I sent the following letter to NPR this morning, regarding its “non-interview” with a former Bush administration employee:
NPR is sometimes chastised as being a mouthpiece of the left, for its slightly fair and occasionally balanced coverage of the shenanigans in Washington. But NPR reporters are sometimes incapable of asking hard questions of members of the Bush administration.
Take Michael Battle, interviewed on Morning Edition on November 2, 2007. He was the director of the Justice Department’s Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, but he is now in private practice. Battle was the one whom Alberto Gonzales told to fire the US Attorneys last year. Battle made it very clear that it wasn’t his idea to fire the US Attorneys. Battle did not want to do it as he considered many of the attorneys his friends. But he did it anyway.
The second he realized he was being told to fire people over their politics, he should have quit. But, as his the case with most politicos these days, Battle simply did what he was told without further question. Another willing “executioner.”
America was not founded by “yes men,” it was founded by people trying to create a better government with checks and balances. Too many people in the government think loyalty to the party in power is more important than loyalty to the Constitution or to the public. It’s an appalling thing to see happening in America, especially since the Bushies came to power.
So what I fail to understand is why didn’t the NPR reporter have the courage to ask this former government employee, “When you realized you were being asked to do something that was illegal (or at least very unethical), why didn’t you quit or take the story public?” It’s important for the media to shine a light on yes men, and not just gloss them over.
Reporters are supposed to try to get at the truth of a story. It was disappointing that NPR failed to delve any deeper on this story.