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Afghanistan: Thank You, NPR, for Not Interviewing Me

August 12, 2009

Tuesdays are “TINNN” Day (This Is Not Network News)

To see the state of news reporting in the U.S. today, I’d like to parody an NPR interview.  This morning, Tuesday, August 11, Renee Montagne interviewed NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, embedded with U.S. military forces in Helmand Province, Afghanistan and General Stanley McChrystal, the American commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan.  She did not interview Joe Volk, Executive Secretary of FCNL. So, I thought I’d interview myself on her behalf.

This is not NPR (TINNPR):

Mr. Volk, welcome to TINNPR.

Joe Volk:

Thank you. It is nice not to be interviewed by you.


Mr. Volk, did you listen to the NPR interviews by Renee Montagne with Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson and with Gen. McChrystal about Afghanistan this morning?

Joe Volk:

Yes. I checked my portable radio dial to make sure I was on NPR. It sounded like PNN, Pentgon Network News.


Why would you say that?

Mr. Volk:

Look at the headlines on NPR’s webpage for those interviews.  The Nelson segment was headlined:  “Mission: Make Taliban Area Safe For Afghan Voters,” and the McChrystal segment was headlined “McChrystal: Give Taliban Fighters A Political Voice.”  That reads like Pentagon generated script, not the headline of an investigative reporter.


Aren’t you being a bit cynical?

Mr. Volk:

What’s cynical about my observation?  After all, the NPR interviewer describes NPR’s reporter in Afghanistan as “embedded” with the U.S. forces.  Doesn’t NPR get it? Do I have to spell it out?  “Embedded” conveys the idea of “in bed with.”  “In bed with” has a negative connotation in English, meaning “under the sway of,” “enthralled by,” or “screwing with.”  That’s not the image of an independent press.


Since the start of the war in Afghanistan and then in the war in Iraq, the U.S. press has been embedded with U.S. military forces in order to cover those wars.  You can’t cover the wars and be independent of the military.  That would be impossible.

Mr. Volk:

Thank you.  My point exactly.


This is not Renee Montagne and this is not NPR.

  1. wonderfullyrich permalink
    August 13, 2009 6:00 pm

    Nice Joe! I love the “embedded” connotations. You should keep this up on a regular basis. The narrative is brilliant. Perhaps you could even get one of the interns to interview you and post the video here…

  2. Marcia Roberts permalink
    August 24, 2009 5:03 pm

    Thanks for keeping us on track. Maybe NPR will get the message too!Although I haven’t had much luck getting them to read or understanding my comments on their reporting.

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