Jan 192012
 

Edward Schumacher-Matos
Ombudsman
National Public Radio
635 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Mr. Schumacher-Matos:

Last October during the fundraising campaign for my local NPR station, WUSF, the host of NRP affiliated shows “World of Opera” and “Soundprint” was fired from those shows based largely on objections by Fox News personalities due to her involvement in the occupy movement. I spoke with people at the local station as I reconsidered my support of the station. I do not support Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News network, and if NPR was going to allow Murdoch’s organization to make programming decisions, then you were effectively acting as a Fox News affiliate. That would be something I could not tolerate.

I was encouraged to write NPR at the time, but elected to let that one pass without further comment. However, two recent stories aired on NPR raise far more serious concerns in my mind about reporting decisions at NPR.

Let me start by saying I have been a listener/member/supporter of NPR and local NPR affiliates for twenty-five years or more. I listen throughout the day, into the evenings, and most certainly on the weekends. The voices of NPR have been a comforting, stable presence in my life as I’ve moved from the Greensboro/Winston-Salem, NC area, to Tampa, FL, to Dayton, OH and back to Tampa. Through some good times and dark times in my life, I’ve been able to tune in to find outstanding reporting, thoughtful analysis and commentary, and wonderful music. As both the federal and state governments have moved to cut funding for public radio, I have always been a person who writes and calls my congressional representatives and legislative representatives insisting they support this very worthy cause.

Unfortunately, last Friday I heard a report on Morning Edition by Barbara Bradley Haggerty concerning the confab by religious conservatives in Texas. Ms. Bradley-Haggerty interviewed Brian Fischer of the American Family Association (AFA) for the story. The AFA has recently been designated a Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) due to some extremely vile and often violent language used against gays and lesbians, women, and Native Americans. Most of this language come directly from Mr. Fischer.

I called and talked with Ms. Bradley-Haggerty about the story. This conversation raised even more concerns about Ms. Bradley-Haggerty’s ability to report impartially on Christian-based stories.

First, I recognize she needs someone to interview. According to her account, she was on deadline, had put out about 20 calls and Fischer was the first to return her calls. This strikes me as a poor way to select interviewees. I went on to question her use of Mr. Fischer pointing out that the AFA was an SPLC designated hate group, and that she had never identified the AFA as such. She got rather prickly at this observation, and responded that it would be ridiculous because, “The SPLC names many organizations as hate groups.”

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.