Sunday, January 16, 2011

NPR and the Recurring Blindspot

I mentioned NPR being one of the media venues to report on my C-SPAN2 appearance (about eighteen minutes into the podcast of the show).  They were also one of the few to flagrantly misreport part of the story, saying my old joke personals ad (a thinly-veiled essay about the importance of avoiding crazy women) was written in response to the ex with whom I sparred on C-SPAN2.  Nope.  Written almost two years before I met her (for all the good it did). 

NPR might well argue that I have only myself to blame for their erroneous reporting -- and for the really nasty, whiny tone of the comedian-reader who read a partial transcript of my C-SPAN2 comments -- since they called to invite me to be on and I didn't respond (swamped as I was with inquiries and a real job at the same time, one that was more time-consuming and restrictive yet less remunerative than my current activities, not that I'm complaining for one moment; it's all good).  Too, it was their weekly comedy show Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me, which has roughly the same journalistic standards as The Daily Show (which I don't mean in an entirely negative way). 

Further, that NPR show (as far as I know) is the only venue, aside from the Daily Caller (which started the viral replication of the C-SPAN2 clip), to whom my ex did talk about the incident (her voice being heard briefly at the end of the piece revealing that our C-SPAN2 spat was Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me's real news story of the week, from their traditional multiple-choice quiz of stories that might be true).  She presumably wisely decided that giving a ten-second comedy soundbite was far safer than having to reveal all the ugly details of her behavior in a serious interview, though I'm frankly surprised she dared talk to anyone about it. 

Once she proved willing to talk to them, NPR may well have followed the unwritten (and to some degree subconscious) rule that you treat willing sources more kindly than people who won't talk, even though my silence was partly mercy-driven, as is the extremely gentle tone of this month's blog entries.  If the ex says, as she did to the Daily Caller, that she now has a "policy" against discussing her personal life, I'll avoiding divulging any more than I already have (I decided as the inquiries started coming in that I wouldn't dredge up more details if she didn't). 

But as for the info I already have divulged: I can't help wondering whether the NPR comedy folks just happily chuckled their way through some questions to the ex about whether she really did things like play matchmaker for a couple even while explicitly planning months in advance to break them up later and seduce the man just for kicks.  "Now that's comedy!  OK, so we'll make your ex-boyfriend sound like a little whiner who must just have been grousing about nothing during your appearance together -- certainly nothing that raises questions about the nature of your conservative moral philosophy -- because he's pining to get a great gal like yourself back!" 

I worry a bit that most people's capacity to block out disturbing information is so great that you could basically tell them that, say, your quirky neighbor has several odd objects in his backyard, and if one of the objects you listed was a severed human hand, they'd just sort of "let that one slide" so that they could think about more comforting items from the list -- bent rakes, gaudy lawn furniture, etc. -- and could thus avoid having to wonder about unpleasant criminal implications (possibly even faulting you for gross talk about human hands).  Ah, well.  I report, you decide, America -- sociopathic, short-attention-span-possessing, indifferent, laff-lovin' America. 

But Tuesday: back to the PUA guys, then a few more C-SPAN2-inspired entries and on to new topics.

P.S. By the way, if NPR really wants simultaneously to promote progressive values, create comedy, and avoid judging bad behavior, perhaps Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me should consider hiring that homeless sportscaster.  Gotta say there were some subtle warning signs in this article, among others.  But, again, I'm rooting for everyone to pull themselves together, I really am.

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