Audience Weighs In On Steele-Limbaugh Debate

A recent commentary by host Michel Martin about the dust up between GOP leader Michael Steele and conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh has listeners, once again, speaking their minds. Plus, hear reaction to Wall Street Veteran Carla Harris' take on success and accountability in the work place.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now it's time for BackTalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get a chance to hear from you, our listeners.

TELL ME MORE producer Arwa Gunja is filling in for Lee Hill today. So what are people talking about, Arwa?

ARWA GUNJA: Well, Michel, nothing stirred up listeners more this week than your commentary, where you weighed in on the Rush Limbaugh versus Michael Steele saga. Let's hear what you had to say about Rush.

MARTIN: With his cheap shots at black leaders and feminists and anybody else who doesn't want to time-travel back to the past, Limbaugh is the quintessential angry white male who's not just yelling at people to get off his lawn but infuriated that the whole lawn doesn't belong to him anymore.

If I understand it, not everybody thought my criticism of Rush was fair or helpful. Here's Mark from Ohio.

MARK: Everything political ultimately reduces to matters of race and gender. This is an obstacle to grasping that there are more important, basic motivating factors in people and politics than skin color or indoor versus outdoor plumbing.

So Martin undertakes the risky business of slamming Rush Limbaugh by putting racist motives on his head without considering that Midwestern Republicanism, which is his background, has some history of wariness toward activist federal government dating back to the New Deal.

Martin opposes the stereotyping of her class by stereotyping its competitors.

MARTIN: Well, Mark, thank you for sharing your views. We'll just have to agree to disagree. Arwa?

GUNJA: On Wednesday, we did a story with Wall Street veteran Carla Harris. She's an African-American woman who climbed the corporate ladder, and she claims that learning to talk the talk of her male coworkers, from business to sports, helped.

Harris describes her strategy for success in her new book, "Expect to Win," but she didn't win with many of our listeners. Here's Abby from Rhode Island.

ABBY: Good for you, Michel, trying to get an answer out of Ms. Harris as to why we are in the economic mess we are in now and whether she wasn't being less than her authentic self in her chats with the big boys about football.

As I listened, I thought: I think her authentic self is no different from the male Wall Street players who got us into this mess. And to think she can't think of an ethical quandary she's been put in at work? That says it all right there.

I'm glad you kept pressing her, Michel. Good job.

GUNJA: But Regina from California disagreed. She was a classmate of Harris's at Harvard.

REGINA: I listened to the interview. What I heard repeated was Michel's own personal distress coming through loud and clear in the form of resistance to the positive message that permeates "Expect to Win." Carla is brilliant. I can tell you that her guidance is worth far more than the price of this book.

MARTIN: Well, thank you for your comment, Regina, and all who wrote or called in. Thank you, Arwa.

GUNJA: Thanks, Michel.

MARTIN: And remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more about what you think, you can call out comment line at 202-842-3522. That number again: 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave your name. You can also log on to our Web page. Go to npr.org. Click on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

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