WashPost Gushes Over NPR's Diane Rehm: 'Public Radio Icon' to Lobby for 'The Good Death'

January 28th, 2016 2:15 PM

The Washington Post is puffing leftist NPR host Diane Rehm again in Thursday’s paper. Online, the headline was “Diane Rehm’s next act: Using her famed voice to fight for the good death.” That’s a clever spin for assisted suicide. “The public radio icon will step away from the mic to champion the right to die, the subject of a new memoir.”

As usual for “public radio icons,” Post reporter Karen Heller couldn't locate any Rehm critics. "A wren of a woman with an XXL personality, she’s known for a hailstorm of opinions," we're told. But no one can have a strong one against her.

Heller openly sympathized with Diane Rehm and her husband’s wishes: “after two years in an assisted living facility, he refused food, liquids and medication. It took 10 days for him to die, an eternity.”

“I rage at a system that would not allow John to be helped toward his own death,” Rehm writes of watching her spouse of 54 years wither away.

The experience sparked her advocacy in the right-to-die movement. “I feel the way that John had to die was just totally inexcusable,” she told The Washington Post last year. “It was not right.”

Her public stand, and a commitment to host three dinners for the organization Compassion & Choices, which advocates for legalizing physician-assisted suicide, resulted in an admonishment from a room full of station and NPR brass. Rehm is supposed to moderate news issues, not make them.

“I was annoyed,” Rehm recalls of the experience. “Political issue or not, it’s also an extraordinarily personal one to me because of John.”

Rehm was "annoyed" that anyone thought she could not use a taxpayer-funded radio network to thump her tub for organized euthanasia, since it's "personal," and not somehow not "political." We're told Hillary Clinton is one of her favorite guests, and when President Obama awarded her a National Humanities Medal, she asked him to appear on her show. (There's little doubt he'll pop in before she retires at the end of this year.)

The harshest image of Rehm comes from her own staff, and that's clearly muffled:

"She’s very challenging. We had our first fight before I even got here,” says J.J. Yore, manager of WAMU-FM (88.5), a Washington NPR affiliate. Earlier this month, before she took a sabbatical for her thrice-yearly voice treatments, they had an hour-long dustup. Says her dear friend Mary Beth Busby, “You don’t ever ask Diane’s opinion if you don’t want it, because you’re going to get it.” Yet Rehm is celebrated for moderating civil discourse between often vehemently opposed guests....

“She’s a demanding boss in a really good way,” says producer Sandra Pinkard, who has been with Rehm since 1993. “The show’s a democracy, with one person’s vote counting a whole lot more” than everyone else’s.

Heller makes it sound like she's never paid much attention to the Rehm show. "Vehemently opposed guests" don't appear "often." They're quite rare. What's "often" is a comfortable liberal-to-moderate spread of elite opinion. The callers are often to the left of the guests.

The Post also linked to their equally gushing book review from last Friday in which Rehm promises “I shall do all I can to promote the right of aid in dying.”