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NCFM Member Ray Licht response from NPR Ombudsman adds more evidence of sexism!

August 26, 2014
By

By Ray Licht

nprNCFM NOTE: NCFM filed a formal complaint with the NPR Ombudsman too. We have yet to receive a reply. Anyone who listens to NPR, even for the shortest of time, cannot miss the bias against men, especially on their national shows. How anyone can come to another conclusion escapes me, unless paid to do so…

NPR Adds Evidence of Sexism

I recently performed an informal study of anti-male sexism on National Public Radio. This consisted, for the most part, of examining the pro-female and anti-male sexism broadcast over NPR’s afternoon news radio program, “All Things Considered,” (ATC) during the month of February, 2014. I have counted fifty examples of this bias against men by ATC in my report of the study. (The report, “Why Is NPR So Sexist?,” can be found at http://ncfm.org/2014/04/action/ncfm-member-ray-licht-writes-the-superb-article-why-is-npr-so-sexist/. I believe that I showed strong evidence of the validity that NPR is biased against men.

Edward Schumacher-Matos, the ombudsman for NPR, has responded to charges of sexism by me and others with the column “Sexism, Only This Time About Men,” which can be found at http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2014/08/08/338891417/sexism-only-this-time-about-men.   To some extent, he gave both sides of the arguments concerning NPR and sexism. But I believe the main goal for his article was to refute charges that NPR is biased against men. In his critique of my report he agreed with some of my points, but, for the most part, he disagreed with my evidence and my conclusion. He examined five of my examples, and except for one, he found no bias against men. He also detailed ATC’s “Men In America” series as evidence of ATC’s equal treatment of men and women. However, his rebuttal has increased my confidence that NPR is sexist against men.

A quick disclaimer: of course, nothing as complex as a 2-hour daily news program is going to be pro-female and anti-male all of the time. There are counter examples to NPR’s sexism against men. But they are few and far between.

Now then, first of all, even the title of Schumacher-Matos’ column implies sexism against men. “Sexism, Only This Time About Men” implies that the writer of the title thinks sexism against men is very rare. This would confirm a news organization that is out of touch with reality. Or the title could possibly imply that NPR has provided much reporting concerning sexism against women, and it is now time for some reporting on sexism against men, thus confirming that NPR has been ignoring men as men up until now.

Schumacher-Matos had some trouble with some of my words. I said the bias was “staggering” and appeared “intentional.” He disagreed. I suppose these words are open to some interpretation. Fine. Every reader can read both of our articles and decide for themselves whether these words are appropriate.

Schumacher-Matos also did not see the “negative context” of a segment about fatherhood. The segment was titled “Fumbling Through Fatherhood.” That sounds fairly negative to me. The segment was a light-hearted look at a comedian’s self-deprecating journey into fatherhood. But ATC chose to air this report that makes fun of fathers, and it also chose the title of the segment. I believe calling it “negative” is justified.

Next, Schumacher-Matos said this: “A charming story on dating over 50, meanwhile, quoted men and women alike. It was not anti-male, as Licht seemed to think, just because it recounted one woman’s experience with an amorous pretender who was said to be less than mature.” I suppose Schumacher-Matos’ use of the word “charming” is meant to distract from the male-bashing that occurred in this ATC segment on online dating for people over 50. He is correct that a dating man and a dating woman were quoted in the story. But the quote from the woman was anti-male. And the quote implies several immature male “pretenders.” Here is the quote from the 2/25 ATC segment: “Even though the site caters to older adults, in Cherco’s experience, not all of her dates act that mature.” Cherco then gives one “example” of an immature man who wanted her to spend the night on their first meeting, as if mature couples never do such things. The dating man quoted in the story did not insult women, but talked about the mechanics of using dating websites.

Schumacher-Matos then discussed my example of bias in an ATC story about the most generous 50 philanthropists that appeared in an article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The segment highlighted Millicent Atkins, a North Dakota farmer who donated $37 million upon her death. Schumacher-Matos said: “To complain that the story wasn’t about male donors who gave more, seems to me to be, well, a bit crabby.”   But that was not my point at all. My complaint was that ATC purposely looked for a woman to highlight in this story and others in order to boast about women and their accomplishments. The article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy listed 29 men, 18 couples and 3 women. Atkins was the only self-made woman of the three on the list. (The other two women inherited their wealth.) It is very unlikely that ATC randomly selected Atkins to highlight.

