one thing i wanted to mention about the merck story but forgot (as by the time i finish a long entry i have often forgotten one or two details that i wanted to mention):
merck underwrites on npr.
or at least they did until yesterday. i know this because just yesterday, i actually heard the underwriting blurb just yesterday, with their new slogan about orgasming first and everything. a few hours after hearing that, i heard the big long story about merck's ultra-unethical practices.
so as much as i might criticize the public radio underwriting practice for essentially being "advertising" that they just won't admit is advertising, i do have to say that, at least on this occasion, npr went ahead with a story that was sure to piss off one of their sponsors. and they played the story big, so big that they put up a full text transcript.
how many other media outlets would air a story so highly critical of a sponsor? i'm sure there are some that would, but i'm even more sure that a lot would not.