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When Your Media Are ‘Disappointed’ by Opposition to Bigotry

Cokie Roberts speaking at Brookings Institution book club event in 2015.  (Photo: Brookings Institution/flickr/cc)

As the aggressive behavior of his supporters becomes as much of a story as the violence implied in his politics, Donald Trump is bringing together folks who agree on little else to denounce him. It’s true Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have policies in some ways even more regressive than Trump’s, but then neither of them is openly pining for the days when protesters were carried off on stretchers.

Turnout by thousands of appalled citizens led to the cancellation of Trump’s Chicago rally, and a coalition of public interest groups, including MoveOn, Color of Change, Greenpeace and Jobs with Justice, released an open letter calling for a mass Nonviolent Mobilization to Stand Up to what they called a “five alarm fire” for democracy.

So it might not seem extreme for Cokie Roberts, commentator emeritus at NPR, to say in a column that Trump’s nomination would be a “devastating blow” to the US’s reputation around the world.

Nevertheless, Roberts’ column was too much for the public radio network that many insist leans left. So Roberts was brought on Morning Edition (3/14/16) to be admonished by host David Greene:


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Objectivity is so fundamental to what we do. Can you blame people like me for being a little disappointed to hear you come out and take a personal position on something like this in a campaign?

For her part, Roberts claimed to be a “totally unpartisan human being” who is just “very interested in civility.” When Cokie Roberts is your firebrand, things have come to quite a pass. This is the host who gushed to David Letterman that she was  “a total sucker for the guys who stand up with all the ribbons on and stuff”—meaning military officials—and “so when they say stuff, I tend to believe it.” Her advice to Bill Clinton after the Republican congressional victories of 1994 was “move to the right, which is the advice that somebody should have given him a long time ago.”

Which, I suppose, is just to say: Keep in mind that some of the news outlets you rely on hold that being anti-bigotry biases your journalism. That is news you can use.

Janine Jackson

Janine Jackson

Janine Jackson is FAIR's program director and and producer/co-host of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. She contributes frequently to FAIR's magazine, Extra! and co-edited The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s (Westview Press).

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