Merging Memories – NPR, Fox & the memories they create

Our family has trouble with memories, mine is beginning. I figured Trump had exaggerated (as usual) but I, too, remembered,  celebrations (it was all foggy – I couldn’t remember if it was New York or New Jersey – they are all east).  Apparently, my memory has failed- probably merging reports of alleged “tailgate parties” with film from Palestine, as some have suggested he did, Carson did.  But I do remember listening to NPR in my office, leaving to teach and coming back to hear more of what had happened. 

For a while, they did a call-in show, but some of the vitriol was stunning.  One (and the  hit in the gut was strong enough I’m pretty sure this memory is true) said this might make Americans pause (in what?  in their arrogance, I guess, certainly we hadn’t attacked anyone yet) but we would, like a dog, return to our vomit.  The Biblical allusion, the voice – they were local, probably, New Yorkers.  After all, who is the NPR audience?  Well-read Americans more often than immigrants.  But I could believe worse of Muslim immigrants, hearing, as I did, an American with that level of anger and distance from his own. Fox’s reflective emphasis on heroism and NPR’s on American shame changed my perspective quickly.  It took me years to enjoy Limbaugh, which I now do on the rare occasions I hear him (NPR did get drive time) but the evolution in taste started, as so much for many of us, did.

In November, I visited family, finding my middle daughter and sister (with some gentle kidding from their husbands) rely almost totally, as I did for so long, on NPR. It is often well done, the narratives are interesting, the topics broad.  Precious and leftist, it does entertain.  It promotes a certain elitist disdain that can be unattractive, but both are sweeter than most (certainly than I).

Still I can’t deal with NPR, certainly not with my friend’s energy who does listen but sends off frequent e-mails of fact checking and critiques.  (She is an idealist – she thinks she can improve the world and she does more than most; in addition, she sees it as her Christian duty and her civic duty – they do use our taxes.)

I realize I should broaden my thinking from Fox; my husband reads the WSJ, which is somewhat broader but probably not much.  On the other hand, the daughter’s husband, who reads the NYT while she listens to the radio, seemed repeatedly surprised at my allusions to events he didn’t know happened.  That’s the effect of the establishment media – those critiques often require listening to Fox, reading WSJ, seeing other media.

And that’s why the millenials are likely to think that Truth and Trumbo and the award to the martyred Rosenbergs and God knows what else are, well, reality.  That’s why they can wear Che shirts without shame or think that Warren’s economics will help the poor.  They don’t know history and what they really don’t know that the appropriate form isn’t that Wilson was a progressive but also a racist: he was a progressive, so therefore a racist.

But then, how did I think?  All those years NPR played in the background at my little business.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt with an academic clientele; I doubt Rush would have gone over all that well.  But what is, somewhat foggy, now in my mind?  In the stream of employees’ minds (students working part time, a few full) forced to listen to it for 13 years, usually 10-15 each semester?  I suspect it entertained, it informed, and I fear it molded.


25 thoughts on “Merging Memories – NPR, Fox & the memories they create”

  1. I sound like a broken record on this topic (Do young people know what broken record sounds like? I doubt it.) but I really think the best thing we could do for the future of the United States is dissolve the public school system as it now exists and replace them with private schools and vouchers. These are state run, so easier said than done. But our primary and secondary education systems are the root of our problems. I’m astounded by the complete lack of historical or economic knowledge in young people. They have no idea how even our own government is supposed to function. And we wonder at the chaos and idiocy we see around us. This is the fruit.

  2. And my memory of 14 years ago is dim as well. I definitely recall the Paleostonians cheering. I seem to recall it happening here as well.

  3. Interestingly the conservative new blogs often link to NYT, WaPo, and NPR on issues but also on general interest stories. I live outside of NYC but get the NY Post delivered having dropped the Times years ago. Ignoring the news/political stuff, I’ve found I get much better cultural (arts and entertainment) information from the Post than the Times. The Post’s movie and theater reviewers are much less political than the Times as they are focused on will you enjoy the show not is it politically correct. Ditto for restaurant and event coverage.

