We revisit Wednesday’s Forum segment with Frank Lindh, father of former Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh. NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard joins us to discuss the segment, which generated extensive listener response.

Frank Lindh – Listener Feedback 26 May,2011forum

Alicia Shepard, ombudsman for NPR

  • Emilypokeeffe

    Mr. Iverson,  
    Your interview this morning was very disturbing.  Your inaccuracies and attack posture was insulting to all of us who listen to NPR regularly and consider ourselves to be open minded Americans.  Shame on you.

  • Mandeep Singh

    Try not to justify the program this morning. Its a sure shot way to dig a deeper hole. It was a mistake, so instead examine why the research was inadequate and the questions so poorly crafted.  

  • Gabe Aponte

    I’m probably in the minority who thinks Mr. Iverson should be cut some slack. The crux of the matter here is that the MSM originally got the Lindh story completely wrong, asserting he was accused of aiding and abetting terrorism. That Mr. Iverson took these stories at face value and presented them as fact is a mistake we could have all made. If I read a story in the NYT I, at first glance, assume it’s factual and accurate, as I’m sure a lot of us do.

    Mr. Lindh was obviously here to dispel these stories and correct the record. Mr. Iverson kept asking him questions which implied that the originally reported stories were true. Mr. Iverson didn’t do his homework, but I think it was an honest mistake. I don’t suspect any malevolence on his behalf.

    • Ma2332

      Ombudsman Shepard said it: Dave, after continuous press for contrition from a guest who thinks the world has got the facts wrong, should have at some point realized there could be two sides of the story and said so. Instead, Dave took the NYT article as the last word and literally STUCK with it…stubbornly.

  • Dave C

    The fact that KQED and Dave Iverson have jumped on this and are revisiting this topic so quickly is a testament to their professionalism and their commitment to their listeners.  I can understand the desire to take the NY Times as gospel when trying to prepare for 10 shows a week.  I can also imagine that as a host, one would be reluctant to throw their research out the window in the face of what an interested party says.  Without having a guest with an opposing point of view on, Mr. Iverson had a responsibility to question anything that conflicted with his research. 

    Kudos to Mr. Lindh for keeping his composure.  And thanks to Mr. Iverson for his thoughtful, sensitive and humble work.

    Very much looking forward to today’s 10am show.

    • In what way did Mr. Iverson show thoughtfulness, sensitivity, and humbleness in today’s segment? To the contrary, he alluded that he thought the show was an overreactive response to unfounded criticism.  He cut people off.  He spoke quickly.  He made defensive statements.  All behavior of someone who feels unjustly attacked.  He tried to put a good face on it but his true feelings showed through.

      • Robert Schloss

        completely agree. I just listened to both these shows today (5/31) and was blown away by Mr. Iverson’s ‘interview’ & follow-up.  For all the “contrition” he seemed to want to bleed from Mr. Lindh (in my view, all of it unwarranted) he showed none for a flagrant oversight and in many respects was obliquely trying to perpetuate his defense through the reading of the plea agreement which was clearly structured in a way to try and save face for the gov’t. but did not support Mr. Iverson’s perseveration. He never apologized in a straight-forward responsible manner. 

        He also continued to try and use the NYTimes to indirectly ballast his intransigence; since when has the NYTimes been acknowledged as a sufficient/sole arbiter of truth/fact? All one has to to do is remind themselves of the lead-in to the Iraq invasion based (supposedly) on WMD and the whole Judith Miller fiasco in addition to many other examples. 

        I was really disappointed with Forum for this one and somewhat incredulous that they then orchestrated the follow-up with Mr. Iverson and the Ombudsmen in the manner they did. How objective can you be reviewing yourself?  shades of “Military Tribunals”.  

        The first show seemed to me to be nothing other than a more polished episode of CNN’s Nancy Grace with Mr. Iverson as Nancy (w/less eyeliner) trying to drive a politically scripted emotion based narrative not based in the actual facts or circumstances.

        Kudos to Mr. Lindh who more than held his own in a thoughtful, reasoned, & understandably directive manner. 

  • Chrisco

    Yes, I agree with Gabe that there is an overreaction and often personal reaction here. Criticism is surely warranted (although it is surprising KQED is having this segment). But there is no need to go over the top like this was some journalistic crime. Mr. Lindh had ample time to respond and clarify and claims and that is the most important thing.