The fact that the media constantly select women to highlight and portray as superior is not trivial. The media also constantly search out women to present as victims, as well as selecting men to highlight in negative contexts. (I gave other examples of this selectivity by ATC in my report.) This results in women receiving more sympathy and respect than men, which contributes to the de-humanization of men. This is not trivial.

Schumacher-Matos made the counter argument that ATC did focus on philanthropists Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, in an earlier online story. This only minimally takes away from my argument. The fact that the Atkins segment was broadcast over the radio certainly gave it much more weight than an online-only story. Also, the online story was about a husband and wife team, and therefore, was neutral as far as gender goes. Besides, there was a large qualitative difference between the two stories—the Zuckerberg/Chan story was quite superficial, while the Atkins biography was very detailed and humanizing.

Schumacher-Matos did however point out an error of mine. I said that the ATC segment did not mention that Atkins was ranked 50th in the list. The ATC segment did mention this. I apologize for the error.

Schumacher-Matos then discussed my accusation that NPR and ATC held men to a higher level of responsibility than women. The pertinent segment concerned President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper Program” which is designed to help minority men. The segment contained a quote that these men should not receive special treatment, as well as an admonition from the President that these minority men were largely responsible for their own success. I pointed out that none of the ATC segments during February detailing programs aiding women contained any such qualifiers. Schumacher-Matos offered the counter example of Sheryl Sandberg as a woman promoting the idea that women bootstrap themselves to success. Apparently Schumacher-Matos could not find a counter example on ATC occurring in February (ATC did not cover Sandberg during February.) Besides, Sandberg is not necessarily a good counter example. I did, find an ATC interview of her that aired on March 11, 2013. But Sandberg offered no bootstrapping solutions for women’s fear of leadership during the interview. The closest she came to any solutions was to imply that men should understand and address women’s challenges, and that women should be supported in whatever decisions they make. In an ATC interview which aired on March 9, 2014, Sandberg did encourage women and girls to have more self-confidence, even though the focus of the interview was for everyone to stop using the word “bossy.” And she also encouraged women and girls to take risks, sit at the table, and ask questions during a January 17, 2014, “TED Radio Hour.” However, several women, including some on NPR, have criticized Sandberg for putting too much of the responsibility to change on women instead of on men and society, thus making my original point that NPR holds men to a higher level of responsibility than it holds women.

Schumacher-Matos agreed that I made a valid point when I criticized a report on the massacre of 59 students in Nigeria by Boko Haram. It was not revealed until halfway through the report that the students killed were all boys, and that the girls in the school had been told to go home. I speculated that if the genders had been reversed, ATC would have portrayed it as an horrific hate crime. I suspect “girls” would have appeared in the title of the segment as well as in the first sentence. (I believe my speculation was proven correct when the kidnapping by Boko Haram of several girls weeks later led to a frenzy of stories on ATC.) But Schumacher-Matos ignored the other criticism I had of this segment, which was that the female reporter was more concerned about the possibility that girls may be discouraged from attending school because of the attack, than she was about boys being slaughtered.

Schumacher-Matos then complimented ATC on its summer-long series, “Men In America.” I suppose he was offering this as evidence that NPR is not sexist. But so many details of this series confirm the sexist bias of NPR.

Even the background of the series that Schumacher-Matos provided in his column points to a news organization that is out of touch with men and their issues. I suspect that the series was initiated to counter several accusations that NPR is sexist against men. But Schumacher-Matos stated that the series was initiated by a female producer who was a member of an online mother’s group when she realized that she did not know how to raise her sons to behave like men. She admitted that she had “no clue” what it meant to be a man. Yet, she was put in charge of producing the series, “Men In America.” She also admitted that after 50 years of change in women’s roles, “it was a good time to take a look at how men’s roles had changed as well.” She thus admitted that NPR had neglected men, confirming NPR’s sexism against men.

Women often complain about men dominating discussions or legislation affecting women. For example, women recently complained about male Senators discussing and writing legislation concerning women’s contraception. But NPR saw no problem in putting a woman in charge of producing a series about men. Many of the individual segments were also produced by women. Of course, I do not mean to say that female journalists necessarily could not adequately perform this task.   But it seems unlikely.

