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Twitter Is Mad at NPR for Getting Mad at Cokie Roberts Who Is Mad at Donald Trump

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | March 14, 2016 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | March 14, 2016 |

You wouldn’t know it if most of your media consumption comes from websites like ours, or MSNBC or Fox News, but objectivity still exists in the media. For outlets like the Associated Press, it’s still very important, even if Justin Bieber’s life now constitutes “Breaking News” for the AP. At least they cover Bieber objectively.

NPR is also an objective outlet, although some conservatives might disagree, because “facts” and “science” often work against their opinions. Meanwhile, some liberals in recent years have also been critical of NPR because of what they feel is an organization bending over backwards not to alienate conservatives (most NPR listeners are center-left, and some of us want NPR to cater to us).

That’s the backdrop to why NPR expressed disappointment in Cokie Roberts — a long-time contributor, often considered the “founding mother” of NPR — for expressing an opinion about Donald Trump. In a syndicated column published several weeks ago, Roberts wrote that “[Trump] is one of the least qualified candidates ever to make a serious run for the presidency. If he is nominated by a major party — let alone elected — the reputation of the United States would suffer a devastating blow around the world.”

Personally, that sounds like an objective fact to me. He is unqualified, and the reputation of the U.S. would suffer worldwide if he were elected.

NPR, however, wasn’t pleased. On Morning Edition today, host David Greene expressed disappointment. “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?”

However, Roberts has been considered a “commentator” on NPR since the 1990s, and while some people don’t understand that (and NPR is seeking to clarify her role), that “opinion” is allowed under commentary, as Roberts explained.

“If I were doing it in your role, you should be disappointed. Or if I were doing it covering Capitol Hill every day. I can’t imagine doing that. But the truth is [that commentary] is a different role. And there are times in our history when you might be disappointed if I didn’t take a position like that.”

Roberts added, “Here is my basic approach to life. I am a totally unpartisan human being. I don’t care which party has the right ideas — or which party has the wrong ideas. I am very, very, very interested in civility. I am interested in government working.”

Is it partisan to call an objectively dangerous man “dangerous”? Is it partisan to call for civility if the leading GOP candidate is creating incivility? I don’t think so, and while I understand NPR’s position, I also think that NPR should chill out.

Much of Twitter agrees.

Not everyone agrees, of course.

OK, that last one made me laugh.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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