Here's an example: search your mind for recollections about the Tiananmen "episode" in 1989. Can you remember anything-- anything at all-- other than that guy standing in front of the tanks? Do you remember who was protesting? Why? The question isn't why you don't remember anything, hell, it was 20 years ago and a solar system away; the question is why you do remember that guy. Are you better off for knowing this? Are you smarter? Or do you carry the false impression that you know something about which you really know nothing? That's the Matrix-- not only do you have false memories, but you get to feel good about being a knowledgeable, aware, citizen of the world.
NPR runs a cult this way. It offers an eclectic mix of topics, selected on purpose to allow you to think you are getting depth. You listen to NPR, and you think you're learning, growing, becoming a Renaissance Man. You're not. Sure, it beats CNN, but that's not a battle anyone is supposed to lose. Its target audience is insecurely intelligent people who want desperately to be intellectual and well read but who don't actually want to read too much. What NPR offers is sentiment; the feeling that you know something. That's why when someone asks you a question about a topic you learned about from NPR, you inevitably answer using the same language and words NPR used. Do you understand? Back during the election, I'd bet people at the bar that I could tell them the reasons, using the exact same words, why they'd vote for their candidate.
I don't think NPR is quite that evil, but it can be quite a time suck.
rbh said in the comments, "I used to listen to NPR, back when I was just a poser, but now I, um, read blogs..."