Sunday, May 02, 2010

Terry Gross Hates Women (Ava, C.I. and Ann)

Dead, jazz or smutty.

Those are the the three categories that most easily allow you be noted on Fresh Air if you're a woman. Be dead or be smutty. Or sing jazz! Smutty, not funny, just smutty and 'cutting edge' in Terry Gross' mind. You know about as 'cutting edge' as her ridiculous haircut was . . . forty years ago.

Terry Gross

You grasp that quickly when you listen to a month of Terry's on air babbling. If you're willing to subject yourself to her garbage, you also quickly grasp that (in her mind) men are experts on everything but women can only speak about their own lives. When she wants to talk history, current events, the arts or any topic, it's usually time for her to hunt down a man. But women can be brought on to talk about something they just did -- a TV show, a movie, etc. Terry doesn't seem to know any women interested in the world around them -- possibly reflecting the type of woman Terry herself is.

In April, she had 22 hours of NPR to fill Monday through Friday. So how'd she do? How's this woman NPR's ombudsperson refused to call out, whose program she refused to include in the 'study,' doing? Not too damn good.

Let's start with the women -- mainly because Terry always puts us last and also because it's so much easier to cover since there are so few. April 1st, Terry interviewed actress Toni Collette about Toni's career for 21 minutes and 19 seconds. April 14th, Barbara Strauch, New York Times journalist and book author, joined Terry to discuss the human brain for 32 minutes and 24 seconds making her (a) the only woman brought on to discuss any topic other than herself and (b) the longest (air time) interview with a woman. Now please note, unliked minor 80s celebrity Peter Wolf, she didn't get the full show (45 minutes, 11 seconds), unlike Richard Clark (self-appointed terror 'czar), she didn't get the full show (April 19th, 45 minutes, 3 seconds), etc. But at 32 minutes, she got more air time than any other female guest. She certainly got more time than Catherine Russell, brought on to discuss her backup singing and her transition into singing jazz on April 16th (21 minutes and 1 second). April 22nd, found Terry chatting with basic cable celeb Sarah Silverman about such issues as Silverman's years of bed wetting (20 minutes and 46 seconds). And April 28th, she spoke with jazz singer Stephanie Nakasian. So to recap, the month of April, when Terry had to fill 22 daily hours of air time found Terry interviewing one actress (Collette), two singer (Russell and Nakasian) and one cable celeb (Silverman) as well as one woman (Strauch) who spoke of something other than her own experiences. Twenty-two hours and only five women were interviewed -- only one of which was given over a half hour (2 minutes and 24 seconds over) on Terry's hourly show.

Five women is shameful. Terry would no doubt insist that other women were noted. Yes, they were. The five women are not the only women who 'appeared' on Terry's show. That's just all the ones who were still alive. April 7th, she noted the death of Wilma Mankiller who had been Chief of the Cherokee Nation and the first woman who was 12 minutes and 2 seconds. Dede Allen, film editor, also passed away last month and, on April 23rd, Terry 'remembered' her with 13 minutes and 53 seconds of air time.

So five living women appeared and two women who died during the month did as well via clippings of previous interviews. By contrast, how many men appeared? And how often were they talking about their own lives? Men were allowed to weigh in on everything because, in Terry's world, men are experts on everything while women just know about their own personal lives.

