National Public Radio (NPR) bills itself as an “Internationally acclaimed producer and distributor of non-commercial News, talk, and entertainment programming”. It claims to be a not-for-profit membership organization with a growing audience of 26 million Americans, broadcasting over a network of 860 independently operated noncommercial public radio stations. NPR has a reputation, especially among educated Americans, for unbiased, balanced reporting.
“Very interesting!” I hear you cry “Good for NPR! But who cares? Why should readers of Pravda or anyone else interested in Russia care about NPR?” Because in my opinion, NPR might as well stand for ‘Nothing’s Positive about Russia.’ Harvard Educated Gregory Feifer is NPR’s correspondent in Moscow and this is taken directly from Feifer’s biography on NPR’s own web page.
“Gregory Feifer reports for NPR from Moscow, covering Russia's resurgence under President Vladimir Putin and the country's transition to the post-Putin era. He files from other former Soviet republics and across Russia, where he's observed the effects of the country's vast new oil wealth on an increasingly nationalistic society as well as Moscow's rekindling of a new Cold War-style opposition to the West”
Alright, even if you’ve never listened to NPR or heard any of Feifer’s reports, the above disclaimer ought to raise at least half an eyebrow on any thinking person. The words “increasingly nationalistic society” and “Moscow’s rekindling of a new Cold War” jumped out at me as a bit accusative, especially in context of describing the assignment of a News reporter. In my opinion, Mr. Feifer’s reports are worse.
Since joining NPR in 2005, Feifer has broadcasted probably close to 100 stories. Far from being fair or balanced, the reporting seems to me to be so filled with senseless inflammatory rhetoric as to suggest an anti-Russian bias. This has been going on for years. Anyone can access Feifer’s work on NPR’s web page and judge for themselves. The link is below. I prefer to calm such passions, so I won’t quote any of his work directly, but Feifer’s latest piece “In Russia, Migrant Workers Live In Fear Of Racism” went far over the line in my opinion, and inspired this article.
The piece was aired just this past Tuesday, July 29th, 2008 and called attention to the sad plight of “Migrant Workers” (in America, we call them illegal aliens) in southern Russia. The article spotlighted hate-related killings (60 of them, so far this year) and blamed Russia’s culture and neo-Nazi youth. Of course, America’s own problems with hate crimes against illegals, and death squads of vigilantes that patrol the US borders with Mexico and Canada aren’t mentioned. To me, obvious bias and inflammatory rhetoric rendered the work untrustworthy as News and more like a piece of propaganda. In the past, I have contacted NPR directly regarding my perception of a long history of anti-Russian bias in their reporting, but have never gotten a reply.
There are serious problems on our poor planet. America and Russia are the world’s super powers and leaders. I’ve written several articles that Pravda has been kind enough to publish expressing my opinion that humanity’s future depends on both Nations working together in positive ways. Of course, we will have our differences. I’m an American and proud of my country (if not of this particular administration) so naturally, I would support American values and interests when those differences come up. That’s my bias. But the way to resolution and improved relations is through compromise and honest, respectful dialog that leads to understanding. In my opinion, little of Feifer’s work is constructive to that end.
Dominick L. Auci, Ph.D.