irish Steel) says:

    @efgoldman: It was a quiet affair. Just me, Peter King and length of rubber hose. The
    swelling’s just now starting to go down.

  38. 38
    The Political Nihilist Formerly Known As Kryptik says:

    Of course it’s all about pissing off liberals, DougJ. Like I keep saying, the country seems to generally subsist on Hippie Punching as the core of its political life. I mean, I know most of the ideas above were jokes, but I honestly see a significant part of America shutting off their brains in knee-jerk opposition to anything a liberal or hippie might like, even if it’s plain common sense like not liking murder, or opposing baby-eating.

    Of course, they usually have the good sense to obfuscate the issues with non-sequiturs and projection.

  39. 39
    HE Pennypacker, Wealthy Industrialist says:

    You’re missing the point. It’s all about the larger ideology of the right-wing, which is that the MSM (NPR included) has a liberal bias. This bias is accepted as truth and is used to explain any objective fact that contradicts right-wing ideology, from global warming to you name it. Attacking NPR is a patriotic act for these people.

  40. 40
    VidaLoca says:

    I seem to recall that, during the first administration of Bush the Lesser, the object vis-a-vis NPR was to gain control of the Board of Directors and the management. That didn’t work out too well, and in any case they don’t control the appointment power at the moment, so now the object is to destroy NPR and public broadcasting more generally since that ability they do have.

  41. 41
    HE Pennypacker, Wealthy Industrialist says:

    @meh: You have it right. In a prolonged propaganda war, defeating anything with a remotely moderate-scientific bias in favor of the shit-Wurlitzer of Fox News, the Weekly Standard, and the Cato Institute is a prime objective. It must be destroyed before CNN and MSNBC, because they can at least count on CNN and MSNBC to sell out to corporations.

  42. 42
    slag says:

    I’m with Digby on this. It’s boilerplate attack the media with a side of free market demagoguery. Mostly it’s about pushing NPR to genuflect even more to the rightwing. With the added benefit of reminding their base how Faux is the only news they can trust. Win-win-win.

  43. 43
    keestadoll says:

    Is it just about pissing off liberals?


  44. 44
    AAA Bonds says:

    It’s naive to think that NPR isn’t left-leaning for an American news source. It’s clearly center-left, which is unusual in this country. Write down the “headline” stories on All Things Considered on a pad of paper. You’ll see the slant if you’re being honest with yourself.

    However, that’s just the nature of the beast. I don’t know exactly why to be honest (although we could all take a few guesses) but it’s carved out its niche among the educated and left-leaning, and it seeks to keep those listeners.

    Defunding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is one solution to a potential problem, but to me, that’s ridiculous. You can’t weigh the good of a federal program based solely or even primarily on the political slant within it.

    My guess is that you’re going to find more left-wingers in HUD and right-wingers in DoD than vice versa. You could use this to try and defund the analytic offices of those departments (the parts that write reports used to craft policy).

    The smarter, saner thing to do is to realize that certain jobs attract certain people for a variety of reasons and this cycle feeds on itself, likely ending in significant correlation between party affiliation within a public venture and party support for the corresponding funding. So you shouldn’t rely too much on any one source, even if it agrees with your preconceptions (witness the errors of the Bush administration in substituting DoD for the consensus of different bureaus).

    I think it’s possible, even likely, that you can’t establish a publicly-funded media operation in America without it attracting more left-wingers than right-wingers, from listeners to staff to management to the board. After all, many American right-wingers are publicly opposed to the very concept. You could ideologically vet the entire thing, I suppose, but in that case, public broadcasting becomes an odious exercise in official propaganda.

    The best thing to do is just realize you’re tuning into a center-left source when you hear NPR News, and consider whether a public broadcasting service offers benefits that exist whether or not you agree with the slant of its news reporting on certain subjects.

  45. 45
    Yutsano says:

    @AAA Bonds:

    My guess is that you’re going to find more left-wingers in HUD and right-wingers in DoD than vice versa.

    I work with people at the IRS who advocate the elimination of the IRS. I’m not kidding. You can’t parody these folks sometimes.

  46. 46
    Spaghetti Lee says:


    I think one of the right’s greatest achievements is getting a whole bunch of people to take on this ridiculous lemming attitude that goes entirely against their interests in the name of some corporate pipe dream.

  47. 47
    mclaren says:

    The other commenters are right — this is about eliminating alternative information sources. NPR provides a counterbalancing source of information to Fox News and CNN and right wing hate radio.

    The goal is to shut down all sources of news except for the far-right propaganda. Once that happens, the American people will have no idea that things are not happening as the corporate propaganda machine claims they are happening.

    And what about the Internet?

    The internet doesn’t have nearly as much credibility as news organizations because a news organization gives you live footage. Most left wing internet sites just excerpt AP news reports or cite passages from government studies. A news organization like NPR can give live interviews and in-depth discussions. That’s far more dramatic and has a much bigger impact than citing cold statistics, as so many left wing sites tend to do.

    If you don’t believe that citing stats and facts is insufficient to change the public mind, just take a look at the surveys of whether people believe in evolution or global warming. The scientific consensus in both cases is overwhelming, yet 60% of the American people believe evolution is inadequate to explain the diversity of life on earth, and well over 70% of Americans believe there are still serious unresolved scientific questions about global warming.

  48. 48
    Josh says:

    There’s a lot of two-minute hates needed to keep the base mobilized, keep the resentment hot, keep the wingnuts convinced that they’re beleaguered heroes. Also, what Powell and HEPWI said above: legit sources of journalism, like universities, have to be defunded because they offer competing viewpoints.

