Letters: Frank Interview, No Pity For Traders

Cutting off Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank and very little pity for traders on Wall Street. Host Scott Simon reads from listeners' e-mails.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Time now for your letters.

(Soundbite of typewriter and music)

SIMON: Three weeks ago, we heard a live interview with Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank as Congress considered a rescue plan for the nation's financial systems. Many listeners reproached me for abruptly thanking Mr. Frank and ending the segment.

Andy Raden(ph) from Halifax, Nova Scotia, wrote, why must this man who began to inform listeners in a meaningful way be cut off? Why can't NPR have more open-mindedness in its interviews, especially one of this magnitude of importance?

Mr. Raden, our prime news segment ends at 18 minutes past the hour so that NPR member stations can come in with local news and weather. We'd already covered the financial crisis for 12 minutes during that segment. I asked Representative Frank just one question. He knew we had allotted four minutes for an interview with him, but went on for more than four minutes live without interruption until I finally had to thank him and end the segment. Now I do not enjoy cutting off interviews, especially with busy, powerful people who've made time for us. But a four-minute monologue in response to a single simple question is unprecedented.

We visited the New York Stock Exchange last week and spoke with Jason Weisberg, a trader for Seaport Securities. Here's some of what he said.

Mr. JASON WEISBERG (Trader, Seaport Securities): This whole mess that we're in now is horrible for everyone, whether you work on Wall Street or whether you work on Main Street.

SIMON: Mr. Weisberg's view upset some of our listeners. Ginger Gervy(ph) of Flagstaff, Arizona, writes, Jason Weisberg sounds typical of so many people today. Yeah, you were hurt, you were angry, but if you don't help me, then you will get yours, as though we weren't already getting ours and more. Where's the accountability? Where's the responsibility? He may be a small cog, but he still shares the burden of this.

But Harold Anderson(ph) of Toronto writes it's a bit incorrect to argue that Wall Street greed led to high-risk instruments, and that these had no demand in the first place. From 40-year-olds with zero retirement savings to insurance companies losing profits, the public demands high-risk, high-return investments. And Wall Street created instruments to satisfy this demand. Is this greed? Who's?

We welcome your comments. You can write to us by going to our Web site, npr.org, and clicking on "Contact Us." Please tell us where you live and how to pronounce your name. A programming note, tomorrow morning Weekend Edition Sunday will feature an investigative story about airbag fraud. We'll tell you about unscrupulous repair shops that fail to replace to airbags that had deployed in a crash, or who just stuffed the used airbag back without connecting it, or packed the compartment with everything from newspapers to beer cans. We'll also tell you about used car dealers who've sold cars without working airbags. You can hear the full story tomorrow on Weekend Edition Sunday with Liane Hansen.

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