And I'm Not Going to Take it Anymore

Friday, August 24, 2012


NPR Congressional Correspondent Andrea Seabrook left NPR recently, citing frustration with the daily grind of covering politicians who "lie" to her face, all day, every day. Seabrook is starting a new project called DecodeDC, where she hopes she can blog and podcast her way to some deeper truths about Washington. Bob does an exit interview with Seabrook to discuss why political reporting is broken, and what might be done to fix it.

Zammuto - Wasn't That Lucky 


Andrea Seabrook

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [24]

James from Massachusetts

Mr. Will,

....lest this discussion go by the wayside (intentionally buried by all of the noise you've absorbed ..since.. this interview)....

Wouldn't you please expound upon your previous comment?

I fail to see how an "engaged electorate" ..can.. be cited in your comment, or how you get to whine about that, or how it could Ever be expected to occur. Especially once one chooses to peddle the status quo notion that no solution nor truth could ever again be advanced. You guardians of the status quo should learn how to make a distinction between businesses; between those that work to earn a living and those that make it their "business" to buy up, and control other businesses in the quest to and consolidate (not necessarily corrupt either absolutely nor er globally) each and every industry and marketplace.

Laziness and conformance will be capitalism's undoing. And true or not in your mind, the Col. Nathan R. Jessup character in that flick was in fact guilty of THAT very code (laziness and blind conformance), not the original USMC one.

Sep. 11 2012 08:27 AM
Will Caxton

brianmulligan: Your stream of consciousness sounds generally commendable, but "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is not anywhere in the US Constitution, Preamble or otherwise. It's from the Declaration of Independence, which sets out general principles but has no legal authority.

Aug. 29 2012 10:35 PM
Will Caxton

Unfortunately, news organizations are businesses and so must do whatever is needed to make money, especially since they are increasingly seen as profit centers rather than being carried as a public service. Further, both the political process in the US are evolutionary systems. In politics, candidates who tell the truth aren't elected, leading to an continuing escalation of deception. Similarly, in the news media, the most dedicated and honest reporters, unable to stand the strain of a corrupt system, leave, so that the pool of those remaining gets worse and worse over time. Other than fundamental reform or a truly engaged electorate, there doesn't seem to be any solution.

Aug. 29 2012 10:32 PM
karen fadden

during my lifetime, this is what has changed most. Journalists should not be playing the game and replaying and reciting the partisan sound bites as news, instead of calling out lies and distortions.
Whether it be newspapers, television or radio( the "old" ways to communicate,) or the internet and other digital rapid-fire communications, i expect NPR and genuine journalists to correct untruths. I whole heartedly agree with Andrea Seabrook. OTM is something i look forward to. How did you allow it to get to this point? The BBC interviewers are superior in drilling down to expose talking points, rather than allowing those talking points to be replayed and repeated without question.

Aug. 29 2012 08:26 PM
Joseph Gainza from Marshfield, Vermont

Thanks to Andrea Seabrook for saying what anyone who follows the "news" knows, politicians, and members of the government lie. The old joke about you know when they are lying when thier lips move is appropriate here. But I think Ms. Seabrook was really talking about the failure of corporate media (and NPR unfortunately) to tell the truth about lying public officials. In the name of "objectivity" these media refrain from providing the reader/listener with any historical depth and corrective reporting when someone lies. Failure to do this enables this culture of obfuscation to thrive; silence is consent.

Aug. 28 2012 04:22 PM

Sadly this is the story of almost every decent journalist I've ever known, although Andrea seems to have hung in there so much longer...

Too bad she's blogging though -- I do love her voice and presentation, & was disappointed when that Weekend gig didn't seem to work out.

The ideal would be for Andrea to come back to NPR incarnated and revived. You do have clout, lady. I hope she takes time to listen to Amy Goodman and others who have found a way to cut through the boring BS and deliver real scoops every day while also making a living. But I would not blame her for a second if she did not.

Aug. 28 2012 02:25 PM
Scott from New York

I was very disappointed in Andrea Seabrook's decision to leave her position, under the dispiriting weight of lying politicians, and I was somewhat disappointed by On The Media's coverage of this story.

If politicians could be trusted to tell the truth all the time (or even with any regularity), we'd have little need for journalists. If politicians were reliably truthful, we could turn on C-Span, or read a press releases and feel confident that we know what's what.

Journalists are important and necessary only when (and precisely because) politicians lie.

Did Ms. Seabrook expect that the politicians would simply spoon-feed her, daily, from a comforting steamy bowl of homemade truth? I am not a journalist, but I should think that journalism school (or on the job experience) would have disabused her of this notion. Why become a journalist if not to expose the truth?

For a reporter to quit journalism because politicians lie is like a firefighter quitting the department because there are too many fires.

