I pretty much always regret turning on NPR, even for a few moments, and this morning was no different. I popped into the middle of an interview where Matt Schlapp of the American Conservative Union was being interviewed by NPR's Rachel Martin.
You can read the transcript of the interview here or listen to it. I copied the critical session of this overtly hostile interview.
MARTIN: Steve Bannon is speaking at CPAC today. He's the president's top adviser who ran Breitbart News, which he proclaimed to be a platform for the so-called alt-right. Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence went to a Jewish cemetery in Missouri this week to signal his support after that cemetery was vandalized. And then pens went on to say there's no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism. Is this the party of Mike Pence or Steve Bannon?
SCHLAPP: It's the party of both. And I know Steve Bannon well. And I think Steve Bannon and Mike Pence, you couldn't find a difference in how they approach these topics. The fact is, is that oftentimes...
Did you catch what she did there?
Notice the manipulation of the conversation. Steve Bannon worked for Breitbart. He one time made an off-hand comment about Breitbart being a "platform for the alt-right" and in spite of the absolute lack of alt-right material or alt-right writers at Breitbart, the media will not let it go. Whatever else you say about Breitbart, it is not an "alt-right" platform. The alt-right has plenty of platforms already. The writers for Breitbart are not alt-right, people who are alt-right are usually pretty open about it. But Martin's question is worded in such a way to make people create the following association: Steve Bannon = Breitbart, Breitbart = Alt-Right, Steve Bannon works for Trump so therefore Trump = Alt-Right. That is patent nonsense but the manipulation is still there.
Then the connection is made somehow between a Jewish cemetery being vandalized and the alt-right even though no such connection exists. According to the Washington Post (emphasis mine):
Police are investigating the incident. Detective Lt. Fredrick Lemons II told the St. Louis Post Dispatch, “There’s nothing to indicate it was any type of hate crime.”
Let me repeat that. According to the police there is nothing to indicate that it was any type of hate crime, at least as of now. That doesn't stop NPR's Martin from suggesting that it was. If you think she wasn't, why the comparison between Mike Pence speaking out against anti-Semitism versus Steve Bannon allegedly being a mouthpiece for the alt-right? You can't miss this. She is essentially saying that Steve Bannon is different from Mike Pence because Mike Pence spoke out against anti-Semitism which implies that Steve Bannon is OK with it. She is trying to force Schlapp to either reject Pence or to implicate Bannon as an anti-Semite. If you read further in the interview, Schlapp wasn't having it but he also ended up being cut off by Martin in mid-thought.
As an aside, if you are looking for "anti-Semitic" comments you are better served looking at college campuses or Muslims than at the CPAC conference where most speakers are completely solid on supporting Israel.
My broader point is this. This is not a random set of questions, this question was obviously intended by Martin before the interview started. Rachel Martin clearly was planning on trying to creating the linkage between Bannon and anti-Semitism even though it just as clearly is not there. The point of this interview, in my opinion, was not to hear from Matt Schlapp but to reinforce in the minds of NPR listeners what they already have had pounded into their heads, that Trump has ushered in a new era of hate crimes (most of which have been shown to be hoaxes, at least the well publicized ones). NPR and it's listeners are not interested in the substance of the CPAC talks, they just want someone to tell them what they want to hear, that Trump is a racist, that Bannon is secretly in charge of the White House and that he is an agent of the alt-right, a loose knit movement that I am confident Rachel Martin and NPR's audience knows next to nothing about.
Pay attention people. The "news" is being used to manipulate you in an effort to secure a Trump loss in 2020. It isn't subtle or covert anymore. It is right there if you bother to pay attention. If you don't want to be manipulated by people who don't share your interests, you had better start thinking for yourself.