    You know what real journalistic crimes are? When they play soundbites of a politician or public figure making demostrably false claims while not clarifying the reality. For instance, the use of “death panels” or “government takeover of health care”. These are totally false claims, but the media always air these snippets and let them stand, for instance at the top of the hour in a news blurb.

  • Chrisco

    I do think private citizens should be treated a little more gently than public officials for sure, although all should be given ample time to make their points or object to points. But Mr. Lindh is not just a private citizen here. He wrote a New York Times op-ed and is campaigning for a cause. And he is also an expert on the case. So he is not just some eyewitness or victim of a hurricane type private citizen. And considering his clarity and knowledge of the case, his objection to the opening should have been accepted. Not necessarily as true but just, “OK, well we have different information and let’s move on.”

  • Guest

    Well, I’m glad this is being talked about on the radio.

    “Mr. Lind is correct.  My introduction, along with the Times account it was based on, was not accurate.”

    Yep.  I was very disappointed by the original interview.
    A scholar called in and told the host he was wrong.
    He was blown off.
    Mr. Lind repeatedly told the host he was wrong.
    He was blown off.
    The mistake was repeated by the host over and over on the air.

    Who did the ‘research’?  Did anyone bother to follow up the Times story by looking for subsequent reports?  Did the Times correct its mistake, and would you have found that or another correction if you’d looked for it?

    I think it’s a mistake to try to spin this as “what kinds of questioning” are acceptable or whether private citizens should be treated differently.

    Getting the facts right isn’t a question open for discussion.

    “You are acknowledging that maybe this interview didn’t go well” — Ombudsman on the radio.

    No. He acknowledged he had his fact wrong, and repeated it over and over on the radio.

    “The interview, had you not made a mistake, might have gone in a different direction and been much more illuminating, and …”

    And the host as he very typically does interrupts with a typical “very interesting question” — which he consistently says when he wants to stop someone from saying something.

    Oh, well.

    Who did the research? Why wasn’t the mistake found?

  • Thomasthecat11

    Hey Dave,

    Keep your head up, the interview was fine. The New York Times was wrong, announce the correction and move on. We don’t need a whole segment with the “school counselor” going over the whole thing again. 

  • Natasha

    I think one way Dave could improve his interview technique is to button up a little more. There’s too much “Dave” and not enough “guests” or “listeners.” While I appreciate that Dave needs to cut off long-winded callers (and he usually does at the right moment), the problem is that he goes on to “sum up” the caller’s point, often rambling on for longer than the caller does! I’ve noticed this pattern for a while now, but just refer back to one of the last callers on the crime reduction interview — Dave cuts in, cuts her off, and then goes on to talk MUCH longer than she would have. Perhaps Dave needs to be less enamored of the sound of his own voice? Deadly for a professional radio interviewer…

    I do appreciate Dave’s insight. He’s smart and doesn’t need to keep proving it over and over again!

    • Mr. Iverson seems, in particular, to cut off both guests and callers with whom he disagrees.

    • Guest

      Thanks Natasha 🙂  I love FORUM and completely agree with your take on Dave Iverson’s interviewing style.  I’m surprised KQED hasn’t pointed out to Mr. Iverson that he talks WAY too much and cuts everyone off, not just people he disagrees with, but EVERYONE!   This unfortunately, makes all interviews by DAVE IVERSON all about DAVE IVERSON. 

      Ironically, he kept cutting off Alicia Shepard today and was completely defensive when she was pointing out the lessons to be learned about the mistakes made in yesterday’s interview. 

  • Conrad

    This is a really disappointing show already. Ombudsman Alicia Shepard appears simply to be supporting Dave Iverson’s excuses for his biased and embarassing interview yesterday.

  • Chrisco

    Sorry to pile on, but I think Dave is talking too much here in this segment. Seems to cut off Alicia Shepard too much and even though she can make her points, it is very annoying.

  • Anoel

    Thank you NPR for addressing the horrible interview of Mr. Lindh.  Dave Iverson so loves to hear the sound of his own voice and is completely annoying.  His interview yesterday was the worst interview I’ve heard on Forum and I listen everyday.  Michael Krasney how I wish you were interviewing Mr Lindh yesterday.  It would have been nice to hear Mr Lindh’s perspective on his son’s journey and life.