Aug. 28 2012 11:23 AM
john lash from austin, texas

Mr Garfield:
Regarding your interview with the representative from MBC regarding their coverage in Syria. Did I hear correctly? You took the questions/concerns of the blogger and then posed them to the spokesperson for MBC. Did you know if the accusations behind the questions had any basis in fact, or were accurate? You must have fact-checked the questions beforehand because you did not letup on the MBC rep nor seemed to believe his answers. So I really don't understand where you are coming from regarding coverage of Syria not available in the United States. You seemed to be implying that these sort of things are done in the Middle-east and not in the United States? Perhaps you bile could have been better asking similar questions to representatives of Fox News or an exploration of the recent Newsweek piece on B.O.
Thanks, John Lash

Aug. 27 2012 05:09 PM
Michael Caputo from St. Paul, MN

The problem is the starting point. When "the day's news" seeks to cover the legislators at the start of the process (and the middle and the end for that matter). Why not take the real stakeholders into account - the people affected by the policy... or affected by the lack of action on an issue. I write about that a bit here...

Aug. 27 2012 11:22 AM

Doesn't a highly polarized electorate with little ability and/or appetite for nuance deserve some of the blame? Sure, some in the media are responsible for way too much re-tweeting (length, effort, depth), but there isn't much of an outcry. Even on NPR's "Intelligence Squared," the telltale rhetorical shorthand and hyperbole of "research shows," "it's been proven," "Hispanics believe" -- are omnipresent. Covering anything in depth requires serious reader commitment, as New Yorker and Harpers essays show. Yet even there the footnote-less style of presenting opinion as fact, or third party reportage as fact, is cause for dismay. What Andrea's arrows strike may not yet be clear, but may they draw blood.

Aug. 27 2012 01:04 AM
Kristy Gledhill from SW Washington State

Wow. I have admired Andrea's work as a reporter for years and now I admire her even more for being so brutally honest. This is also why I love this show. Just listening now, so trying to listen and not type. But wow, OTM, thank you. And thank you too, Andrea! I will be following what you do next.
Thank you.

Aug. 26 2012 09:13 PM

Contrary to what David thinks, there are people who do care about Mr. Romney's tax returns. Until he is more honest and upfront about his time at Bain, this republican of forty years will not be casting a vote for him! And yes, I am sick and tired of the media letting politicians lie and not calling them on it. I'd like to see the debates regulated with a cattle prod...everytime a candidate avoids the question and goes off on their personal sales pitch, they should be zapped.

Aug. 26 2012 08:56 PM

Bravo Andrea Seabrook! Now please make DecodeDC shareable to facebook. Thank you.

Aug. 26 2012 06:34 PM
Bill from SF Bay Area

Andrea Seabrook has said what has been on my mind for many months. Political "news" broadcasts consist of soundbites from politicians without any discussion, analysis or validation of the content of these statements. I find myself becoming more and more disaffected with public media which claims to provide in depth and unbiased news reporting. I can't figure out if this lazy journalism comes from fear of political reprisal for daring to speak truth to power or that the featured celebrity reporters do not have the skills to do more than play the soundbites. I use foul language every time I leave the radio on during the "'News'Hour." I fear that even the public media finds it easier to move with the tide of the times and pass along the partisan sound bites. The current mode of operation is not what I want or expect from public media. I honor and respect Andrea Seabrook's bold move.

Aug. 26 2012 05:35 PM
Zak Mettger from Providence, RI

Thanks so much for the interview with former NPR Congressional having to report the baloney that passes for campaign news these days, she quit.

Although NPR remains one of the few mainstream sources of news I still follow, every time it reports on 2012 political campaigns, I change the station. That’s because what NPR is calling “news” comprises little more than giving candidates a platform to air their latest sound bite.

I do wish Bob Garfield had raised the issue that most concerns me & I’m sure many other well-informed voters: Why, when politicians make statements that reporters like Seabrook recognize as untrue &/or distorted, don’t they call politicians on those untruths & distortions. Take the example Seabrook gave of a 2011 speech in which House Majority Leader Eric Cantor promised to put the country’s “fiscal house in order” by cutting $100 billion from the federal deficit, citing a figure he’d lifted from the went-nowhere budget President Obama had proposed the year before.

Why, at that point, didn’t Seabrook (or another reporter) call Cantor on the deception? I listen regularly to BBC news, & its reporters are much tougher on powerful political figures than American reporters. At a time when we can no longer rely on our politicians to produce “genuine speech,” as Seabrook puts it, we must develop a news culture in which reporters are willing, even encouraged, to speak truth to power.

Aug. 26 2012 03:34 PM

This interview was truly silly. Eric Cantor lied, Nancy Pelosi told the truth in a harsh way, and suddenly they're equally to blame for the deterioration of American public discourse?

OTM has done stories on false equivalencies and stenographic journalism before. What's wrong with you guys, where you'll let Seabrook run that tape without questioning her premises or contextualizing it in the slightest?