    I try on long road trips to listen to NPR but the smarmy tone drives me off rapidly.

  4. And leave it to dishonest hacks like Colbert to make one-sided attacks over this.

    Mock republicans along with our president for being afraid of women and children and refugees – even after the female Paris suicide bomber, and numerous ISIS threats

    Mock Trump and republicans (OK, Jeb deserves most of it) – but never democrats.

    Mocking Trump specifically over the “dancing in the streets” stuff, and “I wrote about Bin Laden being an upcoming big threat.”

    OK, maybe in the ME and not in NY – but they certainly DID dance, and that’s an uncomfortable truth that gets avoided. And Yes, we had the Cole, and WTC1 as warnings, but who in 2000 was beating the drum about the ongoing threat of AQ? Few were – I was one, as I recognized the Cole for what it was, not an act of terrorism but an act of war.

    But the country? Asleep. The security services? Asleep. The administrations? Asleep.

    So yes, there were reasons to believe AQ and BL had not given up – but it wasn’t the common view in the media.

    But let’s bash Trump, or any conservative, rather than remember the painful truth of how asleep most of us were by 9/11

  5. I bailed on NPR after … when was it? Around the 2008 election season, I think. I realized, with horror, how very selective they were in how they covered stories, and in the one-sided political slant in their choice of chosen experts — especially when it came to coverage of the Tea Party. I bailed on Garrison Keillor and Prairie Home Companion earlier, although I had been a dedicated fan for years. GK’s contempt for flyover country, small-town conservatives was just so nasty and overt, I couldn’t take it any more.

    I don’t do news or talk radio any more — nor TV news and commentary. Internet – various news and commentary websites.

  6. I would have called NPR “Smug Radio”.

    The ‘news’, in quote marks for a reason, is selective, slanted, and tinted by the narrator. There is always the ‘poor, single mom, making on a shoe-string’ in need of this, that and the other that the Nasty Republicans(tm) will take away at the soonest opportunity. Those mean, rich, greedy people! Who are they to think they should keep the earnings of their sweat and time! These poor people need it more!
    NEVER is there a word of good advice such as Thomas Soul and others have suggested: Don’t get pregnant, Finish high school, and Ummh, I’m old, but I think it is get a job. 90% success if you follow that Rx.
    When I hear ‘single mom’, I think selfish, self-centered, and un-thinking, and have small doses of compassion. My wife was a single mom, and made it on her own, with zero help from any government agency.
    Being in one category or another does NOT qualify a person to take the wealth earned by others. If anything, it should be given freely without reserve, but that’s not the NPR way. Tell a story where someone makes good with Government cheese…
    I find it repulsive. So many lives are wasted, narrow, waiting for the handout rather than standing on their own and actually doing something. No, never ever a feeling of accomplishment. “I DID that.” Not the fricken government… They sell pap.

  7. Ginny,

    Fear not.

    My name is Mrs. Davis I too was a naive NPR listener for years. But mainly as a result of listening to classical music which was the primary format of NPR stations in my youth. All Things (Ill-)Considered was the only news or talk show back in the day and was acceptable non-commercial news indistinguishable from the NYTCBSNBCABC establishment line.

    My suspicions were aroused regarding many things when the commercial classical alternatives to NPR such as WFLN, WBAL, WCAO and WGMS were driven off the air by their non-profit competition, followed, after a decent interval, by the expansion of more clearly slanted talk radio on the NPR victors. In markets where commercial classical lasted longer NPR went the acquisition route instead, now owning or controlling WQXR, WCRB, WFMT and KDFC, for example. Thanks to the advent of satellite radio I can now have non-NPR alternatives and can listen to Fox News or Johnny Dollar anywhere when driving. We still listen to Mourning Edition as I can’t take commercials in the morning, but more for Bird Notes than the news. And we really listen to it more like soldiers listened to Tokyo Rose and Lord Haw-Haw in WWII. Good to know what the enemy is thinking.

    But all is not well in NPRland. Now it’s just a network of old left wing farts that no one under 50 would be caught dead listening to. The times have changed again.