  • Hank


    “… To make the charge of providing material support to terrorists stick,
    the government must prove some difficult points. …
    It may be hard to make a case against him
    on this charge given what appears to have happened: Mr. Walker and his
    group hunkered down, fought against the Northern Alliance and then
    looked for a place to surrender. As Robert Pelton, who interviewed Mr.
    Walker on CNN, commented: ”He didn’t start this war fighting Americans.
    He simply ended up with Talibans being attacked by Americans.” There
    is no evidence that we know of that he shot at any American soldiers.
    His unit was in Kunduz, miles from Kabul, when the bombings began, and
    its members walked 100 miles to surrender near Mazar-i-Sharif.
    what about Mr. Walker’s prior actions in the training camps, financed
    by Osama bin Laden, where non-Afghan members of the Taliban learned how
    to use explosives and poisons? Because the law was not changed until
    October, his prior actions would not have been in violation of it. The
    Constitution prohibits punishing people for acts which, at the time they
    were committed, were not illegal….”

  • Steve

    This session seems to be about therapy for Dave. It was a pathetic interview. 

  • Kathleen Rehak

    The program now running sounds like Krazny is being “spanked” by station management to some unstated reason, such as threat of lawsuit, maybe. I simply don’t take the manager’s “correcting” Krazny at face value. That is, just a way of being more “factual.”  I call BS. Krazny’s interview was refreshing in it’s NOT kow-towing to the father’s lawyerly slanting the story to favor his “boy.”

    • Guest

      The host for that particular program is not Michael Krasney.

    • Gabe Aponte

      This was Iverson, not Krasny…

    • Chrisco

      Hello? Is there anybody in there?

  • guest

    Dave, listen to yourself!

    “And the host as he very typically does interrupts with a typical “very
    interesting question” — which he consistently says when he wants to
    stop someone from saying something.

  • vanja

    I started listening to today’s program and I think while there is something to be said about how yesterday’s program went, this goes a bit far and seems like a public flogging of a journalist. We all make mistakes, doctors make mistakes, ombudsmans make mistakes, I make mistakes (and you get to see the wrong online ads then). 

    On JL, I would sympathise with the family, I was in the Yugoslavian conflict and could have end up on the wrong side of the equation, let the guy go free.


  • Henry S

    What is the fact-checking protocol? The misstatement that Hemingway fought in the Spanish Civil War (he did not) was a red flag. When something so erroneous slips by unchallenged it undermines confidence in the program’s overall validity. One can understand the host’s (albeit misplaced) confidence in the New York Times, but once the guest so strikingly, the host could easily have just said, “All right, we will go back and research that issue again.” Instead, his words and his tone implied that he thought Mr. Lindh was either disingenuous or blinded by fatherly devotion. A disturbing tone and atmosphere underlay the whole thing.

  • Swahlstrom

    Dave thinks it is really interesting! How profound. I am getting upset all over again.

  • Marjan Shomali

    This is absolutely obsured.  You were very patient with this guy.  He was rude and kept cutting you off.  And why should John Lindh go free,  His allegence obviously is not to America and the dad doesn’t think that he did anything wrong.  Let’s first it, most muslims hate America.  Wake up and get the facts.

  • My problem with Mr. Iverson’s interview, beside the factual inaccuracy is that he needs to learn some voice intonation. He also cuts off people the wrong time, and does not let them finish their thoughts. When Mr. Iverson asks questions he says it with such a pathos; “Please tell me, he takes a looooong break raises his voice and continues the question. Mr. Iverson please leave the pathos to actors. I agree with Natasha too much “Dave” not enough “guest”.

  • Catie

    This seemed like an over-intellectualization of something that struck most listeners in the gut. I think we needed a more guttural response in return, like saying “sorry.” Instead, Dave chose to speak about the validity of sources and it didn’t hit the spot.

  • Jmlagerlof

    I am continually amazed at how people discussing journalism and/or criticism of coverage are defensive when criticized. the perfect example occurred a few moments ago when a caller 1) noted a shift to include more right-leaning perspective, 2) mentioned corporate support increasing and 3) questioned the decision of NPR to use the Bush frame of “enhanced interrogation techniques” for conduct which has been recognized to be torture.  the ombudsman responded that the Bush White House was entitled to coverage of its term and that she hoped people could leave this behind. Nothing she said to this caller was responsive to what I believe should be legitimate concerns of any news source.  

