Reporter Mike Shuster was intent on driving home the theme that the Bush foreign policy may (read: we hope) one day be analyzed as an utter failure. His three primary, supposedly nonpartisan "experts" were Ivo Daalder, a member of Clinton's National Security Council; Michael Mandelbaum, a foreign policy adviser to the 1992 Clinton campaign; and John Mearshimer, a regular critic of Bush foreign policy who argued in Foreign Policy magazine that Iraq should have remained under "vigilant containment," which we could also describe as maintaining a murderous tyrant in power. Their controversial views and Clinton connections were not developed by NPR.
Perhaps the biggest public-relations problems for NPR come when its liberal reporters hit the weekend talk-show circuit and let their opinions fly wildly. On Oct. 18, NPR legal reporter Nina Totenberg pronounced from her regular panelist perch on the TV show "Inside Washington" that General Jerry Boykin, who sermonized in Christian churches with the shocking, less-than-Unitarian message that Christianity is true and other creeds are false, should be fired.
Well, that's not the way it came out. First, Totenberg said Boykin's remarks were "seriously bad stuff," and then she said, "I hope he's not long for this world." Host Gordon Peterson joked, "What is this, The Sopranos?" Withdrawing to damage-control mode, Totenberg said she didn't mean she hoped he would die, just that he shouldn't last long "in his job."
But it's Totenberg who ought to fear for her job with these outbreaks of hate speech. Totenberg used this very same TV show to wish in 1995 that if the "Good Lord" knew justice, Senator Jesse Helms will "get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it."
It's awfully ironic that a woman who has spent 30 years saying outrageous liberal things on the taxpayer dime is now attacking a general on the grounds that there ought to be some things government officials cannot say and keep their jobs. The concern over these Boykin remarks should not be about the separation of church and state. It ought to be about the separation of National Public Radio from the state.