NPR’s “Political Junkie” Nods Off

During the run-up to the filibuster showdown at the end of April, NPR’s “Political Junkie” Ken Rudin got all up lefty blogosphere’s ass for criticism of David Welna’s attribution of the “nuclear option” phrase to Democrats:

Finally, congratulations to the dozens and dozens of free thinkers who wrote in, often using the exact same language, regarding a piece by NPR’s David Welna on the oncoming collision in the Senate over the right of the minority to filibuster judicial nominations.

The least they could do is change some of the wording and make it look like they actually did some independent thinking before pressing the “send” button.

Intrigued by which well-read lefty site might have generated those emails, I sent Rudin an email:

Mr. Rudin:

I was interested in your comments on the folks who sent in identical emails complaining about David Welna’s attribution of “nuclear option” to Democrats. Did you do any research to identify the source of those identical words? I was curious about whether they were the results of copied and pasted text or if they had been generated by some type of form-based mailing system.

I figured that in this age of Google and the like that it would be relatively simple to identify the source of the “exact same language,” if it indeed existed. If nothing else, it would tell us what was effective at pressuring NPR.

Surprisingly, Rudin wrote back almost immediately, saying he was going to touch on that point in his next column and asking for my hometown (presumable if he was going to include my letter in the upcoming column). The original piece was published April 28, but he didn’t have another offering until last week (May 18), a slightly longer gap than usual.

His new column included several non-identical responses to the dismissive way he’d dealt with the original criticisms, and a sort of mea culpa:

It is fair to say that not everyone agreed with my reaction to a mass e-mailing about NPR’s use of the “nuclear option” language (see April 28 column). I was, to say the least, dismissive of those who wrote in complaining about a piece by NPR’s David Welna, in which he mentioned that Senate Democrats are calling Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist’s threat to end the judicial filibuster the “nuclear option.” A Web log took NPR to task by pointing out that the origin of the “nuclear option” term came not from the Democrats but from Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), and a lot of e-mails came in accusing us of parroting the White House line by attributing the use of the term to the Democrats. (I was equally dismissive that so many of the e-mails were little more than echoes of the language included in the blogs.)

Missing, still, is any verification of the source of that “mass e-mailing” or “echoes.” I mean, if you get a lot of emails, does that in itself constitute a “mass” emailing? Or is it just a lot of concerned people?