  49. 49
    sublime33 says:

    Conservatives, or more accurately right wingers, hate NPR because NPR encourages the actual open discussion of topics without soundbites. Right wingers hate debate and love certainty. They hate science because they can’t control it and the results of experiments aren’t always conclusive. They have their series of firm beliefs and nothing is ever going to shake this no matter how wrong it is. They probably hate sports because there isn’t any certainty as to who will come out on top. Except maybe wrestling, which gave us Linda McMahon as a Senate candidate.

  50. 50
    DPirate says:

    While I am basically against unions for civil service, I do support this:

    Seems, this secretary of state has some backbone! Hurrah!

  51. 51
    Brachiator says:

    Is it just about pissing off liberals?

    To believe this presumes that the right wing cares about what liberals think or views them as the opposition. But the right wing is happily and busily doing everything they can to demolish anything that represents liberal or progressive values. Meanwhile, liberals have become addicted to solipsistic navel gazing and empty arguments over whether NPR is really “liberal,” which cannot disguise the fact that increasingly, liberals are becoming impotent and irrelevant. It should not be this way, but it will continue as long as some liberals cling to their whining sense of self importance.

  52. 52
    KS in MA says:

    It’s not about pissing off liberals, it’s about bullying and intimidating them.

  53. 53
    Batocchio says:

    I did a post recently that touched on some of this. Pissing off liberals is part of it. However, hacks from several Koch-funded organizations argue against public broadcasting – and also public libraries and public education. Some of them may believe their own vile crap. But plutocrats like the Kochs want the most ill-informed, poorly educated electorate they can buy.

  54. 54
    wonkie says:

    Conservatives are really totalitarians. They can’t stadt the possibility that soneone sonewhere might publically disagree with them.

  55. 55
    Ija says:

    I don’t understand why liberals are shocked about this. Conservatives have been against public broadcasting since forever. This is not new. I don’t really think this is about pissing off liberals. This is one of their first principles, like believing that cutting taxes magically raise revenues.

  56. 56
    RalfW says:

    Public Radio may not be as much of an antidote to the right wing wurlitzer as we’d like, but it is at least somewhat of one. And one that an amazing # of Americans tune in to (something like 27 million weekly listeners).

    The M.O. of the Republicans is an utter disregard for – disdain for, really – evidence based decision making. NPR has to be hobbled because it is still a silly old-school journalistic entity that tries to weigh facts and present things informatively.

    And that’s no way to dominate a nation. So NPR has to be cast out.

  57. 57

    It’s about eliminating anyone who doesn’t tow the conservative line 24/7.

  58. 58
    JackHughes says:

    NPR must be destroyed because it presents an alternative reality (i.e., “reality”) to the right-wing radioscape that would otherwise have a total media monopoly in most of rural America.

    For Republicans, opposition to NPR is just about eliminating alternatives to Rush Limbaugh on the radio.

  59. 59
    jayackroyd says:

    I think it’s about getting local NPR broadcasts off the air in red states.

  60. 60

    […] examples of conservative bigotry […]

  61. 61
    lllphd says:

    hm. that’s pretty easy, actually.

    think about it. polls consistently show that folks who listen to NPR are the best informed. it’s the inverse of the fox principle – these goons don’t want folks to be informed, they want us to be the political equivalent of barefoot and preggers.

    all the better to exercise their authoritarian bubba power all over us, ya know.

  62. 62
    Joel says:

    @KS in MA: Yep. In the political sense, Republicans are launching Total War. It’s going to be a long and brutal fight.

  63. 63
    AAA Bonds says:


    To believe this presumes that the right wing cares about what liberals think or views them as the opposition. But the right wing is happily and busily doing everything they can to demolish anything that represents liberal or progressive values. Meanwhile, liberals have become addicted to solipsistic navel gazing and empty arguments over whether NPR is really “liberal,” which cannot disguise the fact that increasingly, liberals are becoming impotent and irrelevant. It should not be this way, but it will continue as long as some liberals cling to their whining sense of self importance.

    Agreed. NPR is center-left. There’s no reason to continue debating it.

  64. 64

    The Republicans also seem to be good at the game of avoiding being on defense by always staying on offense. Of course, the media, including NPR, enables this.

  65. 65
    Bill Cole says:

    In many rural parts of the country there are 3 types of radio station: commercial automated music stations playing one of a few nationally homogenized playlists with no local staff or content and minimal headline news, Christianist “community” stations modeled after the Hutu stations of Rwanda, and NPR-affiliated public stations.

    Mix in the fact that the digital TV transition has made broadcast TV history for many rural areas and its is easy to see the opportunity offered to many GOP congressthings by killing off NPR: no more free media for their constituents with significant informational content.

  66. 66
    Thomas Beck says:

    It’s about destroying anything non-corporate, that is not completely dependent upon and beholden to the corporations and singing from the corporate songbook. Not that every corporation feels this way, but practically none of them argue against this attitude, even the ones that aren’t part of the Chamber of Commerce/Koch Brothers cabal.

  67. 67
    Chrisd says:

    @Bill Cole:
    Complete information blackout for Red America.

  68. 68
    Cereative Anarchy says:

    NPR isn’t a little threat to big business or the conservative base. It represents a multi-pronged attack against the values that the GOP pretends to uphold while simultaniously presenting news that isn’t in the pocket of the fortune 500 companies that the GOP really serves. It has a tendency to make independant voters out of disalusioned conservatives and progressives out of independents. When your entire powerbase is built atop of misinformation, information that you can’t control is your greatest threat.

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