NPR Publicizes Apology of Sarah Spitz for Limbaugh Death Wishes, Insists She's Not on Their Payroll

NPR's blog The Two-Way is running the apology of public-radio producer Sarah Spitz, who claimed to her fellow liberals on JournoList she would "Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out" if Rush Limbaugh were dying in front of her. But they also wanted to insist that her ties with NPR were few:

In fact, Spitz has never been an NPR employee. For many years, she has worked for KCRW, a public radio station in Santa Monica, California, as a producer and publicist.KCRW is one of some 900 independently-operated public radio stations across the country that air NPR's news, talk and entertainment programming. Like network TV affiliates, they air national programming but act autonomously.At 2:10 p.m. ET, Spitz issued this statement:
I made poorly considered remarks about Rush Limbaugh to what I believed was a private email discussion group from my personal email account. As a publicist, I realize more than anyone that is no excuse for irresponsible behavior. I apologize to anyone I may have offended and I regret these comments greatly; they do not reflect the values by which I conduct my life.

NPR also wanted to relay that their Santa Monica affliate offered regrets: 

And in an email to NPR, Jennifer Ferro, KCRW's general manager, said "the private comments made by one of our employees, Sarah Spitz, are regrettable for all of us at KCRW."Sarah is a longtime employee of KCRW. Please note that she is not affiliated or employed by NPR, nor does she work as a journalist, as has been incorrectly reported in the media.
Sarah was not acting in her position as KCRW Publicity Director when she wrote these comments. She spoke in the heat of the moment without consideration to the impact her words would have. We've all said things we didn't mean and don't reflect our core values. We believe that was the situation in this case. KCRW has, and always will be, dedicated to civil discourse and the free exchange of ideas.

Since 1991, Spitz has contributed six pieces to NPR's flagship magazine programs, Morning Edition and All Things Considered, about arts and culture in the greater Los Angeles area, on a freelance basis. Her most-recent story, about an art exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), aired in 2006. Three pieces — profiles of writer Ariel Dorfman and choreographer David Rusev, and a report on a literary conference — predate NPR's Internet archive. Anna Christopher, NPR's senior manager of media relations, says that, since The Daily Caller posted its piece this morning, just after midnight, she has been in touch with organizations that have misidentified Spitz. Many of them, including The Daily Caller, have corrected the error.

As the Spitz story shows, there is a bit of blur inside the public-radio system when it comes to the programming and the payroll. Spitz worked for KCRW, but she offered freelance reports for NPR. KCRW gets taxpayer money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and sends some of it back to NPR in fees for its news programming. Spitz's show Left Right & Center is on the NPR Podcast directory and airs across the country on almost 40 NPR affiliates.  By the way, Spitz also produces a show called The Politics of Culture, with such recent topics as "Homophobia in Sports" and "Alt-Econ: A Radical Approach."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis