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NPR Ditches Heartland Pleasure For Homeland Sec.

THE MEDIACRACY: Nominally Public Radio Station Ditches Heartland Pleasure For Homeland Security

By Editor Sam Smith

It occurred to me recently that Nominally Public Radio has its red and blue states, too. Car Talk and Whadya Know? are among the red states, Diane Rehm and Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me among the blue.

It's not much about politics; it's about humor and attitude. Whadya Know is consistently funny; Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me just tedious.

The Magliozzi brothers and Michael Feldman leave you feeling that there is still an America worth loving. Wait, Wait makes you feel like it's just full of itself. Ira Glass in This American Life treats it all like reporting a distant colony back to London. And Diane Rehm, after one of her sycophantic exchanges with a carefully conventional guest, leaves you feeling that life is just one big policy difference nuance.

Now one of the capital's two public radio stations - WAMU - has confirmed my red state - blue state hypothesis by turning sharply to the blue. On Saturdays, it is dumping the funniest man on radio - Michael Feldman - in favor of a decidedly coastal elite schedule including such things as "Calling All Pets, featuring down-to-earth advice to help listeners bring out the best in their pets. . . moving This American Life to noon; and adding the award-winning sports show Only a Game at 1 p.m., award-winning host Lynne Rossetto Kasper's culinary and lifestyle program The Splendid Table at 2 p.m., and Marketplace Money's insights on personal finance at 5 p.m." In short, Saturdays on WAMU, like the rest of Washington, is being aggressively gentrified.

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Worse, the station is becoming a covert outlet for rightwing and government propaganda. WAMU is going to broadcast a program called Homeland Security, disingenuously described as "news and insight from key homeland security officials at the federal, state, and local levels plus private sector leaders, the academic community, and the media. Homeland Security is produced by the non-partisan, non-profit Institute for Homeland Security based in Washington D.C., in partnership with Texas A&M University and KAMU-FM in Central Texas."

Disingenuous because, to begin with, homeland security is a rightwing concept fostered following 9/11 as the answer to the effects of 50 years of bad foreign policies in the middle east. The amount of homeland security we actually need is inversely related to how good our foreign policy is.

Secondly, the group behind the program raises more than a few questions. This from Source Watch:

SOURCE WATCH - The Institute for Homeland Security is an off-shoot of the ANSER Institute, which was established by the RAND Corporation in 1958. As Margie Burns wrote June 29, 2002, in Online Journal: "Although funded and initiated in October 1999, the institute was formally established only in April 2001, following a month of high-tech and heavy-hitter-security-type buzz assisted by its ties to the military and to the intelligence community. . .

Burns continued: "A now-gone web page from the Institute for Homeland Security answers a question posed on March 30, 2002, by Mark Bower of the Air National Guard: why homeland?" The Institute's answer conceded that the catch phrase homeland defense had only "recently entered the lexicon of public discourse," although "the concept of 'defending the homeland' is an idea dating back through the better part of human history. To the best of knowledge, the Burns added, the term homeland defense is attributed to a 1997 report by the National Defense Panel.

"News reports credit it to panel member Richard L. Armitage, former CIA officer and now deputy secretary of State, though Mr. Armitage has not taken full credit for it -- understandably."

Writing for Buzzflash, Margie Burns postulated, "If Congress actually creates a Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security [which occurred through Executive Order on February 28, 2003], we will have a cabinet office named after a corporation. Members of the House Committee on Government Reform and the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee should be watchful. The government has already given the company lavish free advertising, with assistance from the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's publications. In spite of the Institute, the phrase homeland security was little seen in the popular media before September 2002 (at least in this country); aside from a sprinkling of journals and think tanks, only the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Washington Times newspaper, Insight Magazine, and UPI boosted the Institute and its central catch phrase with any frequency."

Burns continued in Online Journal, "Immediately after September 11, the Washington Times was foremost in aggressively touting and defending -- indeed, insisting on -- instant adoption of homeland as the term of the hour, also citing ANSER. Predictably, the institute's web site also references articles from the Washington Times."

According to the ANSER Institute web site, in May 2001, the ANSER Institute of Homeland Security "was established to enhance public awareness and education and contribute to the dialog on a national, state, and local level." . . . Additionally, at a plenary session presentation held at MORS from February 29 to March 2, 2000, and attended by Dr. David, ANSER was described as a "Federally Funded Research and Development Center."

And this about the man behind the radio show:

SOURCE WATCH - The following comes from the ANSER Institute web site: "Since 9-11, numerous senior government officials, including Vice President Richard Bruce Dick Cheney and Governor Tom Ridge, have sought his advice and counsel. He has served as an expert witness in hearings held by the Senate and the House of Representatives and provided informational briefings to numerous Members of Congress, the military, the Intelligence Community, and business audiences. His recent speaking engagements include the Council on Foreign Relations, the Foreign Policy Association, the International Institute for Security Studies (London), the German Marshall Fund (Brussels), the Young Presidents' Organization, the Washington State Police Chiefs Annual Conference, numerous universities, and World Affairs Councils. . .

"He previously served as the Chairman of the Department of Military Strategy and Operations at the National War College, as a government advisor to the Defense Science Board. . .

"He was a co-developer of the nationally acclaimed Dark Winter exercise. Key players in this exercise included the Governor of Oklahoma, Frank Keating; former Senator Sam Nunn; special assistant to four presidents David Gergen; former Director of Central Intelligence R. James Woolsey, Jr.; and former FBI Director William Sessions.


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