You know, I'll freely admit that NPR beats its legacy competitors, that compared to any radio or television broadcast it shines like Venus on a good morning, and that with the exception of the Times and the Post--and even those two more rarely than often--it provides better "news and analysis" than any major daily. That's the sort of comparison that a buddy of mine once took to calling a Hitlinmao, a mashup of the 20th Century's great dictators, as in: does it really matter which one was better or worse? Nevertheless, there it is. The NPR view is strictly normative, totally conventional, which is to say almost uniformly wrong, but within the narrow boundaries of recieved opinion, it's as good as it gets. Its cultural coverage is strictly middlebrow, the sort of thing that anyone with a little esprit de soixante-huit would call hopelessly bourgeois. Terry Gross and Lynne Rossetto Kasper manage mostly to effuse over mediocrity. Still, have you read the Times Book Review lately? It makes Terry Gross look like George Eliot.
All that caveating aside, though, the Pittsburgh affiliate is in the middle of one of those interminable pledge drives, and having listened to a bit of it, I've got to say that I'm struck by the newfound (is it newfound?) tone of hectoring superiotiy:
You pick this station because you are the best and your neighbor Sharon is a moron. You like arugula and she eats iceberg wedges. Your mind is a cosmos unto itself. You are the Ubermensch. God is dead . . . or is he? Let's ask this roundtable, the kind of news and cultural programming you only get on NPR. Avaialble as a transcript inscribed on the inside of a commemorative coffee mug, where it will reveal the majesty of human thought as you chat with your friends at the office, for a donation of only eighty dollars a month.They had some guy on today who said that listening to Public Radion without paying for it is stealing. I'm pretty sure he was serious. Reminded me of this poor bastard, somehow.