Sunday, September 04, 2011

Our Miss Priss (Ann, Ava and C.I.)

Friday's second hour of The Diane Rehm Show, the 'international' hour, was a non-stop embarrassment.

The Diane Rehm Show

Conversations were disjointed and worst of all was Diane The Scold, Our Miss Priss, surfaced to condescend to a caller.

Returning from the break, Diane declared, "Welcome back to the international hour of our Friday News Roundup this week with Anne Gearan, national security correspondent with the Associated Press, David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times, James Kitfield, senior correspondent for National Journal. You can join us by phone, you can send us an e-mail, join us on Facebook or send us a Tweet. James Kitfield, the fact that there were no US troop fatalities in August, how come?"

Presumably, the answer would be: Because none died.

It's not a great mystery.

But which country Diane was speaking of was a mystery.

So eager to rush through the topic of Iraq was Diane that she failed to even identify which war zone she was speaking of.

The fact that zero troops died in Iraq was seen as a success and reason to move on over to Afghanistan after that factoid. No mention was made of the 395 Iraqi civilians who died in August, as counted by Iraqi Body Count, or the 800 injured.

How disgusting.

Diane would later claim in the show that she wanted a civilized conversation. We think a civilized conversation about war has to include Iraqis.

We think an informed and civilized conversation about what took place in August 2011 includes the fact that 56 US military personnel have died in the Iraq War since August 31, 2010. That's when, pay attention, Diane, Barack Obama declared an end to combat operations. After the end of 'combat operations,' 56 US service members have died.

That ugly reality was ignored in what can only be described as a Barbara Bush moment on Diane's part.

She and her panelists engaged in the lie that US forces are leaving Iraq at year's end. No one knows if that's happening. August 2nd, the Iraqi government announced they were in negotiations with the US government to extend the US military stay (but to call any who stayed "trainers").

It was the biggest waste of air time and the most unintelligent discussion NPR may have yet aired and that's truly saying something.

It was so bad that we were reminded of's Kelley B. Vlahos' observation about a CNAS Conference:

On the contrary, the morning alone was akin to driving around in the car listening to the Friday round-up on NPR's Diane Rehm Show. You know, the kind of radio banter for which you
're not likely to miss anything if you pop outside to pump gas or pick up the dry cleaning. That's because it's about all about the title and the self-important tone, and not about depth or nuance, or what they call "value-added" knowledge. Watch out CNAS, you're practically there.

And Diane's program was born there.

It's become such a parrot of conventional wisdom that facts no longer matter and you can 'cover' an 8-year and counting illegal war with just a few sentences. It's become so boring that only Diane getting all fussy in her old age on air can pass for an 'interesting' moment.

From Friday's show:

Diane Rehm: All right. Let's go to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Good morning, Lewis. Go right ahead, please. Lewis, are you there? Okay, to St. Louis, Missouri. Let's go to Darrell.

Darrell: Good morning, how are you doing?

Diane Rehm: Fine, thanks, sir.

Darrell: You wouldn't think that after 9/11 and after Iraq that anybody would believe what my government, the American government says about anything. These are total lies about Gadhafi. You got him to get rid of his weapons, which he had none and now you're bombing the crap out of the country so you can do the same --

Diane Rehm: I appreciate your not using that word on the air. I recognize it's not one of the seven deadly ones, but if you had something to say?

Darrell: You're a coward, lady.

Diane Rehm: I'm a coward? Well, I am a coward in terms of trying to help our audience hear a civilized program. Let's go now to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Good morning, Jose, you're on the air.

Diane's a coward in many ways most days. But she was an idiot as well Friday.

Not just because she banned "crap" from the same airwaves that Terry Gross uses to spew "fa**ot" over and over again. But because she never informed Darrell what word was bothering her. For all he knew, she was offended by lies?

We realize Diane was born during the Great Depression and that computers, microwave ovens, cell phones and, yes, even toaster ovens were new 'developments' in her lifetime, but "crap" is said on TV, "crap" is said on the radio. And if she's going to impose her own little ruling, she might need to start posting those rules.

For example, she could write on her website: "My show is crap but you can't say 'crap' on my show."

Doubt that her show is crap?

May 1st, we published "Diane Rehm's gender imbalance (Ann, Ava and C.I.)." As we noted in that study, in the United States, women are said to make up 50.1% of the population. We began our study of Diane's show with the month of April when she featured 79 male guests and 40 female ones.

Despite being over half the population, in April, women only made up 34.48% of Diane's guests.

May, June, July and August have passed. Did Diane do better?

For those four months, she had 323 male guests on the program and only 165 women.

The total numbers from the start of April until the end of August?

402 male guests, 205 women.

That's not a surprise because we've done these studies before. For example, Terry Gross' Fresh Air made it through 2010 with women making up only 18.546% of the guests. This site has also previously documented the gender imbalance in bylines at The Nation and in guests booked for CounterSpin. One thing that we've quickly learned is this: There is no catch up.

Shows and magazines that feature very few women do not suddenly make room for broadcasts or print editions that feature nothing but women in order to even things up, in order to play catch up. No, the numbers just get worse as the years go along.

So from 34.48% in April to the current percentage of 33.77% is not a surprise to us.

33.77% is the percentage of female guests Diane has had on her show since April.

Yes, that does mean that over 66% of Diane's guests have been male.

No, that does not live up to the diversity claims NPR likes to make -- especially at pledge time when they want your money.

Instead of fretting over terms like "crap" that can appear on the airwaves with no problem (what's next, Diane, barring the use of "ain't"?), we'd suggest Diane Rehm concern herself with her inability to book an equal number of female guests.

We'd argue that, in the 21st century, that's the more pressing issue.

Please feel free to check our math (let us know if you find a mistake -- we're far from perfect). May through August figures can be found in the following posts at Ann's site:

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