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September 22, 2023

‘Public Broadcasting’ Bored Silly by Republican Hearings

A special bucket of opprobrium should go to what they call “public broadcasting,” PBS and NPR.

Attorney General Merrick Garland offered a “fiery defense” in a “grueling hearing” of a House Judiciary Committee “stocked with far-right stalwarts,” as The New York Times described it. The front-page story by Glenn Thrush quoted no Republicans on the cover, just Garland, as Thrush said many Republican “insinuations” against Garland “were not supported by fact.”

At least it made the front page. The Washington Post didn’t even manage that. CNN and MSNBC joined Fox News in offering a decent amount of live coverage, interrupted on CNN by anchor Brianna Keilar calling it an “unserious circus” and reporter Evan Perez wrongly claiming Hunter Biden “has struggled” to sell his amateurish paintings (they made $1.3 million).

A special bucket of opprobrium should go to what they call “public broadcasting,” PBS and NPR. On “PBS NewsHour,” they could barely manage a two-minute story on the Garland hearing.

Reporter Lisa Desjardins quoted from Republicans, then added, “Democrats were frank in cross-examination.” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee asked Garland: “Does the rhetoric regarding the Biden case have any basis in reality?” Garland replied: “No, it does not.”

Then she ended by helping Garland mawkishly play the Jewish card. He “never hesitated to stand up for his agency, but showed unusual passion defending himself, speaking about family members killed in the Holocaust, and his grandmother, who survived because she had fled to America.” Fact check? Franklin Roosevelt wasn’t a savior of “huddled masses” of European Jews during the Holocaust.

In the same hour of “news,” they aired a 14-minute investigation under the online title “Conservatives target liberal state Supreme Court justices.” Conservatives are always the villains, “targeting” idealistic liberal public servants.

Now recall that PBS, like almost every news network on television, offered expansive live coverage of the Nancy Pelosi-picked panel investigating the Jan. 6 rioting. From the looks of their YouTube pages, it’s at least 45 hours of live coverage last year. But no one expected PBS to air live coverage of a “grueling” House Republican hearing. Nope, they didn’t want to disturb any moms hoping for “Sesame Street” and “Curious George” and “Donkey Hodie” and “Work It Out Wombats!” to keep their preschoolers busy.

NPR offered a story on “All Things Considered” and a story on “Morning Edition.” It was one of those “interviews disguised as a story” where correspondent Ryan Lucas preposterously posited that “Garland has tried, since he took over as attorney general, to extricate the department from politics, to wall it off from outside influence. And a lot of legal observers think he’s done a good job of reestablishing norms on that front.”

Neither of his stories offered one second of a Republican sound bite. Each of them aired a sound bite of Garland claiming, “I am not the president’s lawyer. I will add, I am not Congress’ prosecutor. The Justice Department works for the American people.” That sounds like a campaign advertisement for the Department of Justice … and it’s false.

NPR also offered those 45-plus hours of live coverage of Democrats and ersatz Republicans lecturing about Jan. 6, but couldn’t give Rep. Jim Jordan and his Republican colleagues an eight-second sound bite.

In addition (or subtraction), “The NPR Politics Podcast” decided its topic after the hearings would be “Our Changing Democracy: Non-Partisan Primaries, Internet Voting.”

Unlike the Jan. 6 hearings, Jordan’s hearing allowed both Republicans and Democrats to interview the witness. The Republicans received zero credit from “public media” or anyone else for this more tolerant and bipartisan approach. It was too “grueling” on Garland to deserve any positive notice.


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