Presenting polarizing points of view

Like it or not, Grover Norquist is the straw that stirs the conservative drink. He may be the most influential man in America when it comes to the “anti-tax” movement that’s dominated American politics and changed the shape of state governments, including Minnesota’s.

He also really makes people who disagree with his influence angry. A few e-mails that came in while MPR News Presents aired his speech to the White Bear Area Chamber of Commerce today suggests that people don’t want to hear what he has to say and think MPR is wrong for presenting his speech.

Is this they kind of poor judgement we can now expect from MPR after the departure of Bill Kling and Gary Eichten? Count me as UNimpressed!

If I want to listen to Weasel news, I know exactly where to find it, thank you very much!Grover Norquist has ample platforms from which he can spew his dysfonic misinformation to the detriment of our nation, and the continuing reduction in levels of awareness of reality so desired by those who want to hear the falsehoods that ooze from his lying mouth, falsehoods that further reinforce the alternate-reality bubble in which their psychological dysfunctions have them trapped.

That you would waste valuable airtime on MPR to provide him a platform is highly offensive to me. The vast majority of your listeners were already well aware of what he would say, and NONE of his devoted fans will ever become MPR listeners.

WHAT were you thinking?

Greg, Alexandria

Why do you let this man insult people with his lies? Please follow up with a look at this man, Grover Nordquist as to the lies he tells and the harm he is doing. Guilt by association is too cheap for honest radio.

Peter, St. Paul.

It’s a fairly typical response when a polarizing figure gets air time. But it speaks to a larger problem, which is not that the listener doesn’t want to hear Grover Norquist (there’s an on/off button to solve that problem). It’s that the listener doesn’t want anyone else to hear Grover Norquist.

Speeches aren’t meant to be the sum and substance of a conversation. They’re meant to start an ongoing conversation. The program’s format is to air these speeches, just as the second hour of Midday under Gary Eichten did. The program is produced by Sara Meyer, the longtime producer of Midday. She knows what she’s doing.

  • As about as far left as one can go and still survive in this society, I actually *want* to hear what righties like Grover Norquist have to say.

    On a somewhat unrelated note, I’m just wondering, Bob, how MPR squares itself in relation to NPR’s ethics handbook[1] and a “new” policy of avoiding “he-said, she-said” journalism and being “fair to the truth.”


  • Jim Shapiro

    Colbert’s brilliant “Grandmothers eaten by fire ants or marginally raise taxes on upper 2% of income earners” analogy shows Norquist and his fellow no tax fetishists to be exactly who they are.

    Greedy, heartless, unpatriotic obstructionists.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Greedy, heartless, unpatriotic obstructionist whose views should be widely known.

    Sunlight is a great disinfectant.

  • Sam

    I enjoyed the Norquist speech. I couldn’t disagree more with his point of view, and yes, I felt that a number of times in today’s broadcast, he twisted facts, stated unsubstantiated fantasies as facts, and cherry-picked data to support his preconceived beliefs. That’s sort of his job.

    But I’m not a moron, and I like having my own beliefs and perceptions challenged, because it forces me to back them up with logic. Listening to a combative, five-minute interview with Norquist might help convince me that he’s a wingnut, but it doesn’t force me to think about my own values at all. Hearing him speak about his beliefs for an hour allows me to put my own philosophy up against his, and try to discern where each of us might be veering into sloppy thinking. For my money, that’s what makes public radio valuable.

  • Dana

    Edward R. Murrow stated the issue well when he said he didn’t need to bring a liar on his shows to provide balance against the truth. Factually accurate conservative and liberal debate serves MPR’s listeners well: Grover Norquist, not so much.

  • Chris

    I think something that the comments in the original post get to that I don’t think you get at is the presentation of already exposed& priviledged views. I would venture the vast majority of people are fine with the airing of views opposite of theirs, it is just the implementation. Is lying and bile tolerated? Are minority views allowed to be expressed(see the all male congressional panel) ? Mr. Norquist is just another rich white man who is given many venues to express his views. One of the great things about your 5×8 pieces are the highlighting of under-reported voices.

  • kennedy

    Who signs a “pledge” that is incomplete?

    Addressing the tax side of the budget imbalance is only half the picture. The 2012 federal budget projects a federal income of $2.47 trillion and expenditures of $3.80 trillion. If income doesn’t go up, expenditures need to be reduced by 35% ($1.33 ttrillion) in order to balance.

    This “pledge” serves those with income to protect, but includes no information on those who will bear the cost. Being incomplete, this represents an ideology and not fiscal plan.

  • John P II

    Maybe it’s that members don’t want to see their money spent in this fashion, and expect something different from MPR?

    Next week – a speech from the Reverend Fred Phelps, a polarizing religious leader from America’s heartland. Object? Just turn the radio off.

  • Bob Collins

    Reverend Fred Phelps is a nobody and had no influence on American life.

    That’s not at all the case with Grover Norquist as I indicated and won’t bother to repeat.

  • John P II

    Little heavy on the condescension today aren’t we? I would agree Grover is more influential than Fred – it’s the use of polarizing I thought was peculiar. It’s an argument that could be used to justify anything. The comment letters you cited are not suggesting that Grover be silenced; they’re objecting to MPR broadcasting his speech. There’s a big difference and one you failed to address.

  • Mark

    I disagree with nearly everything that Norquist said during that speech and I find most of his reasoning to be illogical, but his influence on our nation’s political landscape is undeniable. I’m glad we have the opportunity to hear differing opinions on MPR and I hope it continues. To those who find what Norquist said offensive I say this: keep in mind that there are people on the opposite end of the spectrum saying the exact same things about someone that you think is providing us with intelligent political discourse.

  • TomK

    I am glad to hear challenging points of view on MPR and hope it continues. Norquist has viable credentials and while I may disagree with his point of view, it is a valid and well-reasoned one.

  • Bob Collins

    // here’s a big difference and one you failed to address.

    I’m listening.

    How would this differ from, say, the National Press Club luncheon speeches?

  • Elizabeth T

    Norquist? Who’s this Norquist guy? Why is everyone making such a big deal about him? I’ve never heard of him – he can’t be that important.

    We do not strive to educate those already in possession of information. We seek to educate those living in ignorance.

    I think Norquist is an evil influence on our nation. But if you are going to despise someone’s politics, I really want you to despise them from a position of knowledge.

    I want to be able to point someone to his speech, to go listen to his unexpurgated, unedited statements. Not snippets. Not sound bytes.

    It is too easy to quote a news source, rather than quoting the person. It gets taken out of context and then taken as gospel.

  • Joanna

    Yeah, whatever. I don’t disagree, Bob, but I did hit the off button, because I loathe the man and his influence, and I already know what he thinks and does. I was annoyed that this was the second time in a few weeks I had to do this.

    As an antidote, my I suggest Samantha Bee’s interview with him on the Daily Show.

  • Jamie

    Was there any analysis or fact-checking done during or after Norquist’s speech (I didn’t hear it)? If not, then MPR should NOT have aired it. If MPR is not interested in getting the truth out to its listeners, then it is failing as a journalistic endeavor.

  • Bob Collins

    // it is failing as a journalistic endeavor.

    I’m assuming you didn’t hear the speech so I assume you’re applying this to all speeches. That would eliminate the National Press Club, Westminster Town Hall Forum, Commonwealth Club, and City Club broadcasts.