    So as we both escaped the gravitas of NPR I doubt it gained much of a hold on the minds of your employees of comparable intelligence.

  8. I watched and listened to a lot of news 9/11 and in the aftermath, and have no recollection of celebrations being reported in the US. Overseas, yes, and apparently quite large. I’m sure there were some in the US but I remember no reports. I was a bit surprised when reading commentary on Trump’s statements from John Hinderaker at Powerline that there had been even a tidbit of a mention of them. They were still far from ‘thousand and thousands’ of people and seen on TV.

    This is my biggest problem with Trump. It’s fine that he says controversial things (Would that more GOP candidates did the same. Cruz did a good job calling out Obama over his refugee comments.) but the controversial things Trump says are usually weapons-grade *stupid*.

  9. I remember news and blog reports around 9/11 about informal public celebrations in neighborhoods near NYC and perhaps elsewhere where Arab immigrants lived. I don’t know if the reports were accurate or mere unsubstantiated rumors. I’m guessing some were accurate but I don’t know. But that there were such reports I have no doubt.

    Memory is funny. People forget, and even when they remember, events subsequent to the remembered events tend to change people’s memories. People said they would never forget 9/11, but by now 9/11 is almost a generation ago and many people appear indeed to have forgotten, while others who are now adults were then too young to remember anything.

  10. Several of you made a point that was also true – as background music at a service business, the other hours – classical, Performance Today, and jazz (locally we had some locals who did shows free that liked jazz and big band) were pleasant and useful. Mrs. Davis nicely filled in some holes – I didn’t know what had happened nationally. Locally (ours is a small outlet) things changed as well. For a time the local manager was also the local Republican chair (or some equivalent) and they did open programs to the community though I don’t remember those being political.

    I always appreciated those local shows: my husband and a friend did a country/bluegrass/old timey (with a mandatory John Prine) each week; the local Rabbi and an English dept. friend who had a divinity degree did a show on Sunday mornings that reviewed movies and talked culture. Those shows aren’t as common and the station that began to offer such opportunities for unpaid work was doing Hightower when even Austin wasn’t.

  11. 100 years ago, we turned out educated students from one room schoolhouses with mixed grades, taught by a teacher who was often a young unmarried lady with no particular degree. Those students could read, write, calculate, find Abyssinia on a map, discuss history, and recite poetry.
    We could do the same today. I have long believed local schools , about 100 student enrollment, in simple buildings close to the homes with a few teachers would be far less expensive and far more effective in producing competent citizens than our current system.

    The school system as it functions today is exactly the same as the rest of government- it is there to serve themselves. Any education that occurs is strictly optional and likely accidental.
    It is, however, a nearly perfect way to ensure an army of indoctrinated serfs. Led, perhaps, by new officers fresh from having their student loans forgiven.

  12. “a teacher who was often a young unmarried lady with no particular degree. ”

    Hey, that’s my grandmother you’re talking about. I’ll have you know after graduating 8th grade she spent two years in “normal school” getting a teaching certificate, which qualified her to lead that one room schoolhouses with mixed grades you refer to. Which career she continued until she fell for a WWI hero back from “The Great War”, and married to start her own family.

    She also spent the summer of 1961 teaching me to read (age four). Phonics. Can, Man, Pan …

    When I attended the old school house in 1963 the district has installed a vinyl curtain to divide the space into TWO rooms — grades 1 thru 4 on the East and 5-8th on the West. We first graders, Boomers, had a class of five.
    To balance the grades a bit the teacher moved me into 2nd grade a few weeks after start of the year. (I was a bit of a discipline problem, distracting other first graders, and by that point had already read all sixty some books on the shared bookshelves)

    ANYhow, the point is, that the education model being described here is not lost in the mists of history, but resident in living memory. It would not, I think, be hard to resurrect.

