Comments: The Stupidest Thing About NPR's Ron Schiller and Betsy Liley

Jonathan, I love your blog, but sometimes you get things COMPLETELY wrong.

McNamara had been president of Ford, not GM.

Posted by mistah 'MICFiC' charley, ph.d. at March 17, 2011 07:05 AM

Ouch, my sides!

But seriously, this guys job (at which, I'm given to understand, he excelled) was to schmooze agreeably with rich blowhards so as to get some of their cash into NPR's coffers.

So even if he realized that no sane person, much less a sane anti-Zionist, could regard NPR as supportive of the Palestinians, Schiller would still have been obligated to smile at the joke.

Perhaps it indeed gave him a twinge, but the thought of the possible lucre drowned out his reason -- has been known to happen.

I like to think of Ron, muttering and cursing himself for failing to act on that twinge. "National Palestinian Radio... what the hell was I thinking!?!??!?"

Posted by Helper at March 17, 2011 07:47 AM

My smile is wry but wide. Thanks Jon! Posts like this have me scrambling to read Our Kampf, again and again.

Posted by Waffles at March 17, 2011 08:29 AM

If we had properly funded NPR in the first place, they wouldn't have hired corporate PR flacks to solicit contributions in fancy restaurants. Where we live, we call it National Petroleum Radio.

Posted by Charles D at March 17, 2011 08:30 AM

mistah charley,

Thank you, I've corrected that.

In my defense, I never promised you a Being-Accurate-About-Robert-McNamara garden.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at March 17, 2011 09:40 AM

What’s so bad about being contempt of most Americans? That is perhaps the only thing NPR gets right and you knock them for it.

Posted by Rob Payne at March 17, 2011 10:06 AM

Around our home it's called National Pentagon Radio. Of course losing Juan Williams was a blow to the Homeland.

Posted by troutsky at March 17, 2011 10:41 AM

Maybe if you hung around people other than fellow Ivy alums, Schwarz, you'd know HOW THEY THINK THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH THAT.

Jesus, you're as bad as they are. Is that part of your comedy, the "I'm as bad as them, HOW FUCKING FUNNY IS THAT?" schtick?

A Tiny Revolution of Superior Technophilic Progressives, INDEED!


(mostly about ourselves)

Posted by CF Oxtrot at March 17, 2011 11:28 AM

Well, CF Oxtrot, in my defense, I...wait, what?

Re this particular post (maybe not others) I think you're fighting with someone and something that only exists in your head.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at March 17, 2011 12:13 PM

Somebody earlier this month called me a techophile somethin-er-other. Maybe that arrow was aimed at me?

To which I have to say, yeah, huh? I'm technically educated but hardly a technophile...

Posted by Aaron Datesman at March 17, 2011 01:26 PM

"Nice Polite Republicans" is the phrase I'm most familiar with.

Posted by ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© at March 17, 2011 01:37 PM

I like the word 'technophilic'--i think it has a nice sound. I'm going to call somebody that soon.


I also like making fun of the Ivy League, and I never went there, though I am proud to be intellectually pretentious and superior anyway.

There is just so much inspiration all around us. I think mistah charley is mostly responsible.

P.S. Robert McNamara was actually a step up from what we've got these days, or have had recently. If somebody had lit himself on fire outside Rumseld's office, as they did McNamara's, Rummy would have probably lit a cigar with him. And if someone did it now, Gates would probably just have him hauled off to the boiler room to help with fuel efficiency and lessen the importance of seizing all the gas and oil deposits in Central and Southcentral Asia.

Posted by N E at March 17, 2011 01:45 PM

Well Its WONDERFUL to see Congress address this TERRIBLE drag on OUR ecconomy day after weary day, so's WE can be FREE to give trillions upon trillions to AIG and the banks. I'm absolutely sure the money saved could USED to zap AT LEAST a couple more Afghan or Pakie kids and maybe, IF WE'RE LUCKY, an old lady or the more deadly, Newly Weds.

Posted by Mike Meyer at March 17, 2011 01:50 PM

OT but related: The violent crackdown by both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas against the March 15 unity rallies in Ramallah and Gaza City is a vivid example of the principle Jon reminds us of frequently: The Iron Law of Institutions.

