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NPR angst: entitlements, cutting off Barney Frank, gay conversion therapy

NPR’s new ombudsman Edward Schumancher-Matos is cranking out a slew of interesting posts, of late. Among them:

Barney Frank

Did Barney Frank (D-MA) get the hook in an NPR QA?

Is “entitlements” an appropriate word to use in news stories describing social security?

“A pension is not something you are entitled to, it is something that belongs to you,” one listener wrote to NPR in response to numerous stories on the budget crisis. “The same applies to insurance policies, which include Medicare. Medicaid could be fairly called an entitlement. But it is prejudicial to the argument when the larger programs are referred to as something that sounds undeserved.”

To which NPR Senior Washington editor Ron Elving responds:

‘Entitlements’ are government checks people receive because they are ‘entitled’ to them by law. Thus Social Security and Medicare are called entitlements, and they are the largest programs in the category. When people refer in passing to ‘reforming entitlements’ they are usually talking about these two programs. And of course, tens of millions feel especially ‘entitled’ to these payments because they have paid into the funds throughout their working lives.

Was Representative Barney Frank cut short in a recent NPR interview?

Lots of NPR listeners complained that he was in a recent QA with Steve Inskeep.

“Does Mr. Inskeep just want sound bites?” protested one listener. “I was listening and found the response interesting until Mr. Inskeep cut Mr. Frank off rudely.”

Inskeep replied:

Thanks for listening, and for sharing your concerns. The five-minute interview in question went down to the final second before we were required to cut away to local stations. The issues in the news right now are complicated, and also very important; and even though NPR interviews are much longer than most, the available time is sometimes not enough. Fortunately we do a lot of interviews on important subjects, with a lot of people, and as I said on the air, we will gladly invite Congressman Frank back again at a suitable time.

Should NPR have run a “balanced” story on so-called “gay conversion” therapy?

“There is no debate in psychological circles regarding reparative therapy,” yet another NPR listener complains. “The major professional organizations are unanimous in condemning it. The presentation this morning was nothing but false equivalence, ‘he said she said’ nonsense . . . Heinous journalism, just heinous.”

Read NPR’s lengthy response here.



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