An NPR Disappointment

I am a National Public Radio listener.  I almost always listen to Morning Edition on the way to work, All Things Considered on the way home from work, and the NPR lineup on Saturday morning.  I’ve heard Juan Williams express his opinions on NPR countless times.

When I heard that NPR had fired Williams for comments he made on Fox News, I was surprised.  When I read his full comments, I was even more surprised, and when I heard that NPR had concluded that his comments were inconsistent with their internal policies, I was shocked.  Are we really to the point where making an honest comment about feeling concern, in a much broader context, is sufficient to give rise to a dismissal?  And what exactly are the NPR policies that were violated?  As a listener, don’t I have a right to know what kind of speech codes NPR is applying to its commentators?  (And, incidentally, why didn’t those codes prevent me from hearing countless droning Daniel Schorr commentaries that inevitably circled back to the Nixon era?)

I know that many people consider NPR to be a bastion of liberal bias, but I’ve always appreciated its presentation of the news.  It profoundly disappoints me that NPR would give a long-time, respected commentator the boot for expressing honest views that cannot even remotely be construed as hate speech.  I am appalled to hear about this kind of censorship, and it causes me to lose enormous respect for NPR as a member of the news media.

Let Reporters Report

I listen to NPR’s Morning Edition on my way to work.  I like it because, during my 25-minute commute, I get a pretty good sense of whether anything significant has happened in the world in that last few hours.  I also usually get to hear a more in-depth extended piece about an interesting topic, like what is happening in a foreign land or a developing social phenomenon.

One thing about Morning Edition drives me nuts, however.  I call it “conversational news.”  It occurs when the host — and it always seems to be Steve Inskeep — talks with an NPR reporter in the field.  Rather than the reporter just delivering his report, he or she and Steve will have a stilted conversation during which Steve will inevitably say “I’m confused — didn’t the government just take the opposite position?” or something similar that consciously attempts to move the story along.  My hypothesis is that, somewhere along the way, NPR decided that a reporter just delivering his or her report, perhaps with an interview comment or two spliced in, was not sufficiently exciting for listeners.  As a result, we get the silly back and forth between the seemingly perpetually confused host and the reporter who seeks to bring order out of chaos.

Dear NPR:  Please just let the reporters report!  Don’t waste our time and insult our intelligence with the phony and contrived discussions.  They are exceptionally irritating and detract from what is otherwise a fine news program.