Let’s look at the results so far, as the series is continuing. The series, “Men In America,” is a joke—on men. There have been some good segments but most of the segments have been quite bad. For the most part, the series has not explored serious issues of concern to men such as shorter lifespans, work-related deaths and injuries, suicide, violence against men, homelessness, military casualties, the draft, child custody, inequities associated with divorce, criminal sentencing, education of boys, healthcare, false accusations, and men’s reproductive rights. Instead, the series has been concerned with insignificant and trifling fluff such as father-son car repair, movies that make men cry, being tall, being short, machismo, what movies say about men, wrestling with brothers, being cowboys, male obesity, collegiate virginity, boy bands, fraternities, wearing bow ties, blogging dads, and roughhousing. There was even a segment on how men on a gay rugby team defined masculinity.

Compare these topics to topics in the recent series “The Changing Lives of Women” on NPR’s “Morning Edition.” There are a few puff pieces in this series too, but, all in all, it was a much more serious series.

I do not think “Men In America” is serious reporting. Again, I suspect the series was quickly thrown together just to quell charges of sexism. I also suspect that it does not address issues of real concern for men, because this would show that men are also victimized. Feminists cannot allow this, because this would take away from feminists’ focus on victimization of women, which is being used to facilitate a power grab by women.

Even though the main theme of the series is supposedly defining manhood, the series is full of such feminist and female perspectives as these: sharing housework and childcare, parental leave, domestic violence against women, marital rape of women, irresponsible fathers, men’s respect for women, men not being accountable, male vanity, men’s attitudes toward women, sexual objectification of women, equal pay for women, learning how to be a man from mom, men sacrificing themselves for women, men as overgrown children, the harmfulness of sports and competition, the demise of the Y chromosome, testosterone-fueled hypermasculinity, lack of well-educated men for women to marry, men’s careers taking a back seat to their wives’ careers, men protecting their wives and children, and even well-dressed men. The series has also contained some male-bashing. Instead of interviewing Warren Farrell, who is the leading expert on men and men’s issues, the series has twice (so far) interviewed misandrist-feminist Michael Kimmel, a man who has said, “Perhaps we should slap a warning label on penises across the land. WARNING: OPERATING THIS INSTRUMENT CAN BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR AND OTHERS’ HEALTH.” The series has often been more about how women are affected by men than it has been about men. The series was obviously an attempt by women to define men in a way that benefits women. Women would not put up with any man defining them. Men should not put up with women or feminists defining manhood.

Finally, Schumacher-Matos justified using the phrase “women and children” when indicating that innocent non-combatants are injured or killed or otherwise affected in some confrontation or disaster. He quoted a foreign editor who said that the phrase is used to “contextualize death and/or injury figures.” But the phrase is rarely accurate and should not be used. More accurate options would be “innocents,” “innocent non-combatants,” or “innocent men, women, and children.” Using “women and children” leaves the glaring implication that all women are innocent bystanders, and that all men are guilty perpetrators of violence. Which is not true. Some women also are violent or support the violence, while men often are innocent bystanders.

Schumacher-Matos examined five out of 50 of my examples of NPR bias. In three of these examples he just denied that the examples showed any anti-male bias. In the fourth example he twisted my words into something that I did not say and added a personal attack. He agreed with one of my points concerning the fifth example, but avoided discussing an even more outrageous point about that example. He used ATC’s current series, “Men in America,” as evidence of equal treatment of men and women by NPR. However, a close look at the series reveals even more bias against men. He even tried to justify the implication that all women are innocent and that all men are guilty in language used by NPR reporters. I do not mean to be “crabby,” but Schumacher-Matos has failed in his attempt to refute sexism charges against NPR, and instead, he has added to the evidence that NPR is anti-male.

national coalition for men

The NPR Ombudsman appears as sexist as NPR!

One Response to NCFM Member Ray Licht response from NPR Ombudsman adds more evidence of sexism!

  1. Doug Spoonwood on August 26, 2014 at 7:43 PM

    So the August 1th program on vegan men http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=332329709&m=333745433 has the reporter say “but Catcher [sp?] challenges societies prevailing notions of manhood” followed by Catcher saying “mainstream masculinity is a roadblock to sustainability”. Just in case the degree of misandry here isn’t clear enough, try flipping it around and adding in some knowledge about why women have different iron requirements than men. Something like: “Having higher iron requirements because of your sex is a roadblock to sustainability.”

    Personal disclosure: I’m vegan. But after hearing that guy talk I’d think him about as trustworthy with respect to men as John Harvey Kellogg.

    And I think that if a news program did something on femininity and veganism, it would quickly get seen as not the correct topic, with too narrow of a focus to indicate anything about women in general. A correct topic here would be masculinity/femininity and diet.

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