NPR ombudsman: Yeah, that “teabag” cartoon was wrong but we’re not apologizing

posted at 6:10 pm on January 8, 2010 by Allahpundit

Actually, a pretty decent piece.

That said, there are problems with the Tea Bag animation. Chief among them is it doesn’t fit with NPR values, one of which is a belief in civility and civil discourse.

Fiore is talented, but this cartoon is just a mean-spirited attack on people who think differently than he does and doesn’t broaden the debate. It engages in the same kind of name-calling the cartoon supposedly mocks…

There will be no apology and Fiore’s cartoon is staying up, said Ellen Weiss, senior vice president for news. “Opinion and satire are going to sting some members of the audience and soothe others,” she said, noting NPR has received some positive feedback. “This one satire is not the only coverage on the topic and while it offends some members of the audience, I see no reason to remove it.”…

But if NPR continues using Fiore, it should quickly find a cartoonist to counter his decidedly liberal take. Critics are right to take NPR to task for only representing one side using such a strong visual medium as an animated cartoon with sound and text. Putting it up against conservative National Review articles doesn’t cut it. The near-record response proves that more balance is needed.

Yeah, that was always my problem with it. I don’t care if they apologize; in fact, it’s refreshing to see an editor willing to take the “sorry if you’re offended” line with angry readers in defense of satire. Will they take the same line if Kurt Westergaard decides he’s ready to have another go at a bomb-in-the-turban Mohammed ‘toon, though? Forgive me for being skeptical based on the prior practices of American media.

Probably the most important takeaway from this: A pretty impressive grassroots response driven by righty blogs. 300 e-mails, according to the ombudsman, and phone calls every 10 minutes for two days. Populism-mania!

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I remember a few decades ago PBS aired a “documentary” showing the gay activist group Act Up stormed into Catholic church services in San Francisco screaming and yelling obscenities all to the tune of Tom Lehrer’s “Vatican Rag”.

They did this right AFTER one of their fundraiser drives. They were barraged by viewers calling to cancel their contributions. People called their banks and canceled payments on the checks that they had sent in.

NPR can be affected by the same thing – except for the fact that they partially suck off of our tax dollar.

kurtzz3 on January 8, 2010 at 6:16 PM

I don’t care if they apologize; in fact, it’s refreshing to see an editor willing to take the “sorry if you’re offended” line with angry readers in defense of satire.

It’d be more refreshing if it wasn’t done on taxpayer money. Then it would just be another blip.

Contributor X on January 8, 2010 at 6:17 PM

NPR is nothing to me…just give us back our money and go away.

d1carter on January 8, 2010 at 6:17 PM

I find it amusing. They are really running scared. The ridicule is spinning out fast and furious now that their messiah is going down in flames.

John the Libertarian on January 8, 2010 at 6:18 PM

It’d be more refreshing if it wasn’t done on taxpayer money. Then it would just be another blip.

But if you apply that principle, you give them cover to say they can’t run the Mohammed cartoons because Muslim taxpayers will be offended. Offensive material is fine; just be evenhanded about it.

Allahpundit on January 8, 2010 at 6:21 PM

NPR, doesn’t the mean National Public Radio? Am I confused about the fact they receive significant tax dollars to do their programing. If so, they have no business running such a cArtoon. If private groups wish to be one sided that’s different.

chemman on January 8, 2010 at 6:21 PM

The interesting thing about this, is the reference to the Jay Nordlinger piece that told about the one sign by a Tea Party participant that apparently lead the way to the adoption of the term. Now I personally think that we should embrace the term simply to take the power from the Left but there is no way they were using the term as anything other than an intended insult. They could barely keep a straight face while uttering the word. I am going with the last laugh theory.

Cindy Munford on January 8, 2010 at 6:23 PM

…impressive grassroots response driven by righty blogs. 300 e-mails, according to the ombudsman, and phone calls every 10 minutes for two days. Populism-mania!

Good. Another example of how the “silent majority” won’t stay silent.

Someday they’ll learn that they aren’t the only side with an opinion in this country, and we just won’t take it lying down anymore.

tru2tx on January 8, 2010 at 6:24 PM

Yeah, I got an email response to my complaint. Fiore, who is from SAN FRANCISCO, was UNAWARE of the “sexual connotation” of ‘teabagging’.

Right.

There was also the little gem that the “satire” had been “fact checked” prior to posting. I suggested that the editor doing the “fact checking” might be better employed in the mail room. You know, a job commensurate with their actual abilities.