The fact that Israel and the U.S. have sought to sow the seeds of division in Palestine throughout the past three decades attests to the importance of the strategy [to end the division]. The occupation regime would be under real threat if there was a united Palestinian intifada aiming to kick Israel out of the occupied territories–something that the youth movement in Palestine recognizes.

The March 15 movement to end the division has to contend with two separate power structures (not including the Israeli occupation) seemingly intent on holding on to the perks of power and privilege as long as they can. Both the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority and Hamas have cracked down on the pro-unity protests.

excerpt from Alex Kane at

Speaking of the March 15 events: would any commenter here be able/willing to translate some of the banners at the Ramallah demo? Email me or comment here. Probably there were signs in Gaza but as far as I've been able to find so far, no images at all have gotten out -- the Hamas goons were particularly determined about that.

Posted by Nell at March 17, 2011 01:51 PM

I bet it did set off alarm bells. I also don't care about NPR and am fine with the right wing bagging them and mounting them above the fireplace, so I haven't followed the story that closely . . . . but

Here are the internal NPR memos that do show they were skeptical:

I bet the request to talk "offline" was to discuss the suspicions that comments such as "National Palestinian Radio" invoked. She laughed because she probably recognized it as a silly right-wing talking point that no shady Islamic donor would really engage in and maybe thought the guy was pulling her leg. She probably got suspicious from such comments, as well as the suspicious tone of the whole thing, and hence the focus on their documentation, etc.

Posted by Walter Wit Man at March 17, 2011 02:08 PM

@ Nell

"Palestinian Women Protest in Gaza for Unity"


Posted by Rupa Shah at March 17, 2011 02:39 PM

The real joke with O'Keefe is he thinks he has to "gotcha" these clowns, when their whole job is to pretend to be fake liberals and to deliberately make liberal sounding "gaffes".

Posted by DavidByron at March 17, 2011 04:20 PM

violent right-wing Iraqi morons used to say the new satellite channel Al Arabiya ("the Arab") should be called "The Hebrew,"

You do know Al Arabiya is the place every bush official used to go to show that they care about the sand niggers. Hell obamas first interview after becoming president was to them to show that he was "different" and cared about them. It is owned by the Saudis and the founder has said he wants to be a counterpoint to people who belive that Arabs deserve freedom. Even the Hudson institute has said that they are pro-american.
As for calling it the hebrew it is no worse than calling cnn/fox/msnbc the hrebrew, and just as valid.

Posted by Alec at March 17, 2011 05:03 PM

Or invalid and they really mean zionist.

Posted by Alec at March 17, 2011 05:14 PM

Don't forget that McNamara earned his chops planning LeMay's fire-bombing raids on the Japanese during the Big War.

Posted by Hank at March 18, 2011 11:47 AM

How on earth did that not set off GIANT CLANGING ALARM BELLS for the NPR execs? Calling NPR "National Palestinian Radio" is a registered trademark of America's violent right-wing morons.

Yeah, I wondered that too. I think there are two parts to it: 1) NPR execs really are the cloistered liberals that violent right-wing morons say they are, so they don't spend nearly as much time soaking up VRWM talking points as you and I do; and 2) nodding politely while someone who wants to give you money spews all manner of inane, ridiculous, and offensive stuff is pretty much requirement number 1 on the job description for fundraisers like Schiller.

Posted by John Caruso at March 18, 2011 06:52 PM

Apparently Congress IS jerking just as much as over the exact SAME hustle as NPR did, which IS the EXACT same hustle as ACRON got, which IS the exact same hustle Sherrod got which The White House jerked over. And ya wonder why they call US "STUPID AMERICANS". I'm guessing that its because WE R.
(note to the REST of the world.---WE raise 'em that way here, Folks. NO EXCUSE, WE're just plain corn fed suckers.)

Posted by Mike Meyer at March 18, 2011 09:19 PM

NPR receives lots of complaints about its coverage of Palestine from both pro-Palestinians and anti-Palestinians. You can tell that Betsy Liley was pleasantly surprised to hear praise for NPR's Palestine coverage from a pro-Palestinian. That's not the kind of feedback NPR usually gets from pro-Palestinians.

Posted by Peter at March 19, 2011 05:12 AM