While most of National Public Radio’s money comes from sources like pledge drives and corporate underwriting (a fancy term for very tasteful, expensive and short commercials), some of it comes from your tax dollars.
In fact, roughly 16 percent of its funding comes from American taxpayers.
That’s essentially a drop in the ocean of the federal budget and something my blood pressure wouldn’t ordinarily respond to. I mention this only because I don’t like giving any of my money to an organization which exercises total and complete contempt for my political beliefs.
And it’s not just the total and complete contempt, but rather the depth of it.
On some days, it feels like the Mariana Trench of total and complete contempt. No light exists there. Robert Ballard’s submarines couldn’t even reach the bottom of it.
The latest journey to 20,000 leagues under objectivity has actually been going on for quite some time.
As abortion legislation has been much in the news of late, NPR decided to publish its in-house guidance for journalists regarding abortion terminology online — a guide which seems to have been cobbled together over quite a long period, given references germane to the 2004 Unborn Victims of Violence Act.
I’m not quite sure why they did it, as I couldn’t imagine any document more condemnatory for an organization that claims to be objective.
Had someone else obtained it and NPR was just trying to get ahead of the story? Was NPR trying to rub it in for those who disagree with them on abortion? “This is where a few cents of your tax money went, suckers!”
Or is NPR’s culture so insular that the outlet just didn’t know how biased it would look?
So, here’s its guidance on the legislation in Alabama and Georgia: “One thing to keep in mind about this law and others like it: Proponents refer to it as a ‘fetal heartbeat’ law. That is their term. It needs to be attributed to them if used and put in quotation marks if printed. We should not simply say the laws are about when a ‘fetal heartbeat’ is detected. [Emphasis theirs.] As we’ve reported, heartbeat activity can be detected ‘about six weeks into a pregnancy.’ That’s at least a few weeks before an embryo is a fetus.”
The guidance goes on to note that that while NPR originally thought the term “late term abortion” had less “ideological baggage” than saying “partial-birth abortion,” it still has baggage and is technically incorrect. (That very last part is true; the two procedures occur at different points in the pregnancy, and the fact that this originally flew by the editors at NPR when they were hashing this out is telling.)
“As an alternative, call it a certain procedure performed after the first trimester of pregnancy and, subsequently, the procedure,” the guidance states.
It gets better or worse, depending on how much of a sense of humor you can muster on the topic.
“NPR doesn’t use the term ‘abortion clinics,'” the guidance reads. “We say instead, ‘medical or health clinics that perform abortions.’ The point is to not to use abortion before the word clinic. The clinics perform other procedures and not just abortions.”
And meanwhile, when it comes to pro-life/pro-choice language: “On the air, we should use ‘abortion rights supporter(s)/advocate(s)’ and ‘abortion rights opponent(s)’ or derivations thereof (for example: ‘advocates of abortion rights’). It is acceptable to use the phrase ‘anti-abortion rights,’ but do not use the term ‘pro-abortion rights’. Digital News will continue to use the AP style book for online content, which mirrors the revised NPR policy. Do not use ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ in copy except when used in the name of a group. Of course, when the terms are used in an actuality they should remain.”
The greatest irony, however, comes from that bit of guidance regarding 2004’s Unborn Victims of Violence Act.
“The term ‘unborn’ implies that there is a baby inside a pregnant woman, not a fetus,” the guidance from Joe Neel, currently NPR’s deputy senior supervising editor, reads. “Babies are not babies until they are born. They’re fetuses. Incorrectly calling a fetus a ‘baby’ or ‘the unborn’ is part of the strategy used by antiabortion groups to shift language/legality/public opinion.”
“Use ‘unborn’ only when referring to the title of the bill (and after President Bush signs it, the Unborn Victims of Violence Law). Or qualify the use of ‘unborn’ by saying ‘what anti-abortion groups call the ‘unborn’ victims of violence.’ The most neutral language to refer to the death of a fetus during a crime is ‘fetal homicide.'”
Yes, shifting language is a horrible thing.
That’s why NPR’s in-house guidance created that mess of stilted linguistic nonsense, which clearly isn’t designed to shift language or public opinion in any way, shape or form.
Again, it’s not just the contempt for the pro-life movement, but the depth of it.
There isn’t a single instance in which the language chosen isn’t designed to minimize the impact of abortion as much as possible.
On reflection, I’m kind of surprised NPR let the word “abortion” be used at all.
There was no one in the NPR newsroom to construct a contrived euphemism for the procedure that totally minimizes the process of deliberately ending life in the womb? “Fetal retraction?” “Selective parenting?”
This would all just be farcical newspeak if it weren’t for the fact that every word of it is designed to slather opaqueness on one of the most grisly medical procedures — as well as the industry surrounding it — out there.
That’s the truly sinister aspect behind this “guidance.”
I understand that you may disagree with my assessment of abortion. That’s understandable.
The only thing I’ve taken from you — at least in regard to this article — is a few minutes of your time, which you’ve freely given.
I’ve taken none of your tax money. I have no pretensions to being “national” or “public.” I’m not being objective.
All of the guidance you’ve read above comes from an organization that takes some of your money — admittedly a small amount, but an amount nonetheless — promises something resembling an objective informational product and instead gives you something every bit as commentarial as what I’ve written.
If this is what NPR wants to do, it shouldn’t be on the public’s dime.
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