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March 19, 2011
Harry Reid's 'dogged' defense of NPR
Greg Hengler has posted a video of Harry Reid defending National Public Radio because of a "great piece" he heard about a dog race in Alaska. The NPR justifications by Reid and Sen. Lisa Murkowski are embarrassing, but Reid's summary of the story is truly cringe-inducing
They had a great piece on Public Radio before the race started. It was really very very good, about why you do, why the race takes place, and I wanted to find out if what I understood with that radio piece was valid. Wherever the race winds up was a place that was badly in need of some kind of serum, because there was the illness there-diphtheria, whatever it was, I don't really remember, and they had no way of getting the medicine there, and some person, ah, decided, ah, some person decided what they could do, what they could do without machines they could do with dogs. They took the medicine there and saved all these lives...I hesitate saying this because I'll probably get in trouble, this is a good reason why the House vote was baditative [?] to disband Public Radio, because it was such a wonderful piece, I didn't know that.
Those of us in zip codes where over 90% of the population listens to NPR have been at countless social events where the lingua franca for small talk is "a great piece on Public Radio" that someone heard. We don't usually hear these stories related on the floor of the United States Senate.
Reid is touting the great educational value of this radio story, yet a) he doesn't remember the name of "the race" (that would be the Iditarod, the world's most famous dog-sled race; b) the destination of the race--"wherever the race winds up" (that would be Nome, Alaska, Senator). He's a bit hazy about the disease that the serum was sent to cure, although he does accurately guess it was diphtheria.
More embarrassing: Reid's argument is that without NPR, America would be deprived of wonderful heartwarming stories like this. Apparently Sen. Reid has never heard of Steven Spielberg's movie Balto (1995) about the courageous sled dog bringing serum to Nome in 1925, followed by Balto II (2002), and Balto III (2004). Scenes from the first movie were filmed in Central Park, and the bronze statue of Balto is a well-known New York tourist attraction. Balto's story is also told in dozens of children's books. Not exactly an NPR exclusive.