GarandFan on January 8, 2010 at 6:28 PM

But if NPR continues using Fiore, it should quickly find a cartoonist to counter his decidedly liberal take

Offensive material is fine; just be evenhanded about it.

Allahpundit on January 8, 2010 at 6:21 PM

Does this mean NPR and Allah believe in the fairness doctrine? (sarc/cough)

Rovin on January 8, 2010 at 6:30 PM

I agree with Allah that the best route is to just include more balanced speech but I wonder if they’d take the same tone if conservatives were calling liberals douche-bags?

If Fox commentators were regularly referring to those douche-bags on the left there would be outrageous outrage on every other media outlet at such a thing.

gwelf on January 8, 2010 at 6:30 PM

I wonder if they’d take the same tone if conservatives were calling liberals douche-bags?

gwelf on January 8, 2010 at 6:30 PM

I believe the term is “fisters”.

John the Libertarian on January 8, 2010 at 6:31 PM

They take our tax money and then make fun of us .Then have the nerve not apologize and then with the other hand tell all of us they want and need more of our money.The inmates are running the place.God help us.

thmcbb on January 8, 2010 at 6:34 PM

NPR could have easily avoided all the grief by not airing this garbage in the first place, but they went ahead and did it anyway without even giving a moment’s thought to the number of people that they were going to be directly and personally insulting.

For them to even half-heartedly apologize at this point is too little way too late.

For that reason, among many others, funding for NPR should be pulled and people should be urged to stop contributing to them.

pilamaye on January 8, 2010 at 6:34 PM

Probably the most important takeaway from this: A pretty impressive grassroots response driven by righty blogs…

And AP once said blogs didn’t make a difference…

JetBoy on January 8, 2010 at 6:35 PM

Learning to speak Teabag is much harder than learning to speak D-bag. D-bags have a pretty simple language. Many D-bags consistently speak using the same words and phrases over and over.

A typical D-bag conversation: Gimme your money, it’s for the children! Shut up. Racist! Gimme more of your money. Bush! Cheney! It’s not our fault! Gimme your money. Bush’s fault! Racist!
By learning these key phrases and words you too can speak fluent D-bag.

darwin on January 8, 2010 at 6:36 PM

I was surprised by this:

NPR does not receive direct funding from the federal government. Less than 2 percent of its annual budget comes from competitive grants from federally funded institutions. The rest of NPR’s budget comes from corporate sponsorship, foundation grants, investments and dues and programming fees paid by 901 independent public radio stations.

Comforting, as a taxpayer. I’ll take the ombudsman’s word for it.

RushBaby on January 8, 2010 at 6:37 PM

The real sin of the cartoon was that it wasn’t funny. I’m still waiting for an apology for that.

joe_doufu on January 8, 2010 at 6:38 PM

Allahpundit wrote:

But if you apply that principle, you give them cover to say they can’t run the Mohammed cartoons because Muslim taxpayers will be offended. Offensive material is fine; just be evenhanded about it.

Any danger of NPR doing to Islam what they routinely do to Christianity?

Any danger of even-handedness? Will Garrison Kellor begin mocking Sunis on “Desert Home Companion”?

Yeah, I won’t hold my breath waiting for that day.

They want to give Mark Steyn and Michelle Malkin a couple of one hour shows each week I’ll believe they are serious about being even-pinkied. They’ll never go for the whole hand.

Hyunchback on January 8, 2010 at 6:42 PM

I wonder if NPR Dems find this video funny? I doubt it. This is a POWERFUL message. Don’t know who put it together, but I found it masterful!

America Rising An Open Letter to Democrat Politicians

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=662R2awSwPQ

SoldiersMom on January 8, 2010 at 6:42 PM

Allah go to NPR and have Dr. Zero replace you…deal?

RobCon on January 8, 2010 at 6:46 PM

I particularly liked the argument that conservatives started it, because of a sign at a protest.

It is now perfectly reasonable, according to NPR, to judge all liberals based on a comment by Medea Benjamin, Ward Churchill, or Fred Phelps.

malclave on January 8, 2010 at 6:53 PM

But if you apply that principle, you give them cover to say they can’t run the Mohammed cartoons because Muslim taxpayers will be offended.

Allahpundit on January 8, 2010 at 6:21 PM

That’s fine with me. No tax dollars for opinions, period. Where is the public interest or necessity in having government sponsored speech anyway?

RINO in Name Only on January 8, 2010 at 6:53 PM

RobCon on January 8, 2010 at 6:46 PM

No, thank you. We need both of these gentlemen.

