music and politics on radio

Donna Halper
Sun Sep 19 13:39:34 EDT 2004

Dan B wrote--

>The thing that stood out to me in the NPR stories was there was no mention 
>of free speech, artistic freedom, silencing of minority views, ect. that 
>came up during the Dixie Chicks controversy.  Now I do not mean to equate 
>what Maines said to this guys lyrics but its is interesting that artistic 
>freedom tends to be more respected depending upon whose ox is being gored.

A couple of things.  First, using one feature to judge an entire network or 
station isn't the best measurement.  I've found NPR is starting to lean 
much more moderate and even a tad conservative on *some* of its reporting-- 
it's no longer accurate to assume NPR is left-wing all the time.  This is 
based on my listening to a number of features and reports, which now 
include several conservative commentators who are now regular pundits for 
NPR (and by the way, I have no problem with including *all* views on NPR; I 
think they are unfairly stereotyped as left-wing... I find them left-wing 
only on certain issues, such as being anti-the Iraq war and anti-Israel; 
and it's pretty clear they don't worship Mr Bush, yet their reporting on 
him has been generally balanced and even positive sometimes, making some 
people wonder if NPR is making a concerted effort to speak well of him so 
congress won't cut their funding!)

But Dan makes the point I was trying to make when I started this thread-- 
should program directors and owners apply the "ideology test" to music-- if 
a singer has a pro-Bush and the war record, it gets played, but an 
anti-Bush and anti-war record doesn't? (And vice versa, of 
course.)   Again, let's not drift into a political debate-- this is a 
programming issue. I consulted a station where the owner refused to play 
any songs by artists he felt were "anti-American"-- and I found that a 
puzzling standard, since I think we in the media stir this stuff up much 
more than John or Jane Average listener.

And finally, regarding "Sweet Home Alabama", I am not sure the song is 
racist-- it's an answer song to Neil Young's "Southern Man" which accused 
Alabamans of being bigoted yahoos who support lynching, and Skynyrd was 
simply defending their state and trying to refute what Young had accused 
them of.  

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