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Listeners On Political Talk, Phyllis Schlafly


And now, it's time for BackTalk. That's where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere. Editor Ammad Omar is here again to tell us what listeners are talking about.

But before we hear from him, I want to clarify something. On Wednesday's program, we talked about how former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Republican presidential contender, was under fire for his work at Bain and Company. Actually, it was Romney's tenure at Bain Capital that is the source of the controversy.

Ammad, what else are people talking about?

AMMAD OMAR, BYLINE: Well, Michel, we had quite a few thoughts from listeners on your Can I Just Tell You commentary from this week. You talked about restoring civility in election campaigns. Here's a clip from Michelle Shalfoon(ph) from Glen Cove, New York.

MICHELLE SHALFOON: I would like to see the moderators follow up when a candidate dodges a question. I would also like to see the moderators take a page from the comedian Jon Stewart and play back clips where the candidate has changed their stance and ask why they have made this change.

MARTIN: Thanks, Michelle, for writing and, remember, I'd asked if people had ideas about how campaigns could be more productive and keep writing. What else, Ammad?

OMAR: Well, we've got a couple of news updates, as well. First off, on the death of Robert Champion. He was the drum major in the Florida A&M University marching band who died after being beaten in a hazing ritual.

The hazing happened on a bus that was transporting the band, and on Tuesday, Champion's parents said they plan to sue the bus company.

MARTIN: Now, Ammad, some people are saying that Robert's sexual orientation may have been a factor in the beating, but his parents and their attorney say his outspokenness against hazing is what made him a target. Obviously, we're going to keep following this story.

Ammad, any other updates?

OMAR: Yeah, that's right. Another difficult story is one we discussed back in June about a state sponsored sterilization program in North Carolina. Up until the 1970s, thousands of people were forcibly sterilized because the state decided they were unfit to reproduce. These were people with mental illnesses, low IQs, even gay people.

Now, North Carolina is thinking about compensating those victims. A panel voted to pay thousands of people $50,000 apiece, but the legislature still has to approve that.

MARTIN: I understand that we also got quite a lot of response to the interview I did with conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly, on Tuesday's program. Tell me more about that.

OMAR: Yeah. A lot of people weren't so happy that you did that conversation, Michel. Susan McGee(ph) from Conshohocken, Pennsylvania writes in: TELL ME MORE is one of my favorite NPR shows, but when you interview people like Phyllis Schlafly, I feel like you're cheating on me. I almost turned off the radio.

And here's another listener, Kiki Judd(ph) from Philadelphia.

KIKI JUDD: The talk with Phyllis Schlafly made my blood boil. Whenever a conservative Republican goes off on, quote, "Obamacare" and how it, quote, "must be repealed," what is their solution? I want to drop kick the radio whenever I hear interviewers let conservatives spout off on how horrible it is, while offering no alternatives.

MARTIN: Well, thank you, Kiki, and I'm glad you haven't drop kicked your radio yet. Ammad, anything else?

OMAR: Yeah. Well, ended up with a little bit of sad news. We talked about the legendary broadcaster Georges Collinet quite a bit in the last couple of weeks. You did a little segment for us about his favorite music and he told us one of his favorite songs is "I'm Your Puppet" by the duo James and Bobby Purify. Well, Wanda Carter from Tallahassee, Florida, wrote in to tell us that one of the group's members, Robert Dickey, passed away last week at age 72.

And as much as Georges Collinet loved that song, according to his AP obituary, Dickey says he hated the top 10 hit because he once sang it for 23 straight hours.


JAMES AND BOBBY PURIFY: (Singing) Pull the string and I'll wink at you. I'm your puppet.

MARTIN: Well, thank you, Ammad. And remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522 or visit us online at NPR.org/TellMeMore. Please, remember to leave us your name. You can also find us on Twitter. Just look for TELL ME MORE, NPR.


PURIFY: (Singing) Darling, you've got full control of your puppet. Pull another string and I'll kiss your lips. I'm your puppet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.