Cindy Munford on January 8, 2010 at 6:54 PM

RushBaby on January 8, 2010 at 6:37 PM

Hmm, if this is really true, I guess that’s mostly o.k (it would great if someone on the right could verify this). I say “mostly,” because how is that 2% justified at all? Can I get 2% funding for my right-wing newspaper?

RINO in Name Only on January 8, 2010 at 6:57 PM

A typical D-bag conversation: Gimme your money, it’s for the children! Shut up. Racist! Gimme more of your money. Bush! Cheney! It’s not our fault! Gimme your money. Bush’s fault! Racist!
By learning these key phrases and words you too can speak fluent D-bag.

darwin on January 8, 2010 at 6:36 PM

Team America World Police; the Alec Baldwin meltdown at the end.

Kim Jong Ill: Do something, Arec Barrwin!

Alec Baldwin: The… Global warming and… Corporate America…

Kim Jong Ill: You are worthress, Arec Barrwin.

http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/t/team-america-world-police-script.html
PRICELESS!

Roy Rogers on January 8, 2010 at 6:57 PM

The problem is that the clip is stupid, inaccurate and mean spirited. You don’t balance that – you avoid it, if you are a professional, but…

bagoh20 on January 8, 2010 at 7:07 PM

I look in the future, and see many, many Youtube videos of donkeys, blue game characters, many shooped with 0bama and other Democrats, getting “teabagged.”

Sekhmet on January 8, 2010 at 7:11 PM

Translation: Do you know how many hits we got off that shit? Yeah, we ain’t getting rid of it. So, suck it, teabaggers!

kagai on January 8, 2010 at 7:11 PM

Offensive material is fine; just be evenhanded about it.

Allahpundit on January 8, 2010 at 6:21 PM

This is exactly the point AP; Good satire should be offensive, on some level. That said, where is the equivalent mockery of the left?

massrighty on January 8, 2010 at 7:13 PM

The funniest part was the reference to Hitler, when in fact at the town hall meetings it was the far left La Rouche Democrats who held the Hitler signs.

Leave it to NPR to promote distortions.

jjrakman on January 8, 2010 at 7:14 PM

darwin, Cindy Munford, Robcon…, I love you!!!

elifino on January 8, 2010 at 7:15 PM

foundation grants, investments and dues and programming fees paid by 901 independent public radio stations.

RushBaby on January 8, 2010 at 6:37 PM

Just a little sleight of hand here; the “independent public radio stations” get federal money in the form of grants. So, it’s still our money, no matter what pocket they pull it out of.

massrighty on January 8, 2010 at 7:23 PM

RushBaby on January 8, 2010 at 6:37 PM

It was up in the Headlines today and this is what Stictnein wrote:

What I just don’t get, is if they, as they claim, only get 2% of their budget from “federally funded institutions”, why not take the high road and disavow all federal funding, whether direct or indirect?

The issue is that he’s playing a game. NPR is under the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The CPB gets $400 million a year directly from the feds. What does it do with those funds?

CPB provides some funding for PBS and NPR, but much more of its funding goes to public television and radio stations that are members of PBS or NPR, as well as to other broadcasters that are independent of those organizations.
So they don’t provide a lot of funding to the national NPR, they just provide a lot of funding to the stations that make up the PBS and NPR network of stations. In fact, 90% of that $400 million in fed money is given to stations across the country.

Overall the funding breakdown is:

Public broadcasting stations are funded by a combination of private donations from members, foundations and corporations (60.4% of 2006 total revenues of all stations), state and local taxes (22.2% of 2006 total revenues) and federal funds, principally through CPB (17.3% of 2006 total revenues).
So, almost 40% of the funding for these stations is from the government.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporation_for_Public_Broadcasting

strictnein on January 8, 2010 at 3:00 PM

journeyintothewhirlwind on January 8, 2010 at 7:25 PM

journeyintothewhirlwind on January 8, 2010 at 7:25 PM

Thank you. *tears hair out*

RushBaby on January 8, 2010 at 7:38 PM

Thank goodness we have AP to report this stuff 3 days after it hits the news. I don’t know what we’d do without him. Its almost like being dependent on the lame stream media, only it takes longer and you have to wait for the reporter to sober up.

