NPR – Nationalist Public Radio?


I thought I might lose my Trader Joe’s Blueberry Muesli this morning, listening to Adam Davidson chat with Morning Edition co-host Ari Shapiro about free trade, Colombia and the US election. Their 4-minute conversation is ickily chatty (“Hey Adam, hey Ari”) and unbearably arrogant and US-centric. Adam contends that making a big fuss over trade agreements with Colombia is, in his words, “nutty” because Colombia is just too small to matter: “I did the math and… the entire Colombian economy is the size of Hollywood, Florida, not Hollywood, California” They both laugh. Indeed, what could be more entertaining than living in a country where the per capita gross domestic product is less than $20 a day?

So, Ari persists, why do US politicians care about this silly little country, since only “some people here and there” (Adam’s words) will be affected by any trade deals? Well apparently, unions are upset because a lot of union leaders get killed there, but as Adam goes on to observe in the same cheerful “gosh-how-silly” voice, “a lot of people get killed in Colombia, it’s a very violent society.” Wow, that’s even funnier than being poor!

The hilarity continues as Davidson notes that in some states “trade is a big, big deal” even though those foolish voters are just wrong about trade being the reason they lost their jobs. Davidson presumably thinks that American voters in those states may be almost as stupid as the people who choose to live in poor, violent Colombia.

I’ll leave union members and residents of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio to defend themselves against Davidson’s flip dismissal of their concerns. On behalf of the rest of the world, though, I urge NPR to make both Ari Shapiro and Adam Davidson spend a few hours learning something about Colombia. Wonderful place to start is on Global Voices, which will steer them to a heart-breaking series of short videos on the struggles of a brave group of women to fight back against the violence and economic hardship in the Barrancabermeja region, home to the country’s biggest oil refinery. Hey, did Davidson really fail to mention that petroleum accounts for almost 30% of Colombia’s exports? Yup, I listened one more time to be sure.

This offensive piece of “analysis” (perhaps that’s just another word for “filler” at Morning Edition?) added nothing to our understanding of trade issues or the election politics it was supposedly about, while actively encouraging the worst sort of American closedmindness. Which public is public radio aiming for?

Photo: Bogotá
2600m + montañas paisas…
Uploaded on December 27, 2006
by One*mandarino
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