Listeners Divided On Big Three Bailout

Our coverage of the auto industry has brought us lots of comments from listeners. Senior Producer Steve Proffitt joins Madeleine Brand to share listener letters on a teen who is sailing alone, plans for the automakers and easy sushi.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Polls show Americans are divided over the question of whether or not to bail out the auto companies. Our listeners seem divided too. Senior producer Steve Proffitt is here now to share some of your comments.

STEVE PROFFITT: Madeleine, it's a very polarizing thing, it seems like, this auto bailout. Listener Bryan Witt(ph) wrote us in disgust. He's from Sterling Heights, Michigan.

BRAND: And he's pretty unhappy with me personally.

PROFFITT: Yes, personally. I invited Mr. Witt to read his comments, but he didn't respond. He accuses you, dear Madeleine, of having some sort of vendetta against the American car companies. In the past weeks, he writes, she...

BRAND: Meaning me.

PROFFITT: Yes, you - has demeaned the retooling of Detroit's car companies, argued for the dissolution of the unions, and just attacked anyone who was contrary to her views.

BRAND: Wow.

PROFFITT: Mr. Witt concludes, go drive your foreign subsidized Kia.

BRAND: Well, if I had one, I would. I would go drive it, but I don't have one.

PROFFITT: Well, Madeleine, others are also unhappy with the interview you did yesterday with the Michigan governor.

BRAND: Yes, we spoke with Governor Jennifer Granholm. She defended the auto companies and argued for the government bailout.

PROFFITT: And from East Lansing, Michigan, Ted Wilson wrote to agree with the governor's assertion that the recession will turn into a depression if Congress fails to provide loans to the car companies. We got quite a few other letters, most from Michigan, supporting the governor and the auto bailout.

BRAND: But not everyone agrees with Governor Granholm that Congress needs to help the Big Three.

PROFFITT: And they don't all hate you, Madeleine.

Mr. JOSHUA HOLGUM: This is Joshua Holgum(ph) from Sheperdsville, Kentucky. I understand the governor needs to save jobs. It's just sad to hear her trying to feed the public all the reasons why the current situation isn't the fault of the automakers. Her responses made me cringe.

PROFFITT: OK, let's move on to another topic now. On Tuesday, our pal Alex Chadwick updated a story he'd originally reported last summer.

BRAND: And this was a story about a 16-year-old boy who is sailing all by himself around the world. He's trying to become the youngest person to do it.

PROFFITT: That's right. He is Zac Sunderland, and he's posting stories about some of his adventures on a blog, zacsunderland.com. He's run into some rough weather, and he's even had an encounter with what appear to be pirates.

BRAND: And several listeners wrote in thanking us for the update.

PROFFITT: But at least one wasn't happy that we continue to cover stories about kids alone on sailboats.

Mr. STEVE SIDE: My name is Steve Side(ph), I'm originally from Brooklyn, New York. I live now on a 46-foot sailboat. I read portions of Zac's postings, and he's frankly not equipped in judgment or experience to do this now. There are many better ways to develop and demonstrate his abilities.

PROFFITT: And finally, Madeleine, best pizza in Culver City, California.

BRAND: OK, you're referring to the story we did about voice recognition search software. This is where you just speak some words in your cellphone and then search Google or some other search engine.

PROFFITT: Right, and we got a response from very, very far away.

Mr. JAKE REINER: Hi, this is Jake Reiner(ph). I'm calling from the Earth Embassy on Mount Fuji in Japan. The voice recognition software in my car, if I just press a button and say sushi, the navigator will call out directions and tell me where to turn to get to the closest sushi restaurant.

PROFFITT: Wow. How about that?

BRAND: The Japanese are always ahead of us with these things.

PROFFITT: They are. Thanks to Jake Reiner and to everyone who wrote us. You can comment directly on any story we air at our website, npr.org.

BRAND: And you can join the fray at our blog. It's npr.org/daydreaming. Senior producer Steve Proffitt, he posts there a lot. He's here now. Thank you, Steve.

PROFFITT: Madeleine, you're very welcome.

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