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.
By Anne Landman on January 30, 2010