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Rep. Barney Frank: NPR cut me off because they didn’t like my argument

By Kase Wickman
Thursday, August 11, 2011 14:42 EDT
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After three decades in Congress, it’s understandable that Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) has a lot to say — too much to say, according to NPR.

Frank gave an interview to Morning Edition Tuesday morning, and host Steve Inskeep had to interrupt Frank, he said, to cut back to local stations. Frank told Raw Story in a phone interview Thursday that he had been cut short because he was advocating for cutting military spending and advocating for saving entitlement programs.

“It wasn’t just that it got short that was the issue,” Frank said. “It was when it got cut short.”

Frank, known for being talkative, said that he’s been abruptly cut off in interviews before.

“I think in this case it was compounded by the fact that he didn’t like what I was saying,” Frank said. “This is a big establishment era, and I’m on a major crusade to say, ‘wait a minute, don’t tell me that we have bases in western Europe defending Germany and France from who knows what, but I have to tell some old lady that she’s going to have to wait to get Medicare.”

The Morning Edition interview was allotted five minutes, which is relatively long for a radio interview, and with a minute left, Inskeep brought up entitlement spending versus military spending, a point that Frank resisted.

“The military budget is larger than Medicare. So demonizing entitlements and saying that – in fact, here’s the deal —” Frank said, before Inskeep cut him off.

“Congressman, I really have to cut you off there. But I do…”

“Well, I wish you wouldn’t ask me complicated questions with five seconds to go,” Frank shot back.

NPR ombudsman Edward Schumaker-Matos explained in a blog post Wednesday evening that the five minutes allotted for Frank to speak had run out. In response to the incident, NPR received more than 300 letters from listeners, most of them unhappy that Inskeep had cut in.

“Barney Frank is famous among journalists for being both loquacious and intelligent,” Schumaker-Matos wrote. “Having interviewed him myself years ago as a cub reporter for the Quincy Patriot Ledger in his Massachusetts district, I can attest to his enthusiasm for policy and to how difficult he is to stop once he starts talking.

“I, too, wanted to hear more about what Frank was saying about entitlements versus defense spending, but the clock is merciless.”

Frank said that he would go back on Morning Edition if he was invited.

“I’d make sure to get right to my point next time,” he said.

Kase Wickman
Kase Wickman
Kase Wickman is a reporter for Raw Story. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and grew up in Eugene, OR. Her work has been featured in The Boston Globe, Village Voice Media, The Christian Science Monitor, The Houston Chronicle and on NPR, among others. She lives in New York City and tweets from @kasewickman.
 
 
 
 
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