August 12, 2006

Cokie Roberts On The Culture of Washington, DC

When I first started to actively follow NPR just before the first Gulf War, I was impressed with the smart ladies of the radio. There was Nina Totenberg, Linda Wertheimer, and Cokie Roberts - all who had their start in radio when women were just barely breaking into public life. NPR was such a breathe of fresh air then that I was instantly a fan and strong supporter.

Today, I have to say that although I'm still an obsessive listener of Public Radio and NPR, I have little respect for Cokie Roberts. I don't know who's changed more - her or me. But, this analysis of the Washington culture from the late '90s is one of the reasons I feel like Cokie has long reached the point when we should let her retire "voluntarily" rather than continue on letting her make such a fool of herself.

"This is a community in all kinds of ways," insisted Ms. Roberts, whose husband was a pundit, whose parents both served in Congress and whose brother is a high-powered corporate lobbyist. "When something happens everybody gathers around. . . . It's a community of good people involved in a worthwhile pursuit. We think being a worthwhile public servant or journalist matters."

Yes, Cokie, some of us still think that public service, something that the current Republican Congress, Administration and even Court has seriously damaged, is worthwhile. It's too bad that good public servants are being canned so that Republican greedy bastards can get millions simply by selling Americans down the river. Or all those high-minded journalists in DC who are building their career by parroting the Republican talking points because they know which side the bread is buttered on. The message is: sellout to the Right-Wing or find yourself out of a job or prosecuted for treason.

So, who do you stand up for, boss lady, when you open your yap on Morning Edition Monday mornings or ABC's Sunday show, This Week? Nowadays, Cokie is one of the first to spout Republican Talking Points and to spread the word that liberals are both dangerous and weak. I'd like to see a shame campaign where people who pontificate on "moral and correct behavior" in Washington are outed for their hypocrisy when they enable the biggest heist on the public treasury this country has ever known. That way, someday they might just get it.

And about that suggestion of "retirement" for Cokie? It appears that Eric Alterman had the same idea, but he also added Broder to his list of useful fools that need to find another reason for getting up in the morning. I hardily agree.

Posted by Mary at August 12, 2006 08:43 PM | US Politics | Technorati links |

Cokie has changed. She seems less studied, more arrogant and more biased. I used to like her but can't stand her now.

Posted by: coitdeck at August 12, 2006 10:27 PM

cokie roberts hasn't been a decent reporter since sometime in the 1980s. being in washington turns even the best reporters into hacks after long enough ... as the career of former pacifica reporter richard gonzales was a great example. he didn't start doing good work again until he left DC. mara liasson is another good example of what too much time in DC can do. from being a good reporter at pacifica's berkeley station, she's turned into a public embarrassment.

personally, i think that -- with extremely rare exceptions -- it would be a good idea for reporters to get rotated out of washington for awhile every five years or so. the expertise reporters can gain from their time as DC correspondents is more than outweighed by the ways in which the washington scene can turn them into little more than mouthpieces for the political ideology du jour.

Posted by: magpie at August 13, 2006 01:31 PM

It's the water. I keep seeing good people go to Washington and then become these self-serving freaks. How else can you explain the Washington media and Congress?

Eric Alterman has been very unimpressed with Cokie for a long time.

Posted by: Easter Lemming at August 13, 2006 08:18 PM

The Cokie Roberts Story parallels the great American turn away from truth. Back in the Seventies, Dan Rather was an honest reporter for CBS, Cokie Roberts the same for NPR. When the right began its take-over and the country elected Reagan president, Rather began to employ the use of a seriously false smile while reporting, looking into the camera like Howdy Doody.... Roberts began her descent into the first ring of Hell where her arrogant demeanor was polished and her sites were set on making some serious money. Thanks for writing something about Cokie Roberts that hits the mark.

Posted by: gregg at August 14, 2006 07:11 AM

I'm sorry -- I thought Cokie Roberts's main job was being a mug on "Hollywood Squares".

Posted by: Scorpio at August 14, 2006 07:19 AM

I really despised how she characterized Lamont's win as a disaster for the democratic party on this week on abc. She was trying to make the point his antiwar position wasn't mainstream and he was pushing the party to the left. The guy is a businessman and very moderate. How she can think being antiwar is outside of the mainstream at this point is beyond me. Luckily, Sam Donaldson was quick to correct her false assertions.

Posted by: Ryan at August 14, 2006 09:55 AM

I have been thinking exactly the same thing- I discovered NPR while I was living in DC and have become an ardent fan over time. However, Cokie drives me nuts with her condescending repetition of Republican talking points every single time she's on the radio. It seems like most of their commentators are conservative these days- Juan Williams isn't a friend of the left either.

Posted by: Baaaa at August 15, 2006 08:50 AM