Monday, March 31, 2008

Repeat After Me: Juice Is Sexy, Juice Is Sexy

Dabbling with NPR is a hazardous business, so I often try to keep things superficial, otherwise grim rage becomes dominant. So, to keep things light and fluffy, I frequently notice form rather than content (as content is usually a lost cause). I tend to notice HOW things are said and not necessarily WHAT things are said. I know, it's a perverted form of amusement, but I swear, I don't put as much time or effort into this as it sounds.

Well, it seems that lately, many of the NPR lifers have been told to juice up their manner of speaking. You know, to get all emotional and affected in order to bring 'interest' to a segment on, say, the Fed's strategy for regulating title insurance restrictions on two-year guarantee loans made on leap-year days, or whatever. NPR wants to retain its 'serious' reputation, but with a sexier guise, so as to keep the SUV-ers transfixed with 'driveway moments', before hauling ass in the Mall.

People like Inscreep and Renee de la Mon-tayyne perform a whole routine to keep our attention, feigning amazement, speaking in 'valley' cadences, and general motormouth tricks of the cheapest kind. Most of the 'experts' they interview go along with their act, but when someone like Helen Mirren shows up, it doesn't take much to expose how ditzy/dopey (or if you prefer, dopey/ditzy) Renee comes off as, and Ms Mirren was the model of understatement and kindness.

Anyway, there's a BushCorp/Condi quality to this business that grates and gets in the way of what information radio is supposed to be about: access to said information.
To me this increased affectation junk is all just bad acting (in a media source that should confine acting, bad or otherwise, to feature shows), and it is representative of the what the NPR powers that be want in order to boost ratings, in order to satisfy corporate sponsor expectations (duh, just like in commercial radio, ya think??).

Conversely, I heard a segment this morn from our old reliable Parisian gamine, Eleanor B.(eardsley) of Aquitaine, that gave me a start. In her little piece there was practically NO affectation - none of her bizarre misfires of delivery - just flat phrases. No champagne bubbles or boulevardier fun. Nothing. Eleanor! Are you ill? Tired? Or did you get a talking to: to knock off the cutesy crap? Sadly, without her gimmick, EB is just a bore, enough to make you snap off the radio and head on in to Macy's.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Definition of a Defining Moment

I can't imagine a more worthless source for truthful information about Iraq than Nonfunctioning Public Radio. Fox News is worse of course (if not synonymous), but at least you know where they stand. NPR attempts to play the game of 'safe' cleverness, so that they'll be taken seriously. Boy, how they crave the prestige.

And what the hell is with this 'defining moment' crap? OK, it's just another Luntzy product from BushCorp. But why would any thinking person take such a vague statement seriously? Just the fact that the media repeats such a banal pronouncement with a straight face is enough to invalidate any news source's credibility. And now, with NPR's new gals (Dina+Lourdes) delivering steady-voiced updates about the New Iraq from Bombproof Vault #345, deep beneath the billion dollar US Embassy, and with a 'less emotional' and fully-clothed Annie G. to guide them, their team's putting the propaganda back into NPR with a capital 'P'.

(NOTE: I think it was Susan Steeammberg who made it clear though, that Our Lady of Lourdes had indeed been 'on the streets of Baghdad' or somewhere or other, just so Lourdes’ statement that those streets were deserted could be taken as a sort of eyewitness fact. I found it interesting that the anchor in DC would make a statement that the reporter on the scene (or in the general region) should be making. Hell, I could make the same statement just by using Google Earth...)

NPR should just stick to doing feature shows and leave the hard edge reporting to other, more independent agencies. I don’t care if this was an extremely liberal administration and NPR was spinning things to the left all the time. The truth is the truth, and NPR is in the thrall of non-truth and truthiness. They aren’t valid enough to do the job, and they’ve proven it, time and again.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Splurge Before The Flood

I'm finally hearing some references in the media that, yes indeed, since the Surge, there has been a significant gap in on-the-ground Iraq coverage. Uh, I noticed that in the first weeks, folks. No wonder Winter Soldier testimonies are being repressed. Things are shitty in Iraq and everyone knows it, but won't say so because everybody's waiting to see what Bush does while he still has a chance. Fasten your seatbelts: Admiral Fallon's out, Spitzer's no longer in the way to thwart bank robber Bernanke, and there's still 8 gruesome months to pull some nasty surprises out of the sewer.

Check out Greg Palast's report on the Spitzer/Bernanke caper:

Meanwhile, the Neocons, quiet and industrious of late, are futzing with a majestic playbook of wetdream dimensions (which is probably the only sex they ever get: self-inflicted). Boxes of toxic bon bons are circulating amongst them, containing the following: 1) Greenlighting imminent for Operation Take Back Iran. A no-brainer. 2) Full speed ahead in foundation work on Operation Take Back China - via covert infiltration from the Afghan/Pak corridor, which will set the west of China ablaze, spreading to the South China Sea; thus, Taipei is poised to return in triumph to the Forbidden City.