  • The source of trouble in Dave Iverson’s interview of John Walker Lindh’s father was not as much of interpretation of source materials as it was Iverson’s personal beliefs, which clearly tilt to the right and which have clearly manifested themselves in his other segments this week.  For example, in Tuesday’s interview of economist Tim Hartford he equated the preferred methodology (to reduce risk and enhance chances of success) to small scale trials (and failure and then retrial, repeat) with the ‘Republican’s policy preference for small scale trials in health care delivery.’  The Republicans consistently advocate full implementation of radical ideas, much like Paul Ryan has recently done. It was the Democrats that transformed some of them into small scale health care delivery experiments in “Obamacare.” Mr. Iverson wants to portray right-wing beliefs in a positive light, so yesterday he refused to allow Mr. Lindh to present any information that might allow listeners to think of his son’s case in a context other than that created by the Republican-side of the argument. Mr. Krasny should find someone other than Mr. Iverson to fill in for him on Fridays and when he takes holidays.

  • Petalear

    Wow. I was really impressed and fascinated by this discussion this morning. Not to mention Dave’s poise. “Defensive”??!! I have rarely in my life heard someone so graciously and authentically respond to criticism! 

    Also, in terms of journalists pushing the people they are interviewing… I love that the BBC does that and am often ashamed at the lack of will on the part of our media to press someone. We have to rely on comedians to do it usually (Jon Stewart, The Daily Show). How different would our country be if journalists actually asked questions based on their insights instead of simply requesting information from their interviewees. If Dave made a mistake based on the info he and his producers got from The New York Times (!!), so be it. Given what he believed to be true, it seemed right that he didn’t just accept everything Mr. Lindh said without question.Kudos to KQED and Dave for such transparency.  

  • Cpotenza

    Dave Iverson does not listen.  Nor does he account for himself…when the omsbudsman asked him what he thought…the most he answered was “interesting”  He interrogated Frank Lindh…he did not interview him.

    • Agreed, I think he is taking the whole thing lightly still and this is not “interesting” at all as he worded. 

      I don’t take this response as an appropriate or thoughtful answer coming out from a so-called  professional. As a matter of fact, I found the answer pretty distasteful. 

      He should be more humble and also accept the mistake he made.

    • Ma2332

      Agree! Dave would spend one hour in LIndh’s interview to get his “contrition” but he himself has never uttered the manly word “Sorry” for getting the fact wrong. A fact, by the way, is not a trivial fact but one that had kept a young American in jail for 10 years, or more…and not to mention a heart-broken father and family! Mr. Iverson, be a man and right the wrong!

  • Mark

    First off, Dave Iverson, I heartily agree with Ms Shepard’s opening comments.  Even the attempt at a self-effacing and constructive review and criticism of your own work and program speaks volume for you and Forum.  So thank you and KQED for taking it on.  It speaks very well for you.

    That being said, toward the close of the program today, the question arose whether Mr. Iverson should have even conducted *this* review program, or alternatively perhaps recused himself (although the word *recusal* was not used).  I think a hybrid would have been good….Mr. Iverson could have brought a disinterested moderator in and included himself and Ms Shepard as necessary parties to the discussion.  I value Mr. Iverson’s perspective on his own work as part of the discussion of what went down, although per se, it cannot nor ever would be objective.  Moreover, having Mr. Iverson as part of the panel in review may have mitigated the concern of Natasha’s comments below about Mr. Iverson “stepping on tongues” albeit in the interest of time.  I share a great deal of Natasha’s perspective.  A thought for similar situations and self-critical reviews going forward.

    Once again, thankyou for the whole Forum program…please continue the good work.  And I mean that with particularity to Mr. Iverson.

    Respectfully submitted,  -Mark
    (A long time listener and KQED FM member)

  • guest

    Does anyone have any thoughts on Alicia Shepbard’s hoping to “move on” comment regarding the use of the term torture vs. enhanced interrogation?
    Or her input in general?

    Can there be another ombudsman who is in charge of things like use of the  words “move on from?” It sounded very dismissive. 

    Also “A sense of” And “It feels like” should go. They just should.

  • Meettravis

    Is Dave trying to get a Fox News contract?

  • lisa

    I listened both yesterday and today. I just wished that yesterday’s segment could have been longer since this subject was obviously so complex with so many questions raised. Kudos to both Mr Iverson and Mr Lindh for navigating some challenging territory with frankness and respect. It’s too rare that a dispute of facts and an acknowledgment of error take place this constructively. I’m sincerely surprised by some of the comments here that seem to describe two different segments than the ones I listened to.

    I couldn’t help notice how remarkably this connected with the other interview yesterday with Tim Harford, author of “Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure.” In part, they discussed how the powerful premium placed on always being correct and infallible cheats us all of the irreplaceable learning that’s offered to us in any mistake or failure. I got the strong sense in today’s program that Mr Iverson was making every effort to not only acknowledge his mistakes but also to genuinely learn from them.

