CPB Office of the Ombudsman

WGBH Revisited

Joel Kaplan

July 23, 2013

In April, WGBH radio listener Patricia Newman complained about the Boston Public Radio program hosted by Margery Eagan and Jim Braude. In particular, Ms. Newman was upset about comments made by Ms. Eagan in support of U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch in his losing Democratic primary battle against U.S. Rep. Ed Markey.

At the time, Phil Redo, managing director of news for WGBH, said he agreed with Ms. Newman's complaint that Ms. Eagan, a columnist for the Boston Herald, was inappropriately opining on her support of Mr. Lynch. Mr. Redo said he spoke to Ms. Eagan and she understands that she should not be sharing her personal political viewpoints with her listeners.

But last month, Ms. Newman called into the Corporation for Public Broadcasting again. Once again she complained about the coverage of Mr. Markey's race for the U.S. Senate, this time concerning his general election campaign against Republican Gabriel Gomez.

Ms. Newman said that following one of the debates between Mr. Markey and Mr. Gomez, the radio station had an hour-long analysis with a Republican and three people from the station on the panel but no Democrat. She said the entire hour was spent promoting Mr. Gomez and when she called the station to complain was told that it had already received several other complaints from listeners.

This time Mr. Redo dismissed the complaint.

"I don't know what to make of this woman," he said. "We spoke with Margery about the initial complaint and addressed the problem. This woman simply seems to be complaining because she doesn't agree."

"I get these kinds of complaints from all sides, whether it's with people complaining about how we do the weather forecast or not covering other issues they think are important. I appreciate her calling in, but I don't know at what point we can satisfy that person."

Ms. Newman's complaint of bias did not appear to have much effect on the outcome of the election. Mr. Markey handily beat Mr. Gomez by 10 percentage points.

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