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Why is NPR carrying water for Bachmann?

June 30th, 2011 Comments off

The June 29th broadcast of NPR’s Morning Edition featured a report on Michele Bachmann’s recent appearance in New Hampshire.

Morning Edition co-host, Steve Inskeep, introduced the story, noting that “Just a month or two ago, many experts did not take Michele Bachmann that seriously as a presidential contender. Now her strong performance in debates and speeches is making her stand out.”

NPR political correspondent Mara Liasson didn’t waste any time burnishing Ms. Bachmann’s image. Liasson observed “Michele Bachmann is poised, polished and slinging the applause lines as she attacks President Obama.”

NPR’s coverage of Bachmann’s campaign for the GOP nomination is consistent with an emerging media narrative that the corporate media have adopted in recent weeks. Once dismissed as a “fringe” candidate, Bachmann is suddenly a front runner.

It should come as no surprise that corporate or public media would elevate Bachmann at this point in the Republican contest. After all, the GOP field is not the most dynamic bunch. Nevertheless, press coverage of Bachmann’s campaign in recent weeks amounts to little more than a white wash.

The free ride Bachmann is getting from mainstream media stands in stark contrast to the rigorous investigative reporting featured in independent and alternative news outlets, like Democracy Now! For instance, Bachmann’s “small government” credentials don’t stand up too well against revelations that her family receives federal subsides for a farm in Wisconsin.

Likewise, Bachmann’s claim to have raised 23 children doesn’t stand up to critical scrutiny. Then there’s all the ugliness that comes with Bachmann’s longstanding opposition to gay rights and same sex marriage.

Why NPR, which bills itself as a first-rate news outlet, is kowtowing to Bachmann and her tea party followers is anyone’s guess.

What’s clear is that NPR lacks the will, let alone the integrity, to do the sort of watchdog reporting we should expect from public broadcasting. Instead, NPR takes the low road — a well trodden path cut by Fox News and other commercial outlets — that avoids holding elected officials, including presidential candidates, accountable for things said and policies pursued.