Can I Just Tell You?Can I Just Tell You? NPR's Michel Martin gives a distinct take on news and issues

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

Finally, Don Imus and Chris Wallace are mad at us - or rather, they're mad at my colleague Cokie Roberts for something she said on this program last week. I'll try to dry my tears long enough to tell you about it. We're talking about women in politics, part of our Women's History Month series, and Cokie made the point that women in public life are still spoken about in a demeaning way that men rarely are.

I had asked a question about an exchange on Imus's radio program. Imus asked Fox News host Chris Wallace, who was looking forward to interviewing former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, if he would conduct the interview with Palin while she sat on his lap. Wallace replied, one can only hope.

I made the point that Palin is also a Fox contributor and a member of the Fox family, as it were, but that didnt spare her from being subjected to this sexist palaver. Cokie made the point that the lure of the boy's club often trumps ideology.

It seems that Imus and Wallace did not appreciate our remarks. Imus accused Cokie of being hysterical. And Wallace, whose office was next door to mine and down the hall from Cokie's when we all worked at ABC News together, pretended not to remember who she was.

I would play the exchange for you, but they get enough air time on their own, dont they? So why talk about it at all? Because they just made Cokie's point and mine. Thanks, fellas. Evidently, women are supposed to - to paraphrase Sarah Palin's words in another context - just sit down and shut up.

Isn't funny how people who bully people for a living get really annoyed when somebody takes issue with it? Youre not only supposed to let them push you around, youre supposed to like it.

Well, can I just tell you? The great thing about America today is that Don Imus and Chris Wallace get to have their say - but so do Cokie and I. The worrisome thing about America today is who is not being heard. We keep hearing a lot these days from members of certain groups who claim they are forced to scream at public officials at hearings - and even spitting and name-calling - because these officials aren't listening to them on matters like the deficit and health-care reform and immigration.

But who was listening to the millions of people who didnt have health insurance at all these years, and who were one heart attack or car accident or flu season away from bankruptcy? Who was listening as millions of people got risky mortgages they should not have had instead of safer ones for which they were actually eligible?

Who was listening when millions of people came into this country without authorization and then got jobs and got married and had kids and enrolled those kids in school and the entire country looked the other way until, of course, the economy turned sour and the country decided their services were no longer needed and now we want to disrupt those lives and ties in a brutal way? Who was listening when we began a war that much of the country did not support?

The fact is, that's what elections are for - its to figure out how to resolve conflicting points of view and values. I cannot help but think that what the fury is really about is the loss of entitlement. Just as it was the case that men with a shred of power could say whatever they wanted about women, and women had to put up with it or get a man to duel for them or something - well, now women get to rock the mic, too.

And it used to be - and often is - that one set of values or perspectives dominates the way we look at issues and talk about them. And you can see where the people who share that particular perspective begin to feel that they are entitled to shape the conversation all the time. But things change. New voices rise, different people win elections, or dare we say it, get on the radio. Maybe some people have a problem with that. Tough - because we're not going anywhere.

And that's our program for today. Im Michel Martin, and youve been listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Lets talk more tomorrow.

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Can I Just Tell You?Can I Just Tell You? NPR's Michel Martin gives a distinct take on news and issues
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