Afghanistan: Thank You, NPR, for Not Interviewing Me
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
Thank you. My point exactly.
This is not Renee Montagne and this is not NPR.