NPR: Radio's Voice of Hypocrisy
by L. Brent Bozell III
February 6, 1997
National Public Radio hasn't shrunk from presenting itself as the scourge of corporate bigotry. Recently, NPR reporter Jim Zarroli and others reported at least ten news stories and three commentaries on the Texaco racial discrimination controversy, employing the familiar formula of guilty racist corporation versus heroic left-wing activists (never labeled that way, of course) like Jesse Jackson. "All Things Considered" host Robert Siegel even rehashed fifty-year-old stories about Texaco supplying the Nazis with oil.
On "Talk of the Nation" December 30, NPR host Ray Suarez gave the NPR company line on corporate racism: "You'll often find in the details of the settlement package released by the company an odd mix of fanfare and contrition, a commitment to diversity training, or multicultural management workshops, or some form of penance. When I read that, I sometimes wonder: what do the accused and the aggrieved think is going to be accomplished by this? Does using these classes as traffic school for bigots change mores, what deTocqueville called 'habits of the heart'? Or do they form in managers a determination to be more cagey the next time?"
If ever a pot called a kettle black, this is it. NPR deserves to be nicknamed "Voice of Hypocrisy." This champion of the onerous anti-discrimination regimes which thrive on claims of "hostile environments" and ubiquitous "disabilities" continues to be pecked by chickens coming home to roost. The newest lawsuit comes from NPR reporter Sunni Khalid, a black Muslim who served as Cairo bureau chief. He charges his NPR superiors discriminated against him for being black and being Muslim.
To listen to his rants is to conclude that Khalid is neither an objective reporter nor a particularly nice person. On C-SPAN in 1994, Khalid compared Newt Gingrich to Haitian Marxist Jean-Bertrand Aristide: "I think there's a big difference when people told Father Aristide to sort of moderate his views. They were concerned about people being dragged through the streets, killed and necklaced. I don't think that's what Newt Gingrich has in mind. I think he's looking at a more scientific, more civil way of lynching people."
Khalid's incessant pro-Arab slant has also triggered complaints from the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA): "Khalid appears to have adopted many of the views of his various Arab hosts," CAMERA executive director Andrea Levin wrote NPR, "repeating their partisan attacks on Israel and ignoring altogether or downplaying Arab aggression toward Israel as well as ongoing Arab abuses of human an political rights in their respective states."
Now Khalid has a new target, NPR, and a new victim, himself. Khalid's suit complains former NPR Vice President Bill Buzenberg promised Khalid "would be assigned to Johannesburg after a year in Cairo," causing Khalid to "turn down a job offer from a major commercial news organization, which was a highly paid position that would have greatly advanced his career." (If true, it would be intriguing to learn what "news" organization offered this blowhard a job, wouldn't it?)
In his suit, Khalid also whines NPR failed to pay for Arabic lessons while it provided language training for white reporters; paid him less than white foreign correspondents; failed to provide him with sufficient travel allowances; and suffered from a superior who repeatedly called Arabs "ragheads" in staff meetings.
Khalid's complaint further alleges "NPR has no African-American hosts of an NPR show, or African-American senior editors assigned to NPR's major news programs. Four of five NPR desks do not have a minority senior editor. Further, each time African-Americans at NPR have organized, NPR has refused to address the problem of discrimination in a comprehensive manner." It adds that black employees are often subject to retaliation for their complaints - including Deborah Williams, an assistant producer on the supposedly vigilant Ray Suarez's "Talk of the Nation," who has "been subjected to verbal abuse by her superiors and has been repeatedly overlooked for promotion."
It's unimportant how specious you and I might (and I do) feel these charges to be. The question is this: given that these charges parallel the Texaco complaints; and given the saturation media coverage Texaco received; and given the taxpayer-funded nature of NPR - where are our illustrious journalists now? Why no pressure on black NPR President Delano Lewis to release copies of a report NPR recently commissioned from an outside law firm that allegedly confirmed that "racism is pervasive in the NPR newsroom"?
Last year, NPR and the rest of the Anita Hill-loving media ignored the sexual discrimination charges of Katie Davis, whose complaint also included other employees' claims of sexual harassment by NPR managers. Now it's Khalid's turn to be ignored by a press that continues to spare its politically correct NPR colleagues the slings and arrows it relishes shooting at everyone else. In the final analysis, aren't Khalid and NPR made for each other?