Dwilkers on January 8, 2010 at 7:50 PM

I read through a lot of the comments to this piece on the NPR site. My favorite was a request for a cartoon on how to speak Sharpton… wonder how that would go over with the NPR crowd…hmmm.

kringeesmom on January 8, 2010 at 7:51 PM

Your welcome. And sorry about misspelling the handle strictnein.

journeyintothewhirlwind on January 8, 2010 at 8:03 PM

A typical D-bag conversation: Gimme your money, it’s for the children! Shut up. Racist! Gimme more of your money. Bush! Cheney! It’s not our fault! Gimme your money. Bush’s fault! Racist!
By learning these key phrases and words you too can speak fluent D-bag.

darwin on January 8, 2010 at 6:36 PM

That’s worth repeating. I guess we should throw a few “Halliburton! Blackwater!” rants in there too.
If the Right used labels like “Teabaggers” against the Left, the people who actually engage in the practice, like Barney Frank and Al Gore, would be accusing us of being Homophobic.

ronnyraygun on January 8, 2010 at 8:28 PM

Offensive material is fine; just be evenhanded about it. Allahpundit on January 8, 2010 at 6:21 PM

I have never understood this rationale. Why is it okay to be uncivil, as long as you’re uncivil with everyone? IMHO, we crossed a line of common respect a long time ago and we will never get it back. It shows in our pop culture and it shows in our political discourse.

hawkdriver on January 8, 2010 at 8:32 PM

Also, instead of trying to demonstrate NPR “balance” by comparing this Teabagger cartoon to the Mohammed cartoon, how about you compare the coverage of the Tea Party Movement to the Peace Movement. PBS and NPR almost champion the folks who engage in those so-called peace demonstrations, while very much showing their left-leaning bias against a group of Americans simply saying enough with the irresponsible handling of our taxes. How about a cartoon teaching how to speak to bandana wearing thugs at a peace demonstration. A cartoon of an angry hippie with a hanky tied around his ugly mug who be so, so funny.

hawkdriver on January 8, 2010 at 8:44 PM

I have never understood this rationale. Why is it okay to be uncivil, as long as you’re uncivil with everyone? IMHO, we crossed a line of common respect a long time ago and we will never get it back. It shows in our pop culture and it shows in our political discourse.

hawkdriver on January 8, 2010 at 8:32 PM

I do not want my tax money going to partisan purposes period. Whether it’s right, left, or both.

uknowmorethanme on January 8, 2010 at 8:50 PM

PBS and NPR have no business dabbling in politics.

uknowmorethanme on January 8, 2010 at 8:51 PM

hawkdriver on January 8, 2010 at 8:32 PM

You are the last person here I ever wanted to have even a civil, rational disagreement with, but here I go…

I took AP’s point to be that satire/comedy is nearly always offensive to someone – the joke is nearly always at someones’ expense.

Some of Ann Coulters’ words (or some of George Carlins’ have been harsh exemplars of an uncomfortable truth.

On the other hand, there’s a difference between biting satire and gratituosly offensive performances.

So, my own take is this; there’s room for satire; if it makes somen uncomfortable, so be it. There’s less room for the sort of “let’s push the envelope” vulgarity that does permeate the culture.

Where do we draw the line? That I don’t know.

And, Hawk, thank you for your service and sacrifice; each week, at my Church, we pray for you and your comrades in arms; that your missions may succeed.

massrighty on January 8, 2010 at 9:05 PM

Time for a tax payers line item veto. I’ll just start deducting my portion from my taxes.

jdkchem on January 8, 2010 at 9:45 PM

The near-record response proves that more balance is needed.

Oh, I remember the same thing was said when the entire set cheered when the ’92 election was called for Clinton. I won’t be holding my breath.

The comments though…good grief, the left is truly deranged. There’s no co-existence with these types, I’m afraid.

ddrintn on January 8, 2010 at 10:10 PM

uknowmorethanme on January 8, 2010 at 8:50 PM

I guess I wouldn’t think if it were a true unbiased forum for discussion, but the left rules PCS and NPR.

massrighty on January 8, 2010 at 9:05 PM

I don’t disagree. And if there were at least a balance in the “offensiveness”, I suppose it would be more palatable, but it never will be again. (No one I know can really hide their political leanings for very long when given the opportunity to air then)

But to the point of specifically what is being said or demonstrated, it seems like there is no longer a line drawn on what is over-the-top in being insulting. We all do it now and I think we’re poorer for it.

hawkdriver on January 8, 2010 at 10:20 PM

uknowmorethanme on January 8, 2010 at 8:50 PM

I guess I wouldn’t think if it were a true unbiased forum for discussion, but the left rules PCS and NPR.

huh?

Maybe I meant… “I guess I wouldn’t mind…”

Coffee.

hawkdriver on January 8, 2010 at 10:24 PM

Apologies from leftists are theater. Useless, or worse.