  • Guest

    What are you guys so upset about? I thought the original interview was fine. Dave Iverson pressed his guest using the information he had. He made him clarified his point, and gave him plenty of time to make his arguments.

    If anything, I thought the interview was good. It clearly illustrates misconceptions vs reality. It was actually very engaging because it made you wonder what the truth is, since both side had their own version of it.

    I think this interview did more good for Lindh’s son than had it been otherwise. It was effective in convincing me that the story we’ved been told is inaccurate, and there needs to be more fact checking.

    I think it was nice that Dave Iverson repeatedly questioned his guest against the facts that he had. Good interviewers need to challenge their guests, and make them clarify their statements. And Mr. Lindh did a really good job at that.

    Overall, it was actually one of the better interviews. Even the listener who called in were not annoying and had good input. All in all, a good day for NPR. What are you guys all mad about?

    I do agree that this response interview kinda sucked though…

  • Jrb707

    Be less quick to judge and more quick to question..

  • Bob Brandalise

    Bob BB

    I don’t know anything about NPR Job Titles, but I would never consider Dave Iverson a “Reporter”. At his best he is a mediocre “Talk Show Host”. it has been exruciating listening to his slow development. It has taken many years for Mr Iverson to develop even minimal program time management skills and he continues to hurry and overrun people’s thoughts. His treatment of callers is typically politely dismissive. He gives each caller approximately three sentences, thanks him, and cuts him off the air so he can rephrase the  question to fit into his own bullet chart of prepared points for the topic. It is as if he is afraid of interacting in free discourse, or heaven forbid, letting a caller interact directly with one of the expert guests. Is Mr Iverson so afraid of losing control of the program? Apparently so, Mr Lindh certainly revealed the shallow underpinnings of Mr Iverson’s  Forum presentation.

  • Pamela

    I really don’t understand the response to the interview with Mr. Lindh. It is absurd that this man can think his son is akin to Hemingway. It is also indicative of a whole wave of Marin style parenting where your child is special and does not need to take responsibility for his actions. Thank you for an excellent interview.

  • Steve

    It seems that many listeners expected a particular slant from the interview with Frank Lindh, and they are now upset because they mistake a rigorous interview for one that leans “right.”    Dave Iverson was perfectly correct to approach this interview with some skepticism.  A regurgitation of Frank Lindh’s New York Times apologia would have been pointless and uninteresting.

    • Ma2332

      This is not about a listener’s political slant; it’s all about a lot of listeners who heard the interview and heard and sensed a certain stubbornness in pressing the same question over and over again, in despite of the fact that the interviewed guest continuously corrected the misquoted source of facts expounded by Dave in the first place. It’s about the technique and etiquette of doing an interview. Lastly, it’s about saying “sorry” after acknowledging making a mistake. Didn’t hear it from Dave today!

      • Steve

        Frank Lindh was not being particularly honest in his NYT piece and during the interview.  Lindh writes in his op-ed,

        “There was nothing treasonous in John’s volunteering for the Afghan Army
        in the spring of 2001. He had no involvement with terrorism.”

        at 8:40 in the Forum interview Lindh states,

        “He [John Lindh] was not involved with terrorism at all.”

        It is true that John Lindh was not convicted of terrorism; however, as part of his plea agreement he that the following statement was true and facutal:

        “The defendant’s
        supplying services to the Taliban, by fighting in support of the Taliban, constituted
        a felony that involved, or was intended to promote, a federal crime of terrorism
        within the meaning of U.S.S.G. § 3A1.4, in that the Taliban’s control of Afghanistan,
        and the activities of those individuals fighting in support of the Taliban, provided
        protection and sanctuary to al Qaeda, a designated foreign terrorist organization.”

        Frank Lindh is desperately trying to separate the association between his son and the word “terrorism,” and he’ll bend the truth to do so.  Iverson acted appropriately when confronted with a hostile interview subject.  He owes no apology.

  • Ma2332

    If Dave is serious about having a critique on his Lindh interview, he should do two things: have a third-party guest this morning in his show to review the interview (although I must say Ombudsman Shepard of KQED has showed a lot of un-biase and just observations) and 2) invite Mr. Frank Lindh back for a second interview to straighten things out. How about a personal apology to the father for getting the facts wrong and for pushing so hard on trying to get “contrition” out of a Dad who believes his son has not been what the media has portrayed him to be. This is really serious matter. Dave didn’t get someone’s birthday or the Wall Street Dow index wrong, but a fact that ended up with someone being imprisoned for almost 10 years and could end any chance of doing justice a second time IF John Walker Lindh had any chance of a second trial.

