Wednesday, March 24, 2004

REMOVAL WITHOUT A CAUSE. Let's see if I've got this straight. NPR's Morning Edition has some 13 million weekly listeners, putting it in the same ballpark as Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern. Its audience is up 41 percent in the past five years, according to NPR's own numbers. And the host since 1979, Bob Edwards, has been pushed out, with no replacement having yet been named.

Edwards tells the Washington Post that he blames Jay Kernis, NPR's senior vice-president for programming, saying, "I think it's a style thing. I think he's tired of listening to me." Well, that makes about as much sense as anything else, unless there was something going on behind the scenes that we don't know about.

Here is NPR's own announcement of the change.

Nothing lasts forever, of course. But Edwards is still only 56. NPR's drive-time newscasts, Morning Edition and All Things Considered, though not perfect, are by far the best broadcast news programs on the air - far better than PBS's wretched NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

The only good news to offset this announcement is that William Marimow, a former editor of the Baltimore Sun, has been named to a top position at NPR. Marimow is a Pulitzer winner and a respected journalist, so Edwards's removal shouldn't be seen as a sign that NPR is lowering its standards.

What it is a sign of remains, at this point, impossible to say.

SMEARING CLARKE. Josh Marshall is keeping track of the Republican smear campaign against former counter-terrorism official Richard Clarke.

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