Hit them in the pocket, protest to the corporations being “socially conscious” by funding NPR’s continual leftist manure, if it is laced once and again with a contrary view. No Fairness Doctrine here, kids.

Not interested in whether the feds fund them, whoever does fund them needs a stiff kick to their rudder.

Harry Schell on January 8, 2010 at 10:25 PM

I’ll not hold my breath waiting for NPR to balance its reporting. I view them with the same disdain as I do MSNBC and others of the lame liberal biased media.

docdave on January 8, 2010 at 10:25 PM

But to the point of specifically what is being said or demonstrated, it seems like there is no longer a line drawn on what is over-the-top in being insulting. We all do it now and I think we’re poorer for it.

hawkdriver on January 8, 2010 at 10:20 PM

We agree, far more than we disagree…

As Joey Tribiani said “you’re so far over the line – you can’t even see the line – the line is a dot to you!”

You’re right; incivility gets in there, and we have to work extra hard to try to get back to civility.

massrighty on January 8, 2010 at 10:51 PM

You’re right; incivility gets in there, and we have to work extra hard to try to get back to civility.

massrighty on January 8, 2010 at 10:51 PM

Moonbats don’t understand “civility”. Total. Waste. Of. Time. I used to be optimistic as well, but the treatment dished out to Sarah Palin opened my eyes forever.

ddrintn on January 9, 2010 at 12:10 AM

Yeah, it was quite amusing when they claimed never to have hear of the sexual reference – guess they just missed ALL of the news on the subject for months and yet they consider themselves qualified to comment.

It is now perfectly reasonable, according to NPR, to judge all liberals based on a comment by Medea Benjamin, Ward Churchill, or Fred Phelps.

malclave on January 8, 2010 at 6:53 PM

Oh, I assure you, I do. If you talk to a hippie about Jews for long enough, they all start reminiscing about very large ovens, just like the “protesters” in Florida last year.

Merovign on January 9, 2010 at 12:58 AM

I listen to NPR until the first rise of the bile. Sour, folks! Then the second heave. Very sour, folks. Then the crappy music dey play makes me bile it up again, but the final bile erupts when the announcer cuts in. Then I beat the batteries out of my radio having barely managed to keep it down.
Then I do it again the next day so that I may know my enemy.
But bile rising is hard to deal with.
Ahh . . . the antacids do provide relief, and some go plop plop fizz fizz.

Sherman1864 on January 9, 2010 at 6:21 AM

Glad to be one of the 300 who sent the initial e-mail to the Ombudsman…

Khun Joe on January 9, 2010 at 9:16 AM

Thanks NPR for all the muhammad cartoons and criticism of Islam.
Keep up the good work!

Cybergeezer on January 9, 2010 at 9:41 AM

Does anyone besides me think that Garrison Keilor is an overrated, untalented and boring douche bag, or is it just me?

Lots of times when I do listen to NPR, it makes me laugh how a couple of idiots with a couple of degrees between them throw out a lot of 50cent words and the town drunk still has more common sense than they will ever manage. I call them overeducated s&^t heads. So SMART they’re stupid, on my dime no less……

adamsmith on January 9, 2010 at 2:13 PM

I didn’t like the dishonesty on the part of the ombudsman:

Repeatedly, I’ve heard people, such as Pete Wilson of Wiggins, MS, exclaim: “I refuse to have my tax dollars used for such an offensive slur.”

NPR does not receive direct funding from the federal government. Less than 2 percent of its annual budget comes from competitive grants from federally funded institutions. The rest of NPR’s budget comes from corporate sponsorship, foundation grants, investments and dues and programming fees paid by 901 independent public radio stations.

Notice the trickery here? She replies to the complaint of tax dollars being used to pay for this stuff by saying that NPR doesn’t receive direct funding from the fed, but admits that “independent” stations pay fees that support NPR.

Now, where do you think these “independent” member stations get their funding? That’s right, a large part of it comes from the federal govt and state governments via tax dollars!

The listener never claimed they were directly funded by the fed. govt. He just said tax dollars are used. Tax dollars are, indeed, used to pay for NPR. So why the obfuscation? And why call them “independent” stations for any reason than to imply they’re somehow independent of tax dollars?

Sorry, this is a fail. I don’t like to be lied to, no matter how small the lie is compared to the overall piece.

TheBlueSite on January 9, 2010 at 6:00 PM

As long as they put the other side on, I’m cool with it…Well, as cool as I can be with them using my tax dollars on something so unConstitutional as spending money on an unConstitutional program.

Tim Burton on January 9, 2010 at 7:57 PM