April 1st, Edward Jay Epstein was a guest for 9 minutes and 20 seconds because . . . only a man can discuss the movies? April 2nd it was time to speak to three men -- two of them Iraqis -- about a documentary on their heavy metal band -- and at 33 minutes, they got more air time than the only female 'expert' of the month. April 5th saw the show devote 37 minutes and 36 seconds to two men from a TV show -- an HBO show. The human brain and its female expert (the only woman offered as an expert in April) got less air time than the 'manly' soap opera Treme. April 6th, Richard Phillips talked about (39 minutes) being kidnapped by pirates. April 7th, Terry spent 33 minutes and 9 seconds on a skinhead (male, but that should go without saying). April 8th found the show devoting 21 minutes and 9 seconds to Johnny Gimble (fiddler) and 13 minutes and 31 seconds with book author George Prochnik. Apparently needing an excuse to wear her jock and protective cup to work, April 9th found Terry granting 20 minutes and 40 seconds to former baseball players Reggie Jackson and Bob Gibson and 18 minutes and 51 seconds to author Bruce Weber (discussing umpires). April 12th found Terry speaking to Peter Wolf (45 minutes 11 seconds) who was most famous in the 70s for being Faye Dunaway's husband (Terry never asked) and in the eighties finally found a hit (the sole hit) with "My Angel Is A Centerfold." Not since she gushed a few months back over the 'levels' to the hair metal nonclassic Slippery When Wet has Terry seemed so musically stunted. April 13th, she chatted (37 minutes and 37 seconds) with Jeff Shesol about the Supreme Court. The 14th, we've already noted (human brain, sole female expert). April 15th, Jeff Goodell chatted away for 27 minutes and 9 seconds about the planet. April 16th it was time for musical history so Terry needed a man (Ken Emerson) for 19 minutes and 3 seconds. April 19th, Terry turned the whole show over to a man, Richard Clarke, as previously noted, for 45 minutes and 3 seconds. April 20th, she also turned the entire show over to a man, 42 minutes and 27 seconds, Dexter Filkins -- aka Falluja liar -- to spin on Afghanistan. With the month winding down and Terry fearful that women might have soaked up too much air time, she did her third show in a row featuring only one guest, for the hour on April 21st, and, of course, it was a man, Stephen Sondheim (46 minutes, 46 seconds). April 22nd, she spoke with Duff Wilson about smoking and the FDA. Apparently having tired herself out from doing research (as opposed to using Wikipedia, as she confessed to on air earlier this year), Terry needed April 23rd off so she re-aired her February interview with James Cameron (20 minutes and 14 seconds). April 26th, she interviewed her longtime friend, a killer who never expressed remorse or even mentioned the woman he killed by name during the 38 minutes and 32 second interview. April 27th, it was time to chat with Ken Auletta for 20 minutes and 15 seconds about the publishing industry and never-a-star Oliver Platt about his 'career' for 24 minutes and 46 seconds (most realistic onscreen moment thus far, when he enjoys 'buddy' Matthew McConaughey's bare chest in 1996's A Time To Kill). April 28th, Hampton Sides talked about his new book for 26 minutes and 43 seconds. April 29th, Will & Grace's Sean Hayes talked (21 minutes and 3 seconds) about doing Promises, Promises on Broadway. April 30th, she devoted 33 minutes, 53 seconds to Bill Moyers.

Men can weigh in on anything with Terry. They're experts on terrorism, on movies, on music, on publishing, on pretty much every damn thing. But Terry doesn't know women who can talk about topics other than themselves. How many living women appeared on the program in April? Five. How many men? 28.

That's 15%. Women made up 15% of the guests on Terry Gross' show in April. That's pathetic. Much earlier this month, this site called out the pathetic ombudsperson's 'study' of (some) NPR programming. Let's return to that pathetic 'study' (which deliberately omitted The Diane Rehm Show and Fresh Air).

Focusing on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, Alicia Shepard wrote, "Those figures are equally discouraging. NPR listeners heard 2,502 male sources and 877 female sources on the shows we sampled. In other words, only 26 percent of the 3,379 voices were female, while 74 percent were male."

Only 26% was "discouraging" to Alicia?

Try 15%.

And trying doing your damn job.

Alicia Shepard wanted to grandstand on the nice and easy. She wanted to call out the news programs -- where women with the programs (pay attention men working on those two shows) had already complained to Alicia. That's why she studied those programs and she refused to take on Gross or Rehm. She knew that for every Steve Inskeep that might object on one of the two programs, a number of women would side with her (because they'd already spoken to her -- when forced, we will tell tales out of school).

