‘Learn to Speak Tea Bag’: NPR’s Ignorance Worse than Malice

by Jeremy D. Boreing
January 11, 2010

I enjoy NPR. That is not to say I think the government should be funding radio programs (actually, in NPR’s case, they don’t). It is also not to say that NPR is not at times pretty left-leaning. Of course they are. Still, I find their programming quite compelling, far more in-depth and even centrist than a lot of television news, and frankly a better option while stuck in LA traffic than a lot of that crazy music kids listen to these days. Still, I was quite offended last week when NPR, on their new opinion pages, featured a video by Mark Fiore called Learn to Speak Tea Bag.

The video, which has already been discussed on these pages, is an assault on millions of middle-Americans who are distrustful of and frustrated with our federal government. Frankly, I find it repellent and was disappointed with NPR for running it. Not that I believe they, or any other organization, should whitewash political differences, but because the piece is beneath them. It lacks any substance, or for that matter, humor. Clearly the creator of the piece was not trying to please me with his work, but juvenile is juvenile, and NPR is, traditionally, not a home to juvenile work. I was pleased to see that Alicia Shepard denounced the piece at NPR Omnibudsman, and found her piece on the matter to be spot on. Good on you, ma’am.

Shepard’s piece, however, reveals something that, if true, is even more insulting than the video itself. In it, Shepard suggests that both Fiore and Ellen Silva, NPR’s opinion editor, were ignorant of the sexual connotation of the term “tea bagger.” Silva even suggests that she has heard Tea Party participants referring to themselves in this fashion (I, who have attended Tea Party rallies, have never heard anyone in that movement use the term that I can recall).

The article continues at Big Journalism.

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