  • Listener

    I am still shocked that Dave Iverson’s response to his huge mistake was “It’s interesting” Unfortunately, I don’t think falsely accusing someone of supporting a terrorist organization to the entire Bay Area is “interesting”. His interview and his response was unacceptable to me.

  • Brian Treusch

    Brian –

    As a former CBS News journalist, and KGO-TV news technician, I understand how easy it was to read the New York Times description(s) of the Lindh trial, and quickly come to the conclusion that he was, indeed, a justifyably convicted terrorist.
    What needs to be closely examined is the role that New York Times plays in establishing the “master narrative” for a great many American news stories and reports.
    At CBS News, it was nearly impossible to report on a subject that had not previously appeared in the New York Times. Additionally, the Times’ “master narratives were generally very closely followed in the reports on the Evening News with Walter Cronkite.
    It’s not that the Times is inherently biased, but that we Americans have very, very few alternative national news organizations that have the resources and time/space to adequately analyze the information that governmental agencies generate.
    Clearly Lindh was guilty of “youthful indiscretions” but he is hardly a hardened terrorist.
    Would we be willing to convict George Bush for crimes committed by his fellow Yale fraternity mates?  I see no difference between the two men.
    – Brian Treusch, Oakland, CA

    • Duane


      I heartily agree with your points regarding the news business and where the former administration clearly broke the law (i.e. Valerie Plame), at a minimum.  We differ on the conclusion about Lindh’s activities and/or intentions.  We just don’t know.  We only know what’s been published which surely is just scratching the surface what the government learned about his activities.  I’m open to him being exonerated as a latrine cleaner or camp cook, just as I am open to hearing whether he opened fired on women and children (or assisted those who were) in true Taliban-style.  But we don’t know…  and may never know.

  • guest

    Just listened to the original interview and I’m having a politically incorrect reaction… John is portrayed by his father as a normal, peace loving young man raised in a wealthy liberal community–who just happened to convert at 16 (possibly after watching Malcolm X!) to a very foreign religion which requires women to cover their heads and faces and denies them most of the rights given to men. What leads a young White male to do this?! I suspect mental health problems at best, the desire to dominate others at worst–which to me makes him an unreliable source for information about his motives and actions. And makes me wonder about his upbringing.
    If John is released from jail, he should be released because he has served an unfortunately long sentence or because he didn’t commit a crime, not because he’s a nice boy who never intended any harm. It is legal to have bad intentions. And I don’t care much what they were, because I think we will never know.
    (Before you say I’m religiously intolerant, let me be clear that I think it’s one thing to be raised in a Muslim tradition, quite another for a privileged White man to seek it out.)
    Based on the portrayal of John’s character, we are supposed to believe that this young man was thinking clearly when he joined a foreign guerrilla army and trained in their camps…and somehow never heard an anti-American word. It’s fine if he did; he’s a free man…but why the unlikely denial?Apparently his parents trust whatever their son says (and we should trust them) even though their son vanished into the mountains of Pakistan for seven months without a word to them.I’m sure there were some heated conversations about this religious conversion in the Lindh household. But not a trace of ambivilance is to be heard, which is perhaps partly what Dave was getting at I think… Something smells fishy. It might not be, but that’s the effect of all that denial.

  • Trish

    I am saddened by the mean spirited comments and personal attacks directed at host Dave Iverson.  There were mistakes made yesterday but Dave Iverson isn’t a robot and today’s attacks on him just seem wrong.

    • Leo

      I wonder if Michael Krasney, Neal Conan or Terry Gross  would have conducted the interview in the same way?  I don’t think these are mean spirited comments and personal attacks,  but just members and listeners speaking out and letting KQED know that we expect a certain standard of journalism and truthfulness in their shows.  One of the most important qualities of a host is to listen to the person who they are interviewing and obviously Dave wasn’t able to listen at all to what this man was saying.  I was extremely disappointed because it could have been a very interesting and important conversation.

