Thursday, April 7, 2011

What passes as news on VPR

The other morning VPR's "news" broadcasts provided another example of the garden variety propaganda which passes as news on VPR.  The first story reported a "concern" by what VPR called a nuclear "watchdog".  The "watchdog" is the New England Coalition against Nuclear Pollution, an organization whose rigid religious beliefs about  nuclear power have not changed one iota since its founding forty years ago despite the unparalleled safety and clean air record of nuclear power.  New England Coalition's "concern" broadcast by VPR was that there were submerged cables at Vermont Yankee.  VPR did not bother to air any response to debunk this harebrained claim.   In fact, VPR has broadcast this particular "concern" about submerged cables at least a half a dozen times over the last six months.  VPR has regularly broadcast New England Coalition's press releases as news for decades, most of the time without broadcasting any response to the Coalition's claims.  And VPR always calls the New England Coalition a "watchdog", rather than the rigidly ideological advocacy group it actually is.

The  next story did use the word "ideologue" about--guess who?  Republicans.  The story was a typical puff piece "interview"  with Rep. Peter Welch.  As usual, VPR never asked any tough questions, but allowed Welch to pronounce his views  without examination.  Welch was talking about the budget, and of course, indicated that Republican ideologues were getting in the way of a sensible budget.  VPR could have asked Welch why the Democrats did not pass their budget last year, or what is Welch's plan to deal with the 1.5 trillion dollar deficit this year, but VPR, as usual, never asked any questions except those which allowed Welch a platform for his views.

So: this is what passes for news at VPR:  a broadcast of a press release by a rigidly ideological advocacy group called a "watchdog" by VPR, and a broadcast of  a press event on behalf of  Rep. Welch in which Welch   disparages his opponents with VPR's tacit approval.

VPR has a perfect right to broadcast propaganda.  But it should not call itself a news organization or ask for taxpayer's money to support its ideology. 

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