  13. Yes, those one-room school houses were great. And there is a strength to the class D ones (Nebraska has been slow to consolidate – with the virtues of keeping small schools and keeping small towns alive). My niece and her husband wanted their children to go to the school they did, so built in the country on a family homestead. He’s a pharmacist, but preferred the drive for that connection (there aren’t positions for a pharmacist in the town 5 generations of us have graduated from – the first my grandmother over a century ago, who also became one of those one-room schoolhouse teachers). His son is now applying with success to med school. Parents know what their kids are learning and who is disrupting class, etc. in those schools. Most play sports (practically all do one), are in the class play, learn an instrument, sing a song.

  14. I never developed a taste for NPR and long ago lost interest in public TV as well. I just viscerally resent being talked down to, especially by adenoidal kids who as soon as they open their mouths prove that they don’t know 1/10 what I do about anything they talk about. And it’s not that I think I am some sort of genius or uniquely knowledgeable–outside my field, I am nothing special, and even in my field I’m just one of the crowd. But they are all idiots and prove it before the first break, every time.

    I mean, I’m all for mindless entertainment, in its place, but mindless lecturing?

    Face it, journalism is a vast wasteland and you have to pick through it very carefully to find anything of value. Very carefully.

  15. “I seem to recall it happening here as well.”

    Ann Althouse has a theory that Trump has video of some of the things he said he saw and is waiting until the Democrats get really far out on the limb calling him a liar.

    I don’t know. I know there were some celebrations and “thousands” may be an exaggeration but the left gets away with a hell of a lot more.

  16. For those interested, Jerry Pournelle and his wife have edited and republished the California 1914 Sixth Grade Reader.

  17. I live in the Colorado Rockies, where one-room schools were common. A couple of years ago, I was at a garage sale in what was an old mining town in a neighboring county and found and bought a 4th grade textbook from the 1890’s that was used in that town. I got it because I was amused by the notes written in it back and forth by a boy and girl. But the book itself had arithmetic and simple geometry problems that high school kids would have trouble with today. And they had a section on Latin. And another on beginning Greek.

    4th freaking grade.

    Kids today who get an education get it in spite of the schools rather than because of them. Because if someone learns something, it makes the others look bad. Can’t have that. And it makes the teachers who cannot teach look bad, so the teaching “professionals” and administrators make excuses for the failures and quash those who succeed.

  18. Fred Reed recently wrote one of his wonderfully acerbic columns on teaching kids- He describes teaching his daughter to read and I had to smile- it was, give or take, the exact same method I used- kids are just little sponges- they LOVE to learn-and it’s FUN! There is almost nothing that a little kid does not find fascinating, as long as the adult has time to spend with them and explain things- Like grocery shopping- I loved to go grocery shopping with my daughter- there are strange and weird things in the grocery store- ever take a good hard look at a starfruit or a pineapple?
    The decline in education really stares one in the face when reading excerpts from a time past- I wish I could write half as well as the high school grads of 1900.
    It is baffling to the point of incredulity that an organization could screw up one of the most basic impulses we have. How on earth did they ever burn that fire out?

    As an aside, and because it has a certain relevance to today world, I am currently reading “Retreat from Kabul”, by Patrick Macrory, about the disastrous British expedition of the 1840’s. A revealing depiction of just how serious waffling, waiting and a Pollyanna world view can be. I am particularly fond of “Lady Sales” accurate and courageous comments in her journal. What a woman! Too bad she was not in command. Of all the possible candidates for political and military leadership for the expedition, the British somehow managed to pick the very worst, even, in some cases, over the objections of the candidates themselves. To give due credit, however, feckless as some were, they still failed from lack of competence, and not from treason.

  19. “the book itself had arithmetic and simple geometry problems that high school kids would have trouble with today.”

    When I was about 12, I found my older cousin’s high school “World History” textbook and read it cover to cover. He had graduated in 1938 from high school.

    It began with the Doric invasion of Greece (Sorry I had to add “of Greece” just in case) then went on to the three Punic Wars. It went up to the early 1920s and ended about there.

    It read like a novel and I think I read it twice. Unfortunately, when I went off the college, it was left at home and eventually disappeared after my parents sold the house. I wish I had it and I have made some effort to find a similar book in used book sites but no luck.

