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NPR admits it was ‘inappropriate’ to single out conservative group

WASHINGTON (BP)–While refusing to issue a direct apology, National Public Radio admitted Jan. 30 that it was “inappropriate” to name the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) in connection with a story the network was doing about the FBI’s anthrax investigation, CNSNews.com reported Jan. 30.

The network’s statement was read during Tuesday’s “Morning Edition” program on the network, according to NPR spokesperson Jess Sarmiento.

“A story last week about the ongoing anthrax investigation mentioned the Traditional Values Coalition, whom we called to ask if they had been contacted by the FBI. They said they had not since there is no evidence that they were or should be investigated. It was inappropriate to name them on the air,” Sarmiento said.

However, Lou Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, said he wasn’t impressed with NPR’s statement.

“They have not apologized, neither have they retracted, neither have they said they were sorry. They have simply tried to further distance themselves from the wrong that they have done,” Sheldon said.

“But that isn’t going to work,” he emphasized. “In saying that they shouldn’t have had to refer to us, [it] may mean in their minds that we were guilty and they were messing up the FBI’s investigation of us. They haven’t really said anything because their statement is such of a milquetoast nature.

“The battle against National Public Radio continues,” Sheldon said. He also said TVC is going ahead with a lawsuit against NPR.

According to the transcript from NPR’s Morning Edition program during the week of Jan. 21, reporter David Kestenbaum said, “Two of the anthrax letters were sent to Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, both Democrats. One group who had a gripe with Daschle and Leahy is the Traditional Values Coalition, which, before the attacks, had issued a press release criticizing the senators for trying to remove the phrase ‘so help me God’ from the oath.”

Kestenbaum also reported, “The Traditional Values Coalition, however, told me the FBI had not contacted them and then issued a press release saying NPR was in the pocket of the Democrats and trying to frame them. But investigators are thinking along these lines. FBI agents won’t discuss the case, but the people they have spoken with will.”

Sarmiento added that it was appropriate for Kestenbaum “to learn about the direction of the investigation by talking to individual groups, scientists and all the different people he talked to. But when he was told by the group [Traditional Values Coalition] that they hadn’t been contacted, he shouldn’t have singled them out on the air in absence of any evidence.”
Burns is a senior staff writer with www.CNSNews.com. Used by permission.

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  • Jim Burns