It is fundraising time for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, and once again, perhaps more than ever, NPR and PBS are lying to you. If you watch the PBS broadcast of “Downton Abbey” this weekend, for example, you will find the show introduced by a series of promotions for such companies as Viking Cruise Lines. These spots look, feel, sound and smell like commercials, but because PBS describes them with the euphemism “promotional considerations,” it thinks it can magically make them non-commercial, and thus, within seconds of running these ads, and while making its audience wait fifteen minutes to actually see the programming, describes PBS as “commercial-free television.”
If you can sell commercials, guys, don’t tell me that the survival of Western civilization depends on my tax-payer dollars going into your pockets.
Over at National Public Radio, it’s also deception and hypocrisy, but worse. I just turned on WMAU, a local NPR affiliate, and heard the familiar strains of Boston townie accents talking about automotive issues on “Car Talk,” where the Tappet Brothers made the banter between Cliff and Norm sound pedestrian by comparison. After the last segment, in which “Click and Clack” answered a query from an LA area student about whether he should buy a car (Their answer, after much foolery: “No.”) Tom Tappet came on and explained that if this were commercial radio and they were sponsored by an auto manufacturer, the bothers might have felt pressured to give a different answer, or perhaps been fired for giving the honest one they did. And this is what is so important about NPR being listener-funded, he explained. It is independent radio. NPR is only interested in the objective truth, and isn’t swayed by conflict of interest.
Right, Tom! Ask Juan Williams about how independent NPR is. NPR isn’t listener-funded radio in the way promotions suggest. That phrase is classic deceit, since listeners contribute to the funding and the phrase is literally true. NPR is government-funded radio, and more to the point, Democratic Party government-funded radio, and NPR’s desperate desire to please their meal-ticket party is on display for all to hear every day of the week. I cited one typical example recently when NPR deliberately distorted a Ted Cruz interview. To NPR, I guess, that’s “objective truth”: Republicans are foolish and dumb, so editing Cruz’s responses to make him sound foolish and dumb was responsible reporting. How do we know they are foolish and dumb? Easy: they want to stop using taxpayer funds to pay for NPR and PBS, because there are now many, many other sources of news and culture.
Ah, but the double dealing wasn’t over at NPR this day. For Tom Tappet was succeeded by an NPR spokes woman, who took the hand-off. “Thanks, Tom!” she began. “I think the Car Guys want us to like them, and we want you to like NPR.” She then explained how our contributions keep unique shows like “Car Talk” on the air.
Now, anyone who hasn’t followed NPR and “Car Talk” and who tuned in when I did might say, “Hey, she’s right! I love “Car Talk” and those brothers are hilarious! I don’t want to miss any new episodes! Where’s my check book?” And that’s just what NPR would want them to think, for if it didn’t want that, it would not lie so blatantly. For you see…
1. “Car Talk” ended production in 2012. Now NPR runs old shows, which costs it virtually nothing, since it owns the tapes.
2. “The Car Guys” don’t want you to like them because there are no “Car Guys” any more. There is a ex-Car GUY, singular, because the older Tappet brother died in 2014.
3. The one who died was Tom, who made that tape years ago and whom the host pretended was exhorting listeners today.
That’s the Corporation of Public Broadcasting at work. That’s the ethics culture at NPR and PBS, and if you trust either to be objective, honest or independent, you’re either gullible or a Democrat.
I should mention here that I enjoy a lot of NPR and PBS programming, and have been used by more than one NPR affiliate as an ethics commentator. Oddly, they haven’t asked me to comment on their fundraising conduct.