OPINION BY DAN UNDERHILL, SPECIAL TO RIPTIDE
I consider myself fairly progressive and I didn't care much for the tone of some of the programming I heard on Air America. Sometime before Air America existed, on Prairie Home Companion, there was a radio play called "Adventures in Ethics" in which a radio personality wrestles with his conscience because his producer wants him to be "the Rush Limbaugh of the liberals." His job was to play as fast and loose with factoids just like the far-right media do. The show was funny because the left didn't do those kinds of things. With Air America, any illusion that the left was above all that sort of vanished. What remains here in the Bay Area is KPFA (Pacifica Radio, no connection to Pacifica, California) and two public radio stations. One thing to know about KQED and KALW is that even though they do present stories that won't make it to Fox News, and even though they often go into greater depth than standard corporate media, they participate in whatever news blackouts the propaganda machine tells them to. If one listened only to public radio stations, one would gather that the people of Haiti are poor because they just haven't been trying very hard. No mention is ever made of our glorious government meddling with their internal affairs or imposing sanctions on them for not behaving enough like the good colonies that American multinational corporations like. Public radio did report that Rev. Pat Robertson believes that Haiti's troubles come from a deal the Haitians made with the Devil over and over again. They were careful to deplore it, but why does that rate air time? Haiti earthquake coverage is a pretty good example of what we do and don't hear about on public radio. One would get the impression that the United States operates on goodwill only, offering selfless service to Haiti, but a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) cargo plane carrying 12 tons of medical equipment, including drugs, surgical supplies and two dialysis machines, was turned away three times from Port-au-Prince airport by the American military running the airport. Interviews on KPFA indicate that what the U.S. is doing is in service of American hegemony first and the Haitian people rate only if there is propaganda potential. We may hear a little of that on KQED and KALW, but we can know they will focus their attention elsewhere if they are told to. Public radio isn't less manipulative than the regular corporate media. It is just aimed at a smarter audience. KPFA is chronically underfunded, but it is tenacious. At a time when investigative reporting has been all but abandoned, KPFA keeps us informed, whether the powers that be want it to or not.