  • Jack

    I praise KQED and Dave for airing this session the very next day. I was one of the critics online yesterday. I listened to the original interview again and still think that the interview did not play out well in the sense that it did not help inform the listeners. But I do want to acknowledge that Dave gave Mr. Lindh ample time to explicate. We listeners also have to acknowledge that most local listeners’ political views – dominantly liberal including mine – probably were not irrelevant. Listeners react because they do care. NPR’s “Fresh Air” recently aired a book review that implied blatant racism against a Korean author. So many listeners condemned the review online and demanded apology for a long time. But the host and producers simply ignored it. “Fresh Air” lost me. I am glad that KQED is not doing that. 

  • Alegra

    While Dave did make a mistake, (incorrect information), I don’t think he deserves the backlash he has received.  We all make mistakes.  I also think it is a hosts job to ask probing questions.  The interview probably would have gone better if Dave had had his facts right to begin with, however, I do think Mr. Lindh was a difficult person to interview.  He was obviously in a lot of denial.  I found it appalling that he tried to paint his son as a hero, even comparing his son”s actions to Hemingway’s.

    I also strongly disagree with Alicia Shepard’s writing it off as boys will be boys.  John Lindh is old enough to be accountable for his actions.  I don’t think many men his age would join the army of the Taliban, an extremely repressive, violent regime.  

    • Leo

      Sorry, but did we listen to the same interview?  The problem wasn’t just about clarifying the misinformation, but Dave didn’t move pass that point and the interview was painfully stuck at the same point and basically wasn’t an interview.  Even when the professor of law at UC Berkeley chimed in to clarify the misinformation, Dave was reluctant to move on with the interview.  I think Dave needs to listen more than he does talk.

  • guest

    I am astonished at the tone of most of these comments.  Dave Iverson cuts people off?  Dave Iverson likes the sound of his own voice?  I look forward to Fridays when Dave is on as a respite from Michael Krasny who does these things to a much greater degree than Dave.  I listen because there are interesting guests, but good luck to them getting their point across while Michael continually interrupts to puff himself up by inserting some reference to a piece of arcana, or implying that he knows more about the guest’s topic than the guest– as often as not keeping the guest from completing a thought.  Dave’s interview style is thoughtful, respectful, and engaging. 

    • Jack

      Michael has good qualities as the host. But I have to agree that he speaks like a guest a little too often. PBS Newshour Margaret Warner is my favorite. She is extremely well prepared and ask most important but pointed questions, while she clarifies but remains disciplined by being a host. She enhances the guests’ performance to a great extent. The hosts will fail when they want to be a star on the stage themselves. 

  • Dan Brekke

    Someone asked me recently asked me what my philosophy of the news was. I said something about fairness and accuracy, which sounds simple but can be profoundly difficult. The other person responded, “I worked with a guy once who said, ‘Yeah, I can tell you my news philosophy: Get it right.” Hard to argue with that. 

  • matt in the central valley

    I listened to both shows yesterday. Mr. Iverson didn’t seem to accept any responsibility. He certainly likes to say “interesting” a lot, and especially when he’s cutting off a comment which is critical of him. I’d be grateful if Forum could find another backup host. I generally am disappointed when he is the host.

  • Steven Weissman

    After listening to both recordings (the interview and this critique), I am struck with the irony.  Mr. Iverson kept hammering Frank Lindh about what Iverson saw as the lack of contrition, and yet Mr. Iverson never apologized for having perpetuated unfactual information and continuing to hammer Mr. Lindh about it after being corrected.  The fact that Mr. Iverson invited critique is admirable, but the entire collective act of media irresponsibility concerning the John Walker Lindh case is frightening.

  • Tony

    Why did Dave Iverson cut off the ombudsman so many times in this interview. He often interjected his own long-winded commentary before she finished what she had to say.

  • Mary

    I listened to the interview today (27th) and have no problem with the give and take in general.  Challenge to guest’s statements is healthy if NPR’s research suggests they are wrong.  

    And I think that even though Lindh Sr. is not a a prof. journalist, he did put out his views publically and that puts his views  out for debate. 
    It is unfortunate that the Dave had some facts wrong and when the UC professor called to weigh in on the facts Dave sort of dismissed him. 

    Probably the best thing would have been to move on tot John W. Lindh’s chance at parole etc. once you’d challenged Lindh’s position once. 
    I thought Dave was always respectful and couched your opinions in the mode of ‘we agree to disagree’ tone.  Other stations that debate a point loudly forever is NOT my type of radio.Anyway – I thought you did a good job overall and held Lindh to defend his position.

