NPR explains why it issued this warning but didn't have to issue a warning for staff not to attend the Glenn Beck Restoring Honor rally (emphasis mine):
We've received enormous attention from media of all kinds today about our communication to NPR staff on this question. More press than our coverage of the war in Afghanistan or our investigation of the military's treatment of those suffering from mild traumatic brain injury.There's gold in them thar paragraphs.
Some people are asking why staff shouldn't attend, since these events are just good fun? How serious could rallies led by comedians be? They are asking whether we sent a similar memo to staff about the Beck's Restoring Honor rally or any other recent rallies on the mall in Washington, D.C., such as the One Nation rally.
We didn't get questions from staff about the Restoring Honor and One Nation rallies, because it was obvious to everyone that these were overtly political events. It's different with the Colbert and Stewart rallies; they are ambiguous. But their rallies will be perceived as political by many, whatever we think. As such, they are off limits except for those covering the events.
First, isn't it obvious that no one at NPR inquired about the Beck rally because no one at NPR would attend such rallies anyway, whether prohibited or not? The One Nation rally was so overtly political with unions busing in participants for the express purpose of openly supporting Democrats, that it obviously would have been a hot button for news organization staffers to partipate. By contrast, NPR staffers were chomping at the bit to go to Stewart's rally with all their friends.
Second, NPR reveals its editorial bias by characterizing the Beck rally as "political" but the Restore Sanity rally as ambiguous at worst. The Stewart rally certainly is at least as political as the Beck rally, if not more so, since it's intended to shore up Democratic voters or at least wake them up. The Washington Post , by contrast, also has issued a memo to staff, treating all three as "political" and therefore off limits.
Yet another reason NPR will not be the dominant news force by 2020.
[I made some wording changes from the original.]
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