How Do We Have a National Conversation?

Friday, June 21, 2013


This week, President Obama told Charlie Rose that he would like to have a national conversation about government surveillance. Brooke explores what it means to truly have a "national conversation" with the American Library Association's Lynne Bradley, the Constitution Project's Sharon Bradford Franklin, and California Congressman Henry Waxman.


Sharon Bradford Franklin, Lynne Bradley and Representative Henry Waxman

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [10]

Laura from Georgia

I don't mean to flog a dead horse, but you could do worse to start off the show with an interview with Jack Shafer at Reuters (see his opinion piece today). I concur with Mr. Shafer's observation: "Sometimes the story isn’t the story — the metastory is." It seems like the battle among all the parties -- the countries, the reporters, the intelligence officials, WikiLeaks and now even Snowden's family -- is being waged in the press. While the national security concerns raised by Edward Snowden are important, how the media is covering this battle happening on their own doorstep is even more important. This is what OTM is suppose to be all about, right? How can the country have President Obama's informed public conversation about national security if our journalists aren't rigorously doing their job to the highest ethical standards?!!

Jun. 28 2013 08:21 PM
Laura from Georgia

As a long-time listener of On the Media, I really think you guys need to do a full -- and perhaps extended -- show on what the media is doing with the Edward Snowden story. I'm amazed at some of the things I'm seeing. The bevy of journalists camped out in Moscow's airport (not to mention the ones stranded on that flight to Cuba sans Snowden), the journalists attacking each other over how they cover the story, the coverage of Glenn Greenwald's personal life (and the resulting Twitter campaign against it), the "leaks" from US intelligence officials that terrorists groups have changed tactics in light of the Snowden leaks and that the Chinese and Russian governments likely have already seized Snowden's laptops and obtained all his stolen classified information. And that's just what I can think of off the top of my head. This has got to be one of the biggest stories about the HOW a big story is covered I've ever seen.

Jun. 28 2013 11:37 AM

The whole premise of this "national conversation" is wrong. If the President was sincere in his desire for one, why has it taken him 5 years to address the topic?

What he, and Congress, really want is for the topic to just go away. That would be the opposite of a "national conversation".

Jun. 27 2013 09:29 PM
Ramesh from ny

Glad for the program on National conversation. When someone says let us have national conversation, my mind goes to the book 'death of liberal class'. National conversation is a tool used to dodge issues. Example: Gulf oil spill & Banking crisis.

Your guest cited Civil rights as one of the positive achievement of 'national conversation'. I am shocked that he went 50years back and shows how out of touch these conversationalists are.

Rest of the world works without the notion of National conversation. UK and France passed Gay rights bill. Dis-functional Indian Govt. bolstered the existing rape legislation. US is still having National conversation about Gun control.

Jun. 24 2013 05:14 PM
MrJM from Chicagoland

"Ofisher, before you shay anything else, I want you to know I welcome this convershashon about drunking and driving..."

Jun. 24 2013 02:48 PM
Marvin Van Horn from Bellingham

So, Obama wants a National Conversation on security and surveillance and the balance between the two?

Did he want one a month ago?

So, what changed? Why this new found desire?

Well, of course we all know, it took a Snowden to force this sudden interest in a conversation, as your program points out, we are not sure what that means? If it wasn't for Snowden, we would continue in the blind, thinking surely our government wouldn't be doing that, would they?

And the reward for encouraging the much needed conversation, the dogs of so called Justice are unleashed, using the old OLD 1917 Espionage Act, designed for another age, as their instrument to cook up something to try and get him.

As we know, these much needed disclosures have nothing to do with security or espionage, but there is no rage like a bureaucracy embarrassed, and as Senator Graham says, they will go to the ends of the earth to get him. "Vengeance is theirs", saith the Lord.

Do they think we can't see through this revenge motive! And they wonder why we are cynical and don't trust them. I don't need their protection and security that bad to accept them behaving this way.

Obama, your words are nothing more than hollow platitudes to my ears. Sorry mate, but you have lost me.

Jun. 24 2013 01:05 AM

Fwiw, I had been hearing the Kermit Gosnell story (late-term abortion doctor in Philly) from the time he was arrested. So I think the assertion that it wasn't getting any play isn't exactly true. What does seem true is that it didn't get big media attention until it could be wrapped up in the contentious abortion debate, as opposed to talking about women in poverty/desperate situations resorting to this doctor. It really did not end up moving the conversation around abortion anywhere at all, imo.

Jun. 23 2013 04:50 PM
henry from md

Who is the big bad wolf behind surveillance? The Republicans will trump "Government" The Democrats will trump....What? You might assume they should
at least have mentioned "Corporations."
So why don't they, or am I missing something?

Until you take out Money from Politics we are just biting our tails.

Jun. 23 2013 10:34 AM
Woof from Brooklyn

Dear WNYC-

To speak of "national conversations" in the sense that a topic/situation/problem should be openly, frankly, and publicly discussed by diverse, popular, and widespread media groups, I would love to see at the "national" level an open and honest discussion of child abuse and childhood sexual abuse join the list.

Many issues merit this kind of discussion and would love to see this added.

Jun. 22 2013 12:22 AM

A national conversation is whatever a partisan media says it is depending on what they wish to hype or ignore.

That's the reason there was little or no national conversation about late-term abortion relating to the Philadelphia doctor trial and a media unwilling to report and analyze the trial at length compared to other news stories.
Was that national conversation and awareness deliberately suppressed for political reasons?
Apparently there was little appetite to eat through the entropy and lead to change on that issue.
Maybe that was the idea and explains why the media ignored or downplayed it as long as they could.

Jun. 21 2013 09:29 PM

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