NPR logo More on 'The Thomases'

More on 'The Thomases'

Well I'm back. I never left, actually. Just had to duck-out to the doctor to confirm what I already knew ... I have laryngitis. I apologize, again, for the poor quality of my voice this week. But I am muddling through. It's bad, isn't it?

... I mean, whoever sang "I am Woman, hear me croak"?

But I decided it wasn't bad enough to call in reinforcements. And, who am I kidding? I am selfish. Let somebody else talk to Rita Moreno? I don't think so.

I have another FAB-U-LOUS musical guest for next week, whom many of you know. Actually, whom ALL of you know. She's been out of the studio for quite a while and has just found her way back in. She's with us next week for a combined Wisdom Watch/listening session about her new CD. I'm trying to think of a hint ... OK, how about this: You don't say her name once, but three times ... fast.

The first respondent to guess who I'm talking about wins ... our admiration.

Today's show featured an interview with Anucha Browne Sanders. She is the executive who successfully sued Isiah Thomas and the Knicks for sexual harassment. (Thomas maintains his innocence and says he'll appeal) I had an odd deja vu feeling about this ... We just did a program about Clarence Thomas' new memoir, just published, where he settles old scores, including about the sexual harassment charges leveled at him during his confirmation hearings in 1991. I was a White House correspondent during those hearings: I remember it all and, subsequently, reported a documentary about it for the now-defunct ABC News program Turning Point.

I am sure everybody has opinions about the Justice Thomas ordeal, but, let me say, while people are entitled to their own opinions, they are not entitled to their own facts. I think it is entirely fair to fact-check Thomas' new memoir and compare it to facts established in the public record. We'll be doing that, if we find appropriate and compelling guests.

I also want to call attention to our middle section of the show today: two voices from West Africa. What's the peg, you ask? Why them, why now?

Part of the reason is that Chris Abani has just published a new short novel. It is purposely vague about time, date, and place, most likely during the Biafran war, but clearly in West Africa. I think the vagueness works because the novel tells the story of a child soldier, inaptly named "My Luck."

If you think about it, how would a child — taught to fight so brutally — ever really know anything about why he is fighting, or what he's supposedly fighting for? He's fighting because he's been taught to fight.

The story is both beautiful and horrifying, and I hope our conversation conveys some of it. And, we felt it necessary to let everyone know that while Abani's story is fiction, the world he describes is not. Thus, our interview with Jacob Massaquoi, a refugee from Liberia who now works to help other exiles, asylum seekers like him resettle in the U.S.

Finally, if you need a laugh, check out Raina Kelly's story about how she spent an entire month as a "freegan." One word: no skittles.

She almost didn't make it.



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Since you asked, the upcoming musical guest is Chaka Khan. You guys make these musical guests hints soooo easy :-)

Sent by Moji | 8:59 AM | 10-5-2007

I find it Ironic that NPR would have Armstrong Williams to lobby/defend Clarence Thomas and question the accusations on sexual harassment. Please note, Armstrong Williams had to settle a case against a man who accused him of sexual harassment (Armstrong Williams settled gay sexual harassment suit in 2005)...this is detailed several times over the years but we seem to never mention his ordeal. I guess "Armstrong Williams" is the best the Republican Party Machinery and Friends of Clarence Thomas could do in terms of trotting out a black man. Williams is in fact a hypocrite himself on so many levels (let's not forget the Republican Party paid Armstrong under the table to be their minstrel side-kick on the talk-show circuit to defend questionable policies. Please be more balanced when giving these "questionable" people airtime and don't conduct interviews similar to that of 60 minutes with Clarence Thomas. We have enough of the POLITICAL Shenanigans of the Republican Party and its stakeholders on regular cable, mainstream media and press!!!

Sent by Chloe | 2:53 PM | 10-9-2007

Chloe -

Yours is not the only complaint we've had of this nature, and I appreciate your perspective. But I maintain that it was absolutely right and legitimate to present Armstrong Williams as a surrogate for, and representative of, Clarence Thomas' point of view -- the point of the interview was Thomas' new memoir, My Grandfather's Son.

NPR has a longstanding interview request in for Justice Thomas, which to this point has not been granted. And it seemed that if we wanted to discuss the book we should have someone who represented him. Kevin Merida, a respected Washington Post reporter who has also reported a biography of Thomas, was also part of the conversation and provided needed balance.

I would also point you to the interview we aired yesterday with Angela Wright, who worked with Thomas at the EEOC.
You can listen to that here:

Thanks, always for your interest and focused attention to Tell Me More.

Sent by Michel Martin, host | 10:07 AM | 10-10-2007