Letters: Pa. Primary, Pope, Food Banks, Carter

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Hosts Renee Montagne and Steve Inskeep read listeners' responses to coverage of the Pennsylvania presidential primary, Pope Benedict's U.S. visit, Jimmy Carter's meeting with Hamas leaders and the effects of rising food prices on U.S. food banks.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Now let's catch up on some of your comments.

(Soundbite of music)

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Michael Blazey(ph) of La Habra, California, wrote into complain: Your wit fell short. He had to write in to tell us that?

MONTAGNE: Oh, please.

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: I thought that was a given. Anyway, Mr. Blazey was referring to the day of the Pennsylvania primary, when I referred to President Gerald Ford's famous line: Our long national nightmare is over. In response, Mr. Blazey says, Watergate was a nightmare. A political process resulting in one of the most interesting and spirited campaigns in a generation is the American dream.

MONTAGNE: We also received complaints that we were, quote, "Too fawning in our coverage of the pope's visit last week." NPR's coverage over several days included critical voices, like those of victims' groups unimpressed by the pope's meeting with victims of abuse. But we also heard from people who attended the papal mass at Yankee stadium.

Unidentified Man: It's a proud moment for us, I think. So it's just great to be Catholic.

INSKEEP: That report was too much for Mike Peterson of Farmington, Maine. He contends that we, quote, "Reported the Catholic Church as health and the pope as popular based on talking to people who traveled hundreds of miles to see the pope say mass at Yankee Stadium. Maybe next weekend," he continues, "return to Yankee Stadium and do a report on how average baseball fans feel about the Yankees."

MONTAGNE: A report on a different story inspired a listener to share an idea. Jennifer Warlowe(ph) of Collierville, Tennessee, heard about how food banks are under strain. She writes that in her town, gardeners and other volunteers have raised produce on a borrowed plot of land. She writes, the food is organic and the pantry's clients always enthuse about it. Last year, our little plot produced nearly 3,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables.

INSKEEP: Finally, we received this comment from Anthony Ski(ph) of St. Petersburg, Florida. He says I was too polite the other day when interviewing former President Jimmy Carter - not that the questions were too polite. We asked questions, even played tape about criticism of Carter's trip to the Middle East. Mr. Ski's concern was that I called him Mr. President. He writes, Mr. Carter, himself, emphasized that now he is an ordinary citizen, just like the rest of us.

MONTAGNE: We don't stand on ceremony here. If you want to be in touch, don't bother with Dear Sir or Madam. Steve, what? Just go to npr.org and click on…

INSKEEP: Just say Hey, Steve is appropriate.

MONTAGNE: …Contact Us - Yeah, just call us Renee and Steve.

INSKEEP: No, no. they're going to refer to you as Ms. Montagne. They will treat you with respect, Renee.

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