As Steve Inskeep (Morning Edition) pointed out to Shepard after the 'study' was published, she was measuring every voice that appeared on Morning Edition which included snippets of Barack Obama's speeches because they are a news program and he is president. His point was that events dictated some of who would be heard on a news program. By contrast, we note that Terry Gross determines her own guests. And she determined that men would make up 85% of her guests for the month of April and that women would only make up 15%. 'Current events' did not force her hand.

Maybe you're wrongly thinking that Terry used her posse of critics to make up for the gender imbalance or to at least lessen it? If so, you're apparently unaware that the show has ten regular critics and nine of them are men such as Ed Ward who started the month off with a 9 minute and 20 seconds look back at Wilson Pickett's music. April 2nd saw Ken Tucker blather on for six minutes and 30 seconds about non-hit wonders Drive-by Truckers while David Edelstein yammered away about Clash of the Titans for 6 minutes and 30 seconds. April 5th saw David Bianculli shoot in his shorts for six minutes and 17 seconds over bad TV (Treme). April 6th, Terry's sole vagina sporting critic (at least as far as we know -- eh, Ken Tucker?), showed up and Maureen Corrigan was reviewing a book by . . . a man (Lionel Shriver, 5 minutes and 53 seconds). April 8th, Terry sprayed for any cooties Maureen might have left behind by featuring Kevin Whitehead yammering away about Paul Motian (drummer) and John Powers (5 minutes and 57 seconds on the 80s TV show Twin Peaks). April 9th found David Edelstein raving for 4 minutes and 58 seconds about the bad movie Date Night.) April 13th, Milo Miles 'reviewed' The T.A.M.I. Show. April 14th, Maureen Corrigan returned to review a novel by a woman, Yoko Ogawa, for six minutes and 3 seconds and Ken Tucker was given six minutes and 38 seconds to fondly remember the forgotten Plimsouls -- eighties group that never stormed the charts or the hearts. April 15th found Kevin Whitehead talking up Sam Newsome (sax player) and Robert Hass offering poetry about his dead brother. April 16th, David Edelstein reviewed a small film. April 22nd, Ken Tucker embarrassed himself in a review of Merle Haggard -- like most of Ken's work, this one had huge errors; however, unlike most, it would get an on air correction the following day. April 23rd, John Powers reviewed Persian Cats (5 minutes, 54 seconds) and David Edelstein gushed over Handsome Harry (6 minutes, 22 seconds). April 26th, Milo Miles reviewed Panama! April 29th, Robert Hass was back, this time to wax on about Walt Whitman's "Song Of Myself." April 30th, David Bianculli waxed on (6 minutes, 35 seconds) about Tom Lehrer and David Edelstein about Please Give (5 minutes, 38 seconds). We're counting 19 appearances by male contributors and only two by female. Who knew criticism was so 'manly'?

And you'll notice that the praising went to men. The only time a woman's work was spotlighted in the critical segments was in one book review. Now within country music, Merle Haggard is a legend. No question. But when you've got time to devote segments to 'remembering' the Plimsouls and Drive-by Truckers, you really have no excuse to (wrongly) claim that women don't reach the same level as Merle Haggard. Many woman were far more successful and influential than either of those two eighties groups.

But when 90% of your critical staff is men and male critics are on air over nine times as often as female critics, women's talents are never going to be valued. And it's why Terry's hideous show praises one male weepie after another. These are bad soap operas that Terry's TV critics gush over. Bad soap operas with male leads. And if she had female critics, maybe the work of women would have gotten noted in the last ten years?

Terry Gross is a Queen Bee and it's past time that women stopped supporting this nonsense, stopped pretending that because the host is a female, everything's fine and dandy. It is not fine and dandy and it is unacceptable to feature women as only 15% of the guests in a month. She had 22 broadcast hours to fill, Monday through Friday and she could only find five living women worth speaking to. You don't find that outrageous?

Last week, one of us (Ann) dubbed the host and the program "Testicular Gross and Musk Air" and we think that call stands. And we find it outrageous that the so-called ombudsperson wants to ignore this outrageous sub-par performance on the part of Gross. We find it outrageous that a number of women (name feminists) gripe about this in private but we may be the first to ever document just how bad it is and to do so publicly.
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