OHMIGAWD! Brilliant, brilliant, Field Marshal Perle!

OK, doughty Neocons, wash-up now! Nighty-night!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Impatience of the Chattering Classes

This morning on that show they sensibly call 'Morning Edition', I heard relentlessly upbeat Renee interview an Iraqi fellow in Baghdad who works for NPR, describing life in the city 5 years after the invasion. I got the sense that he wanted to gush with all the bloody details, but knowing NPR as he no doubt does, and knowing of their hi-tech editing skills, he delivered a pretty much G-rated rundown. Toward the end he was sufficiently warmed up to start gushing, but that's when the editing no doubt kicked in. When he mentioned a detail regarding a tiny improvement of some kind, Renee responded with something like: 'Well, then things are just a LITTLE better, aren't they?' As if, 'What have you REALLY got to whine about, you poor thing? Raw, untreated sewage is no longer drying in the street. Can't you just be happy with that?', and it was delivered with all the slightly bemused impatience of a Bev Hills soccer mom who's tut-tutting her Filipina nanny for being five minutes late so that she can rush off to the mall.

I don't need this crap. I want my news delivered soberly and without all this 'magazine' approach. I know this is 'NPR Critique 101' stuff, but I'm getting demoralized again.

I'd really like to see how Renee would handle her trips to the mall if LA were being bombed daily and occupied by invading troops. I know, it's a banal comparison (warfare of a different kind exists in LA, don't we know), but her ditziness, so willingly and proudly displayed, is wholly representative of her type and class.

Because of their increasing exclusivity of audience targeting, NPR should be banished to the wilderness of satellite radio, where it can atrophy and thus expire. Even Murdoch wouldn't bother with that.

Monday, March 17, 2008

At NPR, The Hits Just Keep On Coming . . .

If anyone was able to slog through two hours of prizewinning fussbudget Ari Shapiro's drainpipe voice on Sunday, they would have to conclude that this guy has taken it upon himself to be an apologist for the US 're-invention' of Iraq. Substituting for Auntie Liane, Amazing Ari proves that he's pretty darn diverse. Why, he's all over the map, going to plays, bopping over to Baghdad, and hell, doin' the Sunday breakfast gig as easily as gossiping up on the Hill. Yes, Ari's got the makins' of an NPR superstar. But that voice! That awful, awful, NPRepugnant voice! Can't the engineers de-tweak it so that he doesn't sound like he's talking through a 89-cent crystal-set mike? And that talking! Jabber-jabber-jabber! He almost beats out Inscreep in the speaking-faster-than-he-can-
think department. Oh, but Ari's far more brilliant, isn't he? Thus, the haughty confidence. That sickening confidence that got him busted for his trademark snottiness-that-passes-for-
journalism that FAIR pointed out recently. Can a Dan Schorr prize be revoked?
I'm happy to announce though, that I didn't suffer through all two hours of Ari's spring fling garden party. I couldn't do that to my dog, who looked at me as if, 'you are one sick puppy, man!'
After Ari's chummy little giggle with Nina the T, my dog threatened to lift his leg over the radio. A walk with him in the non-NPR fresh air cured everything.

OK, OK, one more thing: again, again, again, I just have to carp about that troublesome Eleanor Beardsley person, who's been popping up disturbingly often recently, despite some other more normalish reporter covering things France-ish.
E.B. sounds like some busted up plastic doll (that still thinks it's cute) to be found in a yard sale's 'FREE' bin, with a pull string that recites goofy lines about French people in a wobbly voice that doesn't know what notes to hit.
Of course, since she's describing the antics of those wacky Frenchies, what better than Ellie Bea to deliver their news with clownish dreariness? 'Thiszis Ellleneknyorr Beeaerdleah en Paaareeass...' (Did that transliteration really work?)

You know, if some of these NPR-oids really had style and class, like distinctive voices such as Katherine Hepburn or even Jimmy Breslin, it would be one thing, but NPR gets these not-even-ready-for-hammy-acting types, and their 'creative' journalism sucks, too. We as a public deserve much, much better, don't we? Of course, I blame NPR management for letting this bozo patrol get out on the air, but when it's stacked with BushCorp flunkies, there's no accounting for taste.

OK, pretty superficial stuff to complain about, but I ask you, where the hell does NPR GET all this lousy, lousy - really lousy - on-air 'talent'? Probably from the offspring of CEOs, and other power people in bed with NPR who have journalistic stars in their eyes... or whatever. In Britain, 'public' schools are really the very private, elitist establishments that take care of their own. National 'Public' Radio is actually a similarly elitist (well, middle-to-upper class) outfit that only cares about itself. Thus, my battle cry: Rupert - take what is rightfully yours: NPR!!