    There are some objections to the 1890s era books since not everyone went through 8 years of school but in 1938 just about everyone graduated from high school, at least in the North.

  20. That’s why they can wear Che shirts without shame..

    I have a Che T-shirt to which I have added the following: “Si sis hincha de Che, sos pelotudo sin cerebro,” In Argie-speak, that would be, “If you are a Che fan, you are a brainless idiot [actually less polite].” In the years I have worn the annotated Che T-shirt, in a town with a lot of Spanish speakers, only one person has commented. [OTOH, not many here are familiar with Spanish as spoken in Argentina.]

    I stopped listening to NPR news back in the ’80s. I started voting third party for President in 1980. When I listened to the results of the 1984 elections, I was listening from a somewhat neutral point of view, as I voted neither Pub nor Demo. The disdain, the scorn in the tone of the announcer in discussing Reagan’s victory was rather obvious. Had I voted Demo, I probably wouldn’t have noticed, but as a neutral observer expecting equal treatment of both Mondale and Reagan from a PUBLIC radio station, the announcer’s tone was detectable for me. That was the beginning of the end of NPR news for me.

    My local NPR station had a lot of excellent locally produced music shows- rather idiosyncratic. Over the years, they have been replaced with the canned national shows. Which is why I no longer listen to the local NPR station- nor contribute any more.

    In any event, I no longer listen to radio of any kind. My extensive CD collection, acquired at bargain basement prices, suffices for music. News- Internet.

  21. Anecdotes about skoolin’?

    I have a few.

    When I was about ten I found a used high school history textbook at a church sale, published about 1970. If I recall a student had written in the election results for 1972, so obviously not after that. It was a very readable and adult book, plainly intended to educate young citizens about the history of their country. It referenced such now-obscure events as a US-German confrontation over Samoa, and included many political cartoons, including some that would surely cause today’s precious flowers to curl up into a little ball, sobbing. I loved that book and I still have it today.

    About the same time I obtained a copy of Robert Heinlein’s book Expanded Universe, which had quite a few non-fiction essays. In it, Heinlein complained that the students of the time weren’t up to the standards of his youth. He included such evidence as letters written by people with sixth grade educations which demonstrated literacy far exceeding that of most college graduates Heinlein was familiar with, thanks to his fan mail. He noted the quality had degenerated over his writing career. That book was published in 1980, and I can only imagine how awful the writing would be today.

    Fast forward a few years. I get to eighth grade history class. The textbook we are given had very large type, exactly one photo, short chapters, and if I recall only about 250 pages. Pathetic. Any time the teacher wanted to make any complicated point we’d go grab the old textbooks from a pile by the windows. They were about six hundred pages of small type. That teacher, by the way, was a machine-gunner in Vietnam. I wonder how many teachers today could put that sort of thing on their resume.

    Much later, I’m in a used book store. I find a high school thermodynamics textbook from the 1930s, with a student name and grade. Flipping through it, I get rather irate because I had recently paid boku bucks to get taught that subject at a kommunity kollege, which never quite got around to covering all the same bases with any rigor, if they were covered at all. I also recall page after page of 093 level English classes, intended to teach high graduates the basics of readin’ and writin’, because they hadn’t learned it well enough to attend community college and pass a class that would actually give them credit towards graduation.

    Sad. This is what civilizational decline looks like, in my community college educated opinion.

  22. FWIW, I listen regularly to our local NPR station, KUOW, and irregularly do critiques of one of their programs, Weekday. I find the mistakes and bias on the program help me understand how our “mainstream” journalists are failing.

    As for Limbaugh, I have almost completely given up on him, now that he is backing Trump. In 2008, I was astonished to see a number of libertarians (and even a few consrvatives) backing Obama. They had to ignore most of his political past, I thought.

    Similarly, a conservative who backs Trump has to ignore what Trump has done most of adult life. Now it is possible that, in his 60’s, that Trump had a conversion on, for example, abortion — but that isn’t the way to bet. Far more likely is that Trump doesn’t believe much of what he says.

    (I suppose I should do a post on this some time, and may get to it as early as Monday.)

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