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Listeners React To Head Of Citizens United


And now it's time for BackTalk. That's where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere. Editor Ammad Omar is here with us once again.

Ammad, what do you have for us today?

AMMAD OMAR, BYLINE: Hey, Michel. Well, we got a lot of comments from listeners this week and I'm not trying to kiss up to the host here, but a lot of them came from the Michel Martin Fan Club after your essay this week. Remind us about that essay. Could you?

MARTIN: You know, I really have no objection to kissing up. I just thought I'd mention that. But I talked about the new Smithsonian exhibition, "Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello." Thomas Jefferson wrote some of the most powerful and enduring statements about freedom in our nation's founding documents, but of course, he was a slaveholder and the exhibition focused on the lives of his enslaved people. And it made me think about what things, today, that I might be blind to.

So, Ammad, I'm interested. What did folks have to say about it?

OMAR: Well, we got a few notes, like what the user KeesKees(ph) wrote on NPR.org. They said, nice piece. This is the kind of thought-provoking literature that we lack in mainstream media. This should be front and center on NPR's home page.

MARTIN: Well, thank you for that. Ammad, anything else?

OMAR: Yeah. We can't let the love fest go on all show, so let's play a quick clip of your essay that got an interesting reaction.


MARTIN: Jefferson was a brilliant and thoughtful man, often a kind one, certainly not evil. And, of course, he was a man of his time. Slavery was a fact of life at his birth and death, and for decades after his death.

OMAR: Well, Brooke Jay(ph) didn't see our third president quite the same way. She wrote on NPR.org, the perpetuation of this lie needs to stop. Yes. Jefferson was a very intelligent man, probably a genius. That doesn't make his actions any less evil or any less horrifying. Actually, it's much more horrifying that someone of such intelligence could live in such contradiction to his beliefs and to his own words. Well before Jefferson was born, Quakers spoke out against slavery. I find it impossible to believe that Jefferson was completely ignorant of the abolitionist movement.

MARTIN: Well, thank you for that. And thank you for all the very interesting and provocative responses we got. I appreciate all of them.

Ammad, what else?

OMAR: Well, on Tuesday, you spoke with David Bossie. He's the head of Citizens United. That's the organization behind the court case that helped pave the way for those superPACs, those political action committees that can raise unlimited amounts of money to promote candidates. Here's a clip from that discussion.


DAVID BOSSIE: Well, look, money is speech and people who can spend more get more speech.

OMAR: We got a lot of emails like this one from Lynn Rice (ph) in Atlanta.

LYNN RICE: Honestly, I could feel the steam coming out of every pore listening to David Bossie. I was seething by the time the interview was over. For all of the completely stupefying rhetoric I've heard, nothing provoked me like the clarity of that interview. Amazing.

MARTIN: Thank you for that, Lynn, and thanks again for all the different perspectives that we heard and, of course, we are committed to presenting all the different perspectives out there.

Anything else?

OMAR: OK. Last one. We had a conversation in the Beauty Shop this week about the pop stars Rihanna and Chris Brown releasing two songs together. Just a few years ago, he pled guilty to beating her. Two of our Beauty Shop panelists mentioned that Rihanna is a role model for girls and we got a lot of emails about that, most of them like this from Jennifer Hall(ph) in Indianapolis.

She says, to hear educated, strong women refer to Rihanna as a role model for young girls was quite off-putting. I actually really like Rihanna's music, but search for a few of her videos. If this is what we consider to be a good role model for young girls, then we have a much larger problem than a remixed song.


RIHANNA: (Singing) Turn up the music 'cause I feel a little turned on. Turn up the music. Don't you try to turn...

MARTIN: Well, thank you, Jennifer, and thanks to everybody for the letters. You're hearing one of those remixed songs now and we are going to get the Barber Shop guys to weigh in on that story later in the program.

And, remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522 or visit us online at NPR.org/TellMeMore. Please remember to leave us your name. You can also find us on Twitter. Just look for TELL ME MORE NPR. Thanks, Ammad.

OMAR: Thank you.


RIHANNA: (Singing) Turn up the music. Just turn it up now. Turn up the music.


MARTIN: The Oscars are this week. Don't act like you don't care. But why do we care? Is it the films, the fashion or waiting for the most cringe-worthy speech? We'll hear about it all, who won, who lost and who wore the most head turning outfit. That is next time on TELL ME MORE.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.