This past Saturday afternoon I was reminded again why I haven’t been listening to this station for a while.

For the past year I’ve actively avoided listening to this station; for those of you who aren’t Washington DC locals, it’s the all-news station. I finally stopped listening almost completely about a year ago, after the voter passage of Proposition 8 in California, which amended the state constitution to eliminate all possibility of the recognition of same-sex marriage there.

The Mormon Church openly supported this amendment to the California Constitution by sending a letter supporting the measure to be read before all church congregations. The Church also owns WTOP as well as other broadcast stations. It is one of the ways in which it seeks to legitimize its role in local communities; by owning prominent media outlets, the Church benefits by avoiding the appearance of insularity, or as I’ve once heard it put, of appearing to be “the great American religious cult.”

But it wasn’t just this one episode of the Mormon Church, the station’s owners, issuing political dicta that caused me to avoid listening to this station. Time after time, all of the stories I’d hear I’d already read online earlier that day. There was also this “national security correspondent” I’d hear from time to time, who could always be counted on to faithfully regurgitate the paranoid imaginings of the American insecurity of the day. There’s also the fact that this station runs the rants of Cal Thomas, a prominent evangelical wingnut, during morning drive time every weekday. Thomas is usually heard on stations like this one, not on major-market secular all-news stations, and one of his other roles is as a fill-in host on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News program.

All I really used WTOP for was traffic reports, and now I have two other options – looking at Google Maps before I leave the house, or satellite radio, through which I wouldn’t even have to wait as long for the next report.

So for the past year my total listening time to WTOP Radio probably totals less than an hour, during times when it just couldn’t be avoided. Yesterday I was out running errands and it was one of those times, when I’d had to remove the satellite radio from the car I was using. I punched up the button for WTOP on two occasions an hour or two apart. Keeping in mind that I’m working from memory, here’s what I heard.

The first time I heard a reporter going on at length about “Iran’s nuclear weapons program.” Not Iran’s alleged or suspected nuclear weapons program, which is the way this subject is generally reported, even in the Associated Press stories on WTOP’s own website. No, the existence of this alleged “nuclear weapons program,” in the context of an imminent threat that might justify bombing Iran, was reported as undisputed fact.

The second time I heard a teaser that went something like this: “Coming up next, John McCain says political correctness is to blame for the massacre at Fort Hood. WTOP news time…”

Who the hell cares what John McCain has to say, particularly when it’s a matter of trying to come up with a rationale for mass murder. Is that a subject on which he’s some kind of knowledgeable authority?

The fact of the matter is that, if I turn on this station for just a few minutes of the day and I find that most of what I’m hearing has basically zero value, I’m not going to listen.

Anyone can play stenographer, finding somebody somewhere that said some thing and putting it on the air as if it’s fact. I expect something better. I don’t need “journalists” to carefully assemble two equal piles of opposing views and call them equal, when clearly one is a pile of shit (generally, lies and propaganda that defend the indefensible) and the other is not.  I can do without the nonsense and the inside-the-beltway militaristic spin.

I’ll be sure to put the satellite radio back in my car soon.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>