20 October 2011

Milton Cross Suspended for Political Activities

NEW YORK, OCTOBER 20, 1972 -- Radio announcer Milton Cross, host of Texaco’s live broadcasts from New York’s Metropolitan Opera since their inception in 1931, was suspended from his duties today, following revelations about his political activities.

According to witnesses, Cross was seen wearing an “I Like Ike” button on several occasions in 1952, and again as late as 1956; later, he attended meetings of the Parent–Teacher Association, a well-known Socialist “front” organization promoting public education at taxpayer expense. Cross is believed to have been a card-carrying member of the New York Public Library, as well, and to have associated with foreign nationals, including Galina Vishnevskaya and Amelita Galli-Curci.

“Just the fact that he was able to pronounce those names correctly” shows the extent of Mr. Cross’ involvement, the head of Discipline, Integrity, Liberty and Fairness in Media, a prominent media watchdog organization, L. Irvine McCarthy II, told reporters at a press conference today.

Even Mr. Cross’ plaque on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
is a red star, a blatant tribute to the Soviets,
Mr. McCarthy says.

“DILF in Media applauds the network for suspending Mr. Cross,” Mr. McCarthy said, “and we will continue to investigate allegations of political bias in his broadcasts. Already I have compiled a list of 57 operas that are clearly un-American, yet they continue to be presented to unsuspecting citizens of this great nation.”

Mr. McCarthy went on to cite the following examples, among the most popular of Mr. Cross’ broadcasts:
  • Madame Butterfly, by Puccini, disrespectfully quotes “The Star-Spangled Banner” and depicts an American naval officer in an unflattering fashion, sometimes prompting audiences to boo unpatriotically;

  • La Bohème, also by Puccini, sympathetically depicts impoverished artists, poets, and a philosopher;

  • La Traviata, by Verdi, glorifies prostitution and premarital sexual relations;

  • Hansel and Gretel, by Humperdinck, depicts starving children and also witchcraft, which is un-Christian, while targeting the most impressionable listeners, our country’s young people;

  • Tristan and Isolde, by Wagner, depicts drug use and adultery;

  • The Marriage of Figaro, a “comedy” by Mozart, mocks powerful, rich people; and

  • Aida, by Verdi, is about foreigners.

    (List courtesy of DILF in Media.)
“Indeed, as I review these broadcasts, I can find very few American values — or names — of any kind,” Mr. McCarthy concluded. “Clearly, a particular set of political viewpoints has been conveyed, every Saturday over a period of many years, to unsuspecting audiences.”

Mr. McCarthy stated that the broadcasts use an array of sophisticated brainwashing techniques borrowed from the Soviets. “The worst of these may be ‘sleep-suggestion,’ in which the unconscious subject receives aural instruction,” Mr. McCarthy said. “After all, who can stay awake during those operas? They could be telling us to sabotage the American government, and we’d never even know it!”

DILF in Media’s team of expert cryptologists are still trying to crack the Saturday afternoon code, known as “Italiano,” Mr. McCarthy added. “Who knows what nefarious messages are being conveyed to our enemies? How long can we permit this threat to continue?”

NOTE: This is just a note of solidarity extended to Lisa Simeone, whose tenure as host of NPR’s World of Opera program was threatened this week because of her involvement, unpaid and on her own time, in Occupy DC — though she is a freelancer employed by an outside producer (not by NPR), on a program where her personal political views are not only irrelevant but darned tough to communicate. The right-wing campaign to intimidate the mainstream press continues unabated, however: Simeone has confirmed that she’s been fired from her other job, hosting a documentary program called “Soundprint.”


William V. Madison said...

UPDATE: While North Carolina statoin WDAV, the producers of World of Opera, have stood by Lisa Simeone, NPR has dropped the show. According to reports in the Washington Post, a spokeswoman for the network said that NPR "disagrees" with WDAV on the role of program hosts: “'Our view is it’s a potential conflict of interest for any journalist or any individual who plays a public role on behalf of NPR to take an active part in a political movement or advocacy campaign,' she told The Associated Press. 'Doing so has the potential to compromise our reputation as an organization that strives to be impartial and unbiased.'”

Yeah. Right.

Beginning November 11, WDAV will take over distribution of World of Opera, a program on the air for more than 20 years.

Lisa Simeone said...

I just stumbled on this and wanted to say thank you. For both the support and the laughs!

You have joined an illustrious cadre that also includes James Poniewozik of Time Magazine and Erik Wemple of the Washington Post, both of whom wrote hilarious spoofs of purported “partisan” broadcasts.

The most important element in all this -- besides the fact that I was, yes, blacklisted by NPR, is that several prominent NPR reporters and hosts have actual, on-going conflicts of interest, yet nobody bats an eye, least of all NPR. Scott Simon can write his pro-war op-eds and make pro-war speeches, and it's all okay. Etc.

Here's the statement I issued to the press last year:

'I find it puzzling that NPR objects to my exercising my rights as an American citizen -- the right to free speech, the right to peaceable assembly -- on my own time in my own life. I'm not an NPR employee. I'm a freelancer. NPR doesn't pay me. I'm also not a news reporter. I don't cover politics. I've never brought a whiff of my political activities into the work I've done for NPR World of Opera. What is NPR afraid I'll do -- insert a seditious comment into a synopsis of Madame Butterfly?

'This sudden concern with my political activities is also surprising in light of the fact that Mara Liaason reports on politics for NPR yet appears as a commentator on FoxTV, Scott Simon hosts an NPR news show yet writes political op-eds for national newspapers, Cokie Roberts reports on politics for NPR yet accepts large speaking fees from businesses. Does NPR also send out "Communications Alerts" about their activities?'

In other words, "All Animals Are Equal, But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others."

Thanks again for the shout-out.

William V. Madison said...

Delighted to hear from you -- and I may want to post your comment as part of a freestanding update on the blog in the next day or so, to be sure that folks see it.

Your experience gave many of us much to think about: regarding free speech, "public" radio, and opera itself.

So glad that you've made it through the wilderness in one piece thus far, I assure you that you've got my support today and every day to come. Here's looking forward to meeting you sometime!

Lisa Simeone said...

I managed to hang onto two radio gigs (World of Opera and Chicago Sym Orch), and I still write for Style Magazine here in Charm City (click link at my name). I continue to be politically active, as I have been my whole life (and as many people at NPR and Soundprint have always known about me).

In a move reminiscent of Stalinist Russia, NPR actually went so far as to purge my voice from existing NPR programs. I kid you not. Christmas, Hanukkah, etc. specials, shows that get repeated every year, where I did only the most minor interstitial stuff -- they purged my voice and had somebody else re-do the narration.

You can't make this stuff up.