Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

National Pentagon Radio (NPR) Watch


Friday brought another report of the civil war in Syria by Kelly McEvers of NPR’s Morning Edition.

The opening summary tells us that rebels “captured a third major border crossing between Syria and Turkey. The rebels are trying to restore services to a recently liberated town.”  Let’s hold on right there.  “Liberated town”?    According to Miriam Webster’s online dictionary, the first definition of  “liberate,” is to set at liberty: free.; specifically : to free (as a country) from domination by a foreign power.”  (The phrase “domination by a foreign power” is more than a touch ironic, given the role of the U.S., Turkey, Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council in bankrolling and supplying the rebels. )  One need not even probe into the connotations of “liberate” which by its very denotation tells us that liberation is the work of the “good guys.”  Right there in a subtle, or not so subtle, way, National Pentagon Radio is taking sides.  And it is not too far into the reportage before journalist ace Kelly McEvers repeats the formulation: “Inside the building, we sit down with Abu Azzam, one of the rebel commanders who helped liberate the border crossing (with Turkey, Jw) and the town beyond.”

So what kind of “liberation” has come to this town of about 20,000 people called Tal Abyad?  As we get deeper into the story, the “liberation” becomes ever stranger.  McEvers reports: “Once inside the town, the only civilians we see are a handful of people in a pickup truck, and they’re on their way out. The bakeries have reopened, but apparently just to make bread for the fighters. One of two functioning stores clearly caters to the rebels, too. Otherwise, the town is almost completely empty….Our guide, Abu Yazen, shows us the blackened, pockmarked government buildings that were taken by the rebels. We ask Abu Yazen why the town is so empty. He says it’s because 80 percent of the people in town actually sided with the government, not with the rebels (emphasis, jw)….What happens when those 80 percent of the people come back and they want their houses back? What’s going to happen to them?”….The guide Yazen replies and McEvers offers the translation,  “Those who have blood on their hands will be tried, he says. The others will come back and help us build a new country.”  Hardly a reassuring invitation to those who have fled from the “liberation” of their town.

McEvers hastily concludes her piece: “Someone rushes in to tell us they’ve spotted a column of trucks with mounted machine guns that belong to the regime’s army.  (Soundbite of truck motor)   We have to hurry out of town before we know the end of the story.”  The operative term this time is “regime.”  The routine usage on NPR is that official enemies have “regimes,” so both Iran and Syria routinely have regimes but Israel, for example, has a “government.”    Here we must look at the connotation of the word; and as Wikipedia informs us under “modern usage,”: “While the word regime originates as a synomym for any form of government, modern usage often gives the term a negative connotation…” (There was a time when the antiwar movement referred to the “Bush regime,” but that usage has gone missing with the ascension of Obama, the candidate of the “progressive” Democrats.)

This sort of vocabulary is not trivial as George Orwell long ago pointed out.  It is usage which, repeated endlessly, reinforces the idea of who the good guys are and who the bad guys are.  Such propaganda molds opinions and is preparation for war and conflict.

If you have examples of such biased reports or discussions from NPR, please send them to me at . Besides Morning Edition and All Things Considered, Neal Conan’s Talk of the Nation, which reaches millions, appears to offer plenty of low hanging fruit.  I am interested not only in bias based on word choice, but also outright falsification and coverage of only one side of an issue, often using two guests who in fact agree on basics which go unquestioned, a very effective form of propaganda.  China bashing, Russia bashing, Iran bashing and Muslim bashing are especially worth being on the lookout for. 

 Let us see whether we can move NPR to change its ways.



John V. Walsh can be reached at

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”