NPR Admits It Scrubbed Clip of Mara Liasson Separating 'Educated Women' and 'Stay-at-Home Moms'

NPR's Mara Liasson outraged female listeners on Weekend Edition Sunday on April 15 when she said Mitt Romney's political problems aren't with "stay-at-home moms," but rather with "educated women."

Seven days later, NPR admitted it scrubbed the clip and the transcript for the website. On April 22, in a letters segment, Liasson claimed "I misspoke and that's one reason why we corrected the interview for later feeds of the show." Maybe she didn't "misspeak" as much as she betrayed her own opinion. She's never stayed at home and her biographies list no children. At least NPR returned to the scene of the self-censorship:

RACHEL MARTIN, anchor: Time now for your letters. Last Sunday, I spoke with NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson  about the week in politics, and part of our conversation focused on a political the war of words. It started when Democratic consultant Hilary Rosen said that Ann Romney, the wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, quote, "has never worked a day in her life." Many listeners took issue with Mara's analysis of the gender gap between Mitt Romney and President Obama.

Debora Hoard of Greenwood, Virginia, wrote: As I got ready to go to work this morning - work I do in part so I can have some flexibility to be home during the week - I heard Ms. Liasson say Romney's problem is not with stay-at-home moms, but with educated women. Ouch. She writes: Are these really separate categories?

And Allaire Diamond of Williston, Vermont, adds: These groups are not mutually exclusive. I proudly count myself among the large group of college-educated women who have chosen to dedicate ourselves, full- or part-time, for a year or a lifetime, to the work of raising our children. A woman's life and career, especially when children are involved, is extraordinarily complex and it's insulting to have it reduced to these rough categories, especially by someone that I normally hold in high regard.

We asked Mara about the point she was making and here's her response.

MARA LIASSON: Our listeners are right. I misspoke and that's one reason why we corrected the interview for later feeds of the show. What I was trying to say was that while Romney has an overall deficit with women voters, his biggest disadvantage is with college educated women - wherever they work, at home, in an office, a store or a factory.

MARTIN: As Mara said, we re-recorded our interview for later feeds, and that is the interview of record at NPR.org.

The blog My Joy for Today reported her outrage on that day. She could not believe NPR was hiding its arrogance:

I attempted to find the transcript and audio file of this morning’s broadcast.  The file that is available for the 8 am show does not contain the quote that I have discussed.  Ironically, the audio file and transcript are simply not the same as the one we heard in the car this morning.  I do not claim to understand the intricacies of radio broadcasting and realize that there may have been many versions of the broadcast that we heard.  However, the quote by Ms. Liasson was certainly part of at least one version of today’s program, and many comments on NPR’s website show that we are not the only listeners who caught this outrageous comment.  If Hilary Rosen owed women an apology, it seems only fair that Ms. Liasson and NPR do the same.  In the spirit of honest journalism, why not admit your mistake and apologize to your faithful listeners?  Do you assume that stay at home mothers are so uneducated that they were not even listening and therefore are not even owed a response?  Please do not continue to belittle us with your silence.

[HT: Penny Starr]

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