  • Dennis D

    The problem is that Dave barely knew a topic. He just pushed his own agenda which is some naive view of the truth, hardly scratching beneath the surface. I used to have NPR programmed on my radio but heard too many interviews with these Pollyanna professors or “economists” touting the great job the Fed is doing or how well the economy is doing.They never push those they interview. They obviously want a return to status quo. I suppose it’s a decent show for children.

  • Ant

    Wednesday’s broadcast was striking. The calmly determined, humble Mr. Lindh responded aptly to Dave Iverson’s rude and condescending interview style. This follow-up session was no easier to bear. The theme should NOT have been “whether private citizens should be interviewed differently”, but what exactly Iverson may have unfairly excluded from the discussion through his inaccuracy and rude interviewing style.

    Iverson’s point is irrelevant anyway. Frank Lindh is not only a lawyer but the father of someone unjustly imprisoned. His position merits extreme sensitivity, and in my eyes, public attention. It’s a unique case. Iverson’s attempt in the follow-up segment to broaden the issues at hand seems merely an escape-route from criticism.

    Finally, I’d love a longer feature on John Walker Lindh. The remnants of Bush-era scapegoating should not be brushed aside. Focused scrutiny on instances like the Lindh case should be requisite.

    Finally, my empathy to the Lindh family as they’ll surely encounter many more obstructions than the obstinacy of one over-anxious KQED journalist.

  • Bruce

    I think Dave Iverson conducted the interview well. When guests come on Forum to push an agenda, whether personal or political, the interviewer should be skeptical and challenge the guest on their statements. Otherwise, Forum would be no more than a version of Fox News.

    I would also like to take issue with the ombudsman. She seemed to be sympathetic with Mr. Lindh’s position that his son was a victim of circumstance. That John Walker Lindh’s actions were on the same order as a frat boy prank gone awry with her “I know 20 year olds & boys wil be boys” type comment. This “20 year old” made a conscious decision to travel to Pakistan and Afghanistan; join a local group of muslim fanatics closely allied with an international terrorist group; and take up arms against his country. She should try out her “boys will be boys” argument with the mother of a fallen soldier or marine who gave his life defending our country.

  • guest

    I appreciated that Dave conducted the 2nd show with Alicia Shepard (I heard 2 listeners say Dave shouldn’t have conducted the show).  It was essentail for Dave to conduct the show, as it was a discussion of what he’d done wrong/right.  And I applaud KQED for having the 2nd show, opening up the discussion that sometimes interviews don’t go well, and for including Ms Shepard in the discussion.   Also, not knowing a lot about the interview process, I was intrigued to hear abt the “pre-interview.”  Considering this, I’m surprised the staff did not provide Dave with more information that there are clearly 2 sides of the story.  IT would have been a much more interesting discussion to flesh out the potential “assumptions” abt this story, vs Mr. Lindh and his son’s version.  I appreciated Mr. Lindh’s comments to clarify the typical misunderstandings of the story.  And I agree w/Ms. Sheperd that I’d like to have heard much more abt the Lindh’s experience through this process.  Forum is an excellent show, keep up the great work!

  • Joan

    I was very disturbed by Mr. Iverson’s interview with Mr. Lindh. Dave failed to listen and did not consider Mr. Lindh”s explanations of his son’s actions or the plea agreement. He persisted in repeating his position even after a professor telephoned to say Mr. Lindh was telling the truth that the young man had not admitted to terrorism.  I was astounded at Mr. Iverson’s lack of compassion and unwillingness to pay any attention to the actual details of John Walker Lindh’s activities.  He seemed to ignore Mr. Lindh’s statement that his son had been fighting to protect civilians from the war lords.  Mr. Iverson surely did not have enough background about the situation in Afghanistan when the war began.  He seemed to think that Lindh could have immediately known or just left when the USA declared war.  Mr. Iverson’s failed to listen.  He seemed bent on insisting that young Lindh was a terrorist and deserved all that he has suffered. Like the New York Times, he fell for the government’s attempt to confuse the public by using the term terrorism in the statement. My sympathy for Mr. Lindh grew as I listened to him politely and calmly try to tell his son’s story. We all remember a raving, injured John Walker Lindh when he was first taken into custody. I for one wanted to know what had really happened and how he was treated by our soldiers. Was his group trying to fight, to surrender or to protect themselves?  No one claimed that Lindh ever fired at Americans.  Mr. Iverson missed an opportunity to let Mr. Lindh present more information which we could have all evaluated.  Instead he made the interview all about his own inadequate research. I was so embarrassed and sickened that Mr. Lindh had been treated this way in our city. 

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