Pelosi's statements were made just as the Republican-majority house was voting to defund Planned Parenthood and the ACA. ( Given what we've seen in the last few weeks, does it seem to you that she was unfairly representing the Republican party?

Aug. 26 2012 02:15 PM
Jac D. Bulk

Great move! Americans in general need to question the veracity of all political ad campaigns now given the power that Super PACs have achieved with recent Supreme Court rulings protecting capacity to finance virtually anything they want to without any necessary link to truthfulness. Since it is now legal to flood the airwaves with deliberately false allegations about one's political opponent, all Americans need to turn off all these ads and give them no regard at all. Either use reliable information that you have access to make your voting decision or else flip a coin---either way is superior by far to paying any attention to the Super PAC ads.


Aug. 26 2012 01:02 PM
Arthur Pryce from New York

Good story - but, what Nancy Pelosi said was absolutely true! So, I don't understand Seabrook's problem with it. Was Pelosi supposed to not say something true in order to move things forward with the Republicans? That's been much of the problem with Obama - trying to appease the other side and then getting (predictably) slapped in the face.

It sounds like Seabrook is still playing the journalist-down-the-middle game by trying to blame both sides equally. She needs to step back now and see that almost all the fault lies with the Republicans - and then say so, OUT LOUD.

Aug. 26 2012 11:40 AM
Bob Garfield

Brendon Jones may inhabit any fantasy world of his choosing, filled what whatever conspiracies he wishes to imagine. But if he accuses Brooke Gladstone (who had nothing to do with this week's program) of being corrupt, he has entered a no fly zone.

He is disinvited from this comments section from this point forward. He can shop his libels elsewhere.

Aug. 25 2012 05:50 PM
Brendon Jones from Washington

What irony that Seabrook's frustration with the politicians is aired on THIS program. Seabrook claerly was talking about the media spin as much as the politicians.

Even in her moment of courage, she didnt tell the truth that she was probably being coerced by her bosses to spin as per the politicians' whims.

Brooke Gladstone's reports on the Palestinian issue is SO biased, that my radio bleeds. Their choice of Yasser Arafat's spin in today's program is straight out of AIPAC's playbook.

Brooke Gladstone will very likely receive the usual Thank You gift from AIPAC or Occupied Jerusalem pretty soon no doubt.

Aug. 25 2012 01:25 PM
brianmulligan from middle island 11953

I choose not to live in a country where women, african-americans, veterans, & immigrants are not allowed the rights as listed in the constitution of the united states, especially in the preamble, where it states clearly, "the right to life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness." Also, where it lists "promoting the general welfare." I also choose not to live in a country where the media abdicates its position as "the public's watchdog" & deems itself instead the elite's "rubber stamp machine", thinking it better to parrot the elite corpatist master's propaganda message of the day rather than do their intended job of asking the hard questions to get at the absolute truth. This is not a nation of right vs. left, rich vs. poor, red vs. blue, & on & on. This is a nation of human beings who are to be regarded as equals, first & foremost, & should be treated as such.This nation has been, & can once again be, better in its nature. There are people of integrity out there who choose to live in a truly noble nation & grace itself with the pragmatic ideas & principles that have made america great in the past & can certainly make her great again. My best wishes for building a source for a voice of reason which is sorely lacking & desperately needed if this nation is to go forward boldly into the future. i am glad & proud to join all those who wish to spark this necessary endeavor.

Aug. 25 2012 11:08 AM
Stephen Bloch from Queens, NY

I've long wondered what would happen if reporters distinguished between two kinds of statements from public officials: those that could have been predicted days or weeks in advance based on the official's interests and entrenched positions, and those that provide new information and therefore constitute news.

Aug. 25 2012 07:14 AM

Chuck Todd, disclosed that Vice President Joe Biden’s staff was trying to edit the press pool reports to cover for his lack of rhetorical command. “This is an outrage that they do this,” Todd said.

Finally, Keith Koffler of Said thatthe Administration was dictating interview topics to local TV reporters in battleground states.

That's a real media trend/story. How 'bout it?

Aug. 24 2012 10:05 PM

I was pleased that you covered the Seabrook story. Very good, and insightful. But Seabrook's focus is on the politicians. I was also hoping for a story "on the media."

Just this week, ABC News' Jake Tapper said he “thought the media helped tip the scales” for Obama. “I didn’t think the coverage in 2008 was especially fair to either Hillary Clinton or John McCain. Sometimes I saw with story selection, magazine covers, photos picked, (the) campaign narrative, that it wasn’t always the fairest coverage.”

MSNBC's Mark Halperin told the “Today” show this week "The media is very susceptible to doing what the Obama campaign wants, which is to focus on (Mitt Romney’s tax returns). … Do voters care about it? I don’t think so. … I think it’s mostly something that the press and insiders care about.”

Aug. 24 2012 10:02 PM

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