Culture Tries to Eat Kardashian for Breakfast as NPR Listeners Revolt

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June 21, 2015; Christian Science Monitor

Maybe it was unfortunate timing for NPR to feature Kim Kardashian on a segment of Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! the same week that Donald Trump declared himself a presidential candidate again, expressing his dream that Oprah join his ticket. But the resulting outrage and indignation among those NPR listeners who were deeply offended by Kardashian’s unusual gig on the show, known in part for its mild self-deprecating acknowledgement of NPR’s own elitist image, was admittedly a bit over the top.

According to the Washington Post, one listener wrote, “My first impulse after her introduction on the show was to question the meaning of life.” Another laid into NPR’s ombudsman, Elizabeth Jensen, saying that they found the show “so misguided and offensive, I fear I will never be able to listen again.”

A third (and my personal favorite) observed that, “I think three horsemen of the apocalypse are now fully mounted.”

“Seriously thinking about dropping my membership,” wrote another, getting ready to drop a big load of passive aggression on her former radio companion in life: “I thought NPR had a certain class/values and it looks like we might be heading in another direction that I’m not willing to go with you. Just thought I’d give you a heads up. Have a sparkling day!” (Shades of Nuts in May.)

Personally, I think having Kardashian on was a bold move—countercultural and possibly questionable, but certainly no more offensive than some of the obnoxious self-celebratory TED talks I have happened upon via NPR over the last few years. I usually just mutter a curse and turn the dial, but that’s just me.—Ruth McCambridge

  • Rona Solomon

    I was really surprised at how fresh and enjoyable it was to listen to Kim Kardashian. I had no other exposure to her except tabloid headlines. She was bright, kept up and was very much in the spirt of Wait, Wait.

    • Third Sector Radio USA

      Agreed Rona. It’s too bad there are elitists among the NPR audience, especially the Wait Wait audience, which often pokes fun at such people. The energy getting upset about exposing us to a popular icon (to whom I had no previous exposure, as well, and suspect many listeners share that with us) is better directed to supporting some nonprofit that works for equity.

  • JR

    I’ve already commented before about my thoughts on these quasi-intellectuals’ snotty opinions of having Kim Kardashian on “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me,” but think it’s worth repeating. When one is so fearful of losing what they consider to be their point of superiority, i.e., listening to NPR, then anything or anyone who threatens that advantage, is attacked, ferociously. It seems to me, that WWDTM was the perfect venue on NPR for a fun and light-hearted guest like Kardashian. Even though I didn’t listen to the particular broadcast, is sounds like fun. There have been plenty of past guests on that show who are far from their traditional serious thinkers and profound doers, they just weren’t as young, sexy, pretty and outrageous as Kim. Real intellect is one of inclusion, not exclusion.

  • MLM

    Hear, hear, JR! You stated my thoughts exquisitely.