Yesterday morning I was listening to On the Media, the NPR program about how the media works, when host Bob Garfield railed at a listener of the program for accusing the program of bias in favor of Israel.
Garfield’s speech takes place at minute 27 of the link. He reads from a letter in which a listener states that On the Media co-host “Brooke Gladstone’s report on the Palestinian issue is so biased that my radio bleeds,” and accuses Gladstone of reading “from the AIPAC playbook.”
Garfield mocked the listener by pointing out that Gladstone didn’t appear on the broadcast that triggered his letter. And if your radio is bleeding, Garfield continued, it’s “a safety hazard,” and you should turn it off and use the “receiver planted in your dental fillings by the FBI.” More:
I will not allow you to accuse Brooke of corruption. So you have lost your comment privilege. You are banned forever. Scram.
I found the lecture inappropriate and so did commenter Mario500 from Mobile, Alabama:
Bob Garfield’s response to one of the messages was unnecessarily harsh. He should have responded to the person with a private message rather than a public response that may have cost him and the program many listeners.
The lecture was not just highhanded but irresponsible. In yesterday’s show, Garfield did a piece on the Democratic convention noting that the only real news was the party bosses adding Jerusalem to the party platform, despite opposition from the rank and file, but commented that the plank was “toothless political posturing,” because Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is “a negotiating point in the peace process and will never be pushed by any elected president.” I have no idea what this means. But AIPAC helped script the Jerusalem language. Shouldn’t Garfield have mentioned that?
Is the lobby’s push for war with Iran toothless? Gladstone knows a lot about Zionism in Jewish life, and about the Israel lobby too. I never hear her treating these issues on her show. Goldstone’s husband, who works for Slate, supported the disastrous Iraq war (to his credit, he cops to his error); but I don’t believe that On the Media has ever examined the assertion (supported by Joe Klein, Lawrence Wilkerson, Philip Zelikow, and Walt and Mearsheimer among others) that the Israel lobby played a crucial part in the decision to invade Iraq. You’d think these would be elements of a serious reflective process in the media. But then, you probably have a radio receiver in your fillings.