In an irony only public radio could miss, "On the Media" hosts an hour on the perils of "free speech absolutism" without interviewing a defender of free speech.
It was pointed out to me recently that the gist of this movement, whether it be critical race theory or this anti-free speech brigade, is reactionary. They fully reject the Civil Rights Movement in favor of identity group segregation and go even further to assert that individual rights should be demoted below those of the collective or done away with altogether.
This article cements that argument in my head.
The Left supported free speech until they got what they wanted, institutional and cultural power. Now they want to do away with it because it threatens them. They will disguise their desire to do so with claims of "It's to protect you!" but ultimately, it's all about them and eliminating their opposition.
It should be pointed out that the "End of History" has been claimed before, usually with horrific results.
I too used to listen to NPR and On the Media. When Trump was elected, I went looking for thoughtful analysis and information about what was going on, but I found nothing but rage, paranoia, and dogma everywhere: NYT, the New Yorker (I'd been an adult-lifelong subscriber and ardent fan), TV networks, my Apple News feed, all of it. Gone to the dogs.
The final straw for me with On the Media was an episode they did a couple of years ago celebrating the random destruction of the lives of anyone the mob (or a troll hoping to inspire a mob) deemed a "Karen." The laziness of embracing the term was enough to turn me off.
But the glee with which Brooke Gladstone identified one unfortunate person after another, all private citizens who had done nothing, was chilling. She was cruel, and used her broadcasting reach to wreck people. Just for fun, I guess, or to feel a jolt of power. She identified a number of people by name and city, and her guest told us why these people were racists. I guess I was naiave, but I found it shocking, and have never listened again.
Again, brilliant analysis. I haven’t financially supported PBS or NPR in years. My monies and support are better spent on Substack and other forums that support what we used to call mainstream. These days the only voice we seem to have is our dollars. Vote with your dollars.
This is why I subscribed. Very few have the standing and ability to deconstruct so thoroughly the moronic state of NPR and our corporate media today.
The media has been so captured by grifters like Kendi and DiAngelo that they’re basically empty parodies of themselves. I would have more respect if they just came out and said the new speech laws would be applied according to race and an oppression index.
They must be mocked.
Any amount of time you spend, Matt, describing just how awful NPR has become, is time well spent. I am being quite serious. Getting a root canal done is positively enjoyable compared to listening to NPR.
I’ve been teaching law in China for the past 11 years, and what strikes me the hardest about the NPR segment you describe is how the anti-free speech advocates sound just like the Chinese Communist party-line.
I don’t like your opinion on Free Speech Matt and I don’t think you should be able to write things like this. Just kidding. Fuck these twats.
On The Media was always an NPR outlier for me. A usually perceptive peek inside the meta narratives that I've been interested in since studying McLuhan in high school. I had to stop listening around the Trump era because it drifted into the dishonest space you identified above. So sad and weird.
What is going on with the smart people in America? At a minimum they should be suspicious of the certainty of their beliefs. Anyone who isn't shouldn't dare consider themselves part of any intelligentsia.
Well, I hate to tell you this, Matt. But maybe you'll finally get on board with what a threat to freedom these elitist far left people are. I taught at a university in Michigan and saw this coming for decades really, but the last ten years like a freight train. This is going to get ugly. They plan to silence and demonize anyone who doesn't agree with them. In America! she gives THEM the platform and the right to say the idiot things that come out of their mouth!! What incredible irony. Wow. But this takes my breath away.
Love this turn of phrase "It’s unsurprising that NPR — whose tone these days is so precious and exclusive that five minutes of listening to any segment makes you feel like you’re wearing a cucumber mask at a Plaza spa"
Trump broke On The Media. I sheepishly admit that it used to be my favorite radio program. During the 2016 election, they went all in on the inevitability of Clinton and ran bizarre “What if” reading of Atlantic articles about the implosion of the US if Trump was elected and Bob went on rants about how stupid it was to believe that either Trump or Sanders could win. When Trump won, rather than taking it as a sign that their entire understanding of the media was wrong, they doubled down and retreated fully into the NYC to DC corridor media bubble. And then they Me Too’d Bob. Full TDS.
Once again, I am reminded that my $50 a year for Matt's columns is a bargain and money well spent. Let's see, our modern progressive elites come mostly from elite educational institutions that for years have imposed speech codes. Our progressive "betters" solemnly swore that speech codes were about protecting the rights of everyone. Of course, now we are told that individual rights themselves are the REAL problem and that once we get rid of individual rights, then our society can experience "wholeness."
Matt: An exceptional column. Among your best. I'd go further than hammering just NPR though. The Dems, especially through social media, are suppressing free speech. Remember the Wuhan Lab Theory that was not PERMITTED for a year (wish I could italicize)?! Or how the press refused to allow the Hunter Biden laptop story out from its suppression of the NY Post's story? There are speech codes on campuses and forced reeducation and struggle sessions--mostly directed at white people--under the name of "equity". I doubt there is one conservative or Republican who is in favor of speech codes. But to return to NPR: it has become well-nigh unlistenable. Thanks for taking the hit for me.
Ugh. Awful. I used to listen to NPR every day but stopped by mid-2018. They used Trump's "good people on both sides" statement as proof that he was a racist, stated that they will call him a racist going forward and never looked back. When the fact checking came out about what was really said and in what context, they doubled down. I am not now, nor ever have been, a Trump supporter. Ever. But that sort of open bias championing was too much for me to stand any more. I used to believe if I wanted a straight story on something - especially if it was controversial - I'd go to NPR.
It's also worth noting that they managed to take swipes at Trump as well as inferring (implying?) that the populism that got him elected was at its core racist and homophobic.
I was just arguing with a friend that NPR has become a progressive circle jerk masquerading as our guardians of truth. Whenever they talk about COVID, antiracism, the limits of free speech or basically anything else, I feel like a right wing nut job (which apparently nowadays is the center).
So Americans are expected to have their tax dollars spent on a station that advocates for censorship. Congress might be better served IF they totally defunded most grants to these types of outlets. Let them survive on their own if the public is interested in listening to their neo-Nazi rational for truncating another speech. There will probably always be a debate about the limits of "free" speech. Problem is outlets like NPR don't debate they propagandize most subjects --- and with our money. This usually boring and ideological station could not live without the gov't throwing money at it. It has devolved into a gaggle of woke ideologues without a clue.