Posted by Anne Landman on January 30, 2010

After progressive historian Howard Zinn died on January 27, 2010, National Public Radio ran an unusual obituary on its January 28 All Things Considered news program. Noam Chomsky and Julian Bond, two of Zinn's well-known friends, offered overviews of his life and legacy. But NPR's remembrance also included darkly insulting comments from conservative pundit David Horowitz: "There is absolutely nothing in Howard Zinn's intellectual output that is worthy of any kind of respect," Horowitz said. "Zinn represents a fringe mentality which has unfortunately seduced millions of people at this point in time. So he did certainly alter the consciousness of millions of younger people for the worse." Horowitz called Zinn's famous book, A People's History of the United States, "a travesty." While NPR arguably tries to balance news reports with views from opposing sides of issues, it has not consistently adhered to this principle in its radio obituaries. When NPR covered the death of William F. Buckley, Jr., a figure as strongly admired on the right as Zinn was on the left, NPR aired fully six different segments about his life and legacy -- none of which included denigrating comments from critics who opposed him. Buckely left no shortage of things to criticize, either. He supported white supremacism in South Africa and the American south, nuclear war against China and even supported the tatooing of AIDS patients' buttocks. So far, NPR has not explained why it featured David Horowitz's harsh trashing of the late Howard Zinn in its commemorative piece, when its extensive eulogizing of William F. Buckley included no critical guests.

Topics: 

Comments

Jon Stewart finished up Thursday night's Daily Show with, "Here it is, your moment of Zinn." That's worth a dozen of William Buckley or David Horowitz.

Stewart's comments were an insider joke appreciated by his audience. The listeners who send money to PBS unfortunately trust NPR as good journalism with a broader spectrum of opinion than FOX/ABC/CBS/CNN/etc. Too bad the news bosses at NPR are so good at marginalizing, ignoring and blacklisting voices like Zinn's, voices that so need to be heard and heard frequently, but are disdained by mainstream corporate media, including corporate-sponsored public media, because they threaten the political interests and power of big corporate funders of national media.

Well, here's an idea of mine that it may not be too soon to repeat. I think that when it's pledge drive time, NPR and PBS both should be required to inform the audience they're hitting up how much they'd need to raise not to have to take anything from corporations or corporate fronts, then cut back the commercials pro-rata depending on how much the public contributes. Maybe we could at least get rid of the Chevron commercial at the start of the NewsHour. Just a thought.

I think that's a great idea! It's so disconcerting to hear so many of the plugs and also to see that creeping slant at the public stations.

This extends to all of the "major" news outlets. Worse than including scathing comments from critics in a eulogy , Zinn's death was curiously omitted from the rags people consume for their daily news. I found myself being the bearer of bad news to friends that hadn't even heard of Mr. Zinn's passing.

Over the past 10 years I have noticed that npr is leaving out a lot of news reports that are very important, and they are increasingly allowing deliberate disinformation to be presented by people like Horowitz during the recent obituary for howard Zinn. Also allowing the American Enterprise Institute to speak without counterbalance of truth. Is that because of some of the financial contributors beginning to have some weigh-in on what information is presented? I fear that may be the case. PB

"Fear" is a four-letter word, like, "True"

your guidelines are good and should be permanently displayed....

harish@back pain exercises and stretches

1. Horowitz's mortual attack on Zinn only underscores the frailty and self-perceived vulnerability of Horowitz's own phony, illusionist politics.

For a pundit of the diminutive stature of Horowitz to call Zinn "fringe" -- in spite of "millions of" readers -- is pathetic.

2. What's even more pathetic is that Non-Public Radio had to kiss their sponsors' "ring" and "balance" Zinn's merits with mendacious, corporatist propaganda just in order to be allowed to run a deservedly laudatory obituary of the visionary and progressive Zinn.

Just another emphatic testament to the deep, medieval distortions permeating all of American public discourse and social/political consciousness.

1. Horowitz's mortual attack on Zinn only underscores the frailty and self-perceived vulnerability of Horowitz's own phony, illusionist politics.

For a pundit of the diminutive stature of Horowitz to call Zinn "fringe" -- in spite of "millions of" readers -- is pathetic.

2. What's even more pathetic is that Non-Public Radio had to kiss their sponsors' "ring" and "balance" Zinn's merits with mendacious, corporatist propaganda just in order to be allowed to run a deservedly laudatory obituary of the visionary and progressive Zinn.

Just another emphatic testament to the deep, medieval distortions permeating all of American public discourse and social/political consciousness.

Pages

Bill Moyers presents "United States of ALEC," a report on the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of -- ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.