Tuesday, June 06, 2006

 

More Public Radio

Gerard Baker, writing at Real Clear Politics, reports on moves by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to establish a 24 hour news channel in the American market.

Think American media is already partisan, left-leaning, and hopelessly arrogant in its perception of the American public? They have nothing on the BBC, according to Baker:

To the BBC's editors and reporters America is a country of backward, grass-chewing, Bible-toting religious fundamentalists, ignorant of almost everything that goes on beyond their shores. Americans are obese, gun-wielding fanatics devoted to despoiling the planet with their greed for ever larger cars and ever heavier hamburgers. The US is a country of grotesque inequalities of income and wealth in which the few rich laud it over the indigent many, fuelled by tax cuts and the hacking away of welfare programmes.

Its political coverage at least is balanced. This says Republicans are greedy, warmongering crooks but Democrats are no better - they're merely paler versions of ignorant nationalist capitalists.

BBC reporters travel the country in a state of bewilderment and bemusement at the pathos of it all. They approach their subjects like missionaries venturing into a leper colony - with an odd mixture of contempt and pity, the perfumed handkerchief stuck firmly under the nose to prevent contamination. Safely back in Washington and New York, of course, they all live high on the hog, fully enjoying the fruits of American economic success and low tax rates. Oddly enough they're nearly always reluctant to leave the imperialist superpower for the social democratic nirvana back home and many find ways to extend their tours.

In this trait, BBC idealists are not so very different from the American media counterparts. They probably reside in luxury suburbs, drive SUVs, and send their children to private schools as well.

There might be one bright spot. The folks at Public Radio International (PRI) or National Public Radio (NPR) might interpret this as muscling in on their “citizen of the world” turf and take after the Beeb. How disloyal of the BBC! There are no more fawning admirers than the folks at public radio, who consider the World Service as the ultimate in elevated, international news reporting. Unsullied with tawdry concerns for commerce or profit. Like the NPR and PRI folks themselves. (Except for their heavy dependence on government funding, paid sponsor support, and of course, fund drives.)

This might distract the public radio denizens (if not their regular listeners) from their “George Bush wants to destroy pubic radio and make us all watch Lawrence Welk re-runs” fund drives. (Alan Chartock, get the BBC on the line right now!)




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