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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

With ‘Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me,’ we need better ways to take care of our ears

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Read Frank Bruni’s column in The New York Times Magazine, featuring Pete’s Rock: how one man’s crusade is helping his fellow human beings.

I’ll be honest: For a bit of time on Tuesday morning, I was glad to catch the first episode of the latest Piers Morgan initiative, “Piers Morgan Tonight.” Piers’s typical guest list is a who’s who of celebrities and power players. It is nice, after so many of his presidential interviews, to see him interact with Paul Pogba. (Pogba, Manchester United’s French midfielder, is booed every time he returns to Old Trafford because, in Piers’s view, Pogba must hate the club.) The former “America’s Got Talent” contestant Ian Cumming – who seems like a relatively mild-mannered, pleasant kind of guy – gave an odd interview with the right-wing British radio host Steve Hilton. (From its signature interviewer: “Just reminding you, I am a hate-humanitarian.”)

Around mid-morning, though, I felt a similar kind of unease. For a change, I didn’t watch Piers. Instead, I opened up NPR’s edition of “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me.” “Wait Wait” – which is built around the progressive radio host Steve Kelley and his wife, Maria, who also host the radio program “Outsider” – has nearly always served as an antidote to the hyperbolic bravado and misinformation masquerading as news found on Piers Morgan Live. On Wednesday morning, “Wait Wait” gave voice to Kelly Foebel’s harrowing account of how she was sexually assaulted in the summer of 2015 by a doctor who was once her boyfriend.

Hilariously, I thought about phoning the station and ordering them to put the show on a tape delay. But what if Piers did some show with a guest who reacted to Ms. Foebel’s story with some sort of immediate denial of its veracity? What if Piers tried to touch the speaker’s head, and was done? It is a scary thing, this idea of these two acts of simulated waffling.

Do we really need another version of Piers Morgan? I don’t think we do. But I’m glad to have “Wait Wait” around.

Read Frank Bruni’s column in The New York Times Magazine, featuring Pete’s Rock: how one man’s crusade is helping his fellow human beings.

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