Reality television star Kim Kardashian was a guest last week on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, promoting her selfie photo book Selfish. And many listeners didn’t love it, NPR ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen reported.
“By the dozens, they say they are ‘disgusted’ and ‘disappointed,’ and a handful are sure the show has ‘jumped the shark,'” Jensen wrote, noting some have said they wouldn’t donate to NPR anymore because of Kardashian’s 11-minute segment on NPR airwaves.
Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me’s executive producer Michael Danforth told Jensen Kardashian is “a totally normal booking” because Kardashian is “huge” and “culturally relevant.”
According to NPR’s website, Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me is “NPR’s weekly hour-long quiz program” featuring “some of the best and brightest in the news and entertainment world.”
“I’m still not sure what to make of this week’s outrage over Kardashian, who was indeed a surprising guest, given how often the show has pilloried her and her clan in the past. She wasn’t a great guest—she had a couple funny lines—but she was gracious,” Jensen wrote, adding she “was far from offended by her presence on an NPR show.”
That said, Jensen used her blogpost to flag the complaints of readers over Kardashian to NPR .
Mike Pesca, who interviewed Kardashian, wrote for Slate responding to the criticism. His June 18 blog post was titled “I Interviewed Kim Kardashian for NPR, and Listeners Revolted. Here’s Why They’re Wrong.”
Pesca said that the interview was “very pleasant” and “totally conformed to the needs” of the program. He argued that “there is a type of NPR listener — and it’s a type of media consumer, it goes way beyond NPR — that defines themselves by what they are not.”
“A news consumer might not like the vapidity of Kim Kardashian on her e-show—but at least if they are a fan of this news comedy show, might be curious enough to see what a comedy show does with this figure, in the context of comedy,” Pesca wrote.
California public radio KQED’s Emmanuel Hapsis reported on many commenters’ criticism of Kardashian’s appearance, remarking:
“There’s nothing wrong with knowing what you do and don’t care about. Do you, by all means. Where it becomes weird, in my opinion, is when people write off all pop culture as a badge of honor and deny knowledge of people like Kim Kardashian to broadcast something about themselves: I am smarter than that. I don’t have time to know anything about that. I’m too busy reading Russian novels and acing the Sunday New York Times crossword.”