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tells the truth to power (“Too Much of the Goodness Thing,” 8/2)! The insufferably pompous Diane Rehm places herself on Mount Olympus, above the vandals and rogues of commercial talk radio. A few weeks ago, she had on a panel of guests about the bounds of propriety surrounding political humor. As Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz transparently complained of talk radio’s unfair ridicule of his idol, Bill Clinton, a caller asked if he could inquire who Kurtz and the other panelists had selected for president in 1992. “That question is not appropriate,” Rehm sneered and cut the caller off. Unnecessary, perhaps, but not inappropriate.
What’s appropriate is bashing commercial talk radio. Fast forward a few weeks, and Rehm is interviewing an author about his book on Father Coughlin, the infamous anti-Semitic talk-show host. Rehm felt that, late in the show, it was a perfectly appropriate theme to express that talk radio had a role in the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. Apparently, guilt by association is acceptable if the targets are conservative. How civil.
Perhaps the modus operandi is best illustrated by a personal beef. Last year, Rehm invited on Corporation for Public Broadcasting chief Richard Carlson for 40 minutes to make the government pitch for more tax money for CPB. I called five minutes before the show started to make sure I was first in line with my calm (no doubt “far right”) critique. This is public radio, after all. This was no time to get Carlson to debate a real conservative guest on an issue so dear to their own cushy jobs and comfortable salaries. After being assured I would be on shortly, I waited on hold for 40 minutes while they took two other (guess what—positive) callers. Rehm’s show is not about rollicking debate. It’s about not having her agenda derailed by those who are impolite enough to disagree. “Radio in the American Tradition”? That’s laughable.
Falls Church, Va.