BOB GARFIELD: I’m Bob Garfield, with a few of your letters. In a program that I hosted alone a few weeks ago, I spoke with erstwhile NPR Capital Hill Reporter Andrew Seabrook about her decision to get out of daily coverage because she was tired of passing along the lies of the politicians she covered. Brendon Jones from Washington wrote, quote, “What irony that Seabrook's frustration with the politicians is aired on THIS program. Seabrook clearly was talking about the media spin as much as the politicians. Even in her moment of courage, she didn’t tell the truth that she was probably being coerced by her bosses to spin as per the politicians' whims. Brooke Gladstone's reports on the Palestinian issue is SO biased, that my radio bleeds. Their choice of Yasser Arafat's spin in today's program is straight out of AIPAC's playbook. Brooke Gladstone will very likely receive the usual Thank You gift from AIPAC or Occupied Jerusalem pretty soon no doubt.”
Brendon, if I may, Brooke wasn’t even in the office that week. If anyone was reading from AIPAC’s playbook it would have been me, But, alas, I had to return my copy when I cut from the team before the first pre-season game against the Palestinian Authority. Secondly, if your radio is bleeding, that is a safety hazard. Turn it off! And start receiving the broadcast through the receiver planted in your dental fillings by the FBI.
Thirdly, we are happy to entertain views from all comers, including insults, but I will not allow you to accuse Brooke of corruption. So, you have lost your comment privileges. You are banned forever. Scram.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Gosh, Bob. Many of you weighed in on an interview I actually did with former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu last week, on the subject of a fallacious Romney ad accusing President Obama of gutting welfare work requirements. Andrew M. commented, quote, “The abusive rant by Sununu, what was the point of airing that? I guess you showed what the Republican Party is reduced to, but the interview just made a mockery of the whole piece. It’s not shedding light, but providing darkness, not one of your better segments. Had you approached this properly, it could have been informative. Instead, it was an unpleasant circus show. Makes me think you don’t take your job seriously.”
So Andrew followed a constructive critique of my interview with a personal jab. Okay, that happens. We only delete comments filled with hate speech or personal attacks on other commenters. It’s part of an internal debate we and many other news organizations have engaged in since the advent of the Internet, how to allow public listener feedback, while not creating a forum for the worst kind of speech. What follows are two ways others have tried to solve this problem.