In Which NPR And Congressional Oversight Panel Chair Elizabeth Warren Hate Each Other

While we were concentrating on other things (Snuggie testing, for example), there has apparently been something of a backlash going on against NPR’s Planet Money podcast for its rude treatment of Congressional Oversight Panel Chair Elizabeth Warren. NPR’s Adam Davidson has since expressed regret that he talked over Ms. Warren in a rude way — but despite the mea culpa, a series of links about the issue has popped up in our inbox more than a week later.

So what was the argument about? Davidson takes issue with Warren’s “point of view,” and wants her to “put aside [her] pet issues” until the financial crisis is over. When she’s not keeping an eye on the bailout, Warren is a Harvard law professor who teaches contract law, bankruptcy, and commercial law. She’s extremely interested in debt and its affect on the American family — a topic about which she has co-authored several books.

This concerns Davidson because he is worried that Warren, who he introduces as someone who is on Fresh Air a lot for her work on “credit and bankruptcy and financial stuff,” is in “opposition to the banks.” Davidson maintains that TARP has “one problem to solve” which is not to “look at 30 years of inequity to the American family or the other issues that she happens to care passionately about.”

Warren defends herself, claiming that the debt crisis and the banking crisis are the same thing, and that you can’t have a healthy banking system without considering the American consumer.

The Colombia Journalism Review has a partial transcript of the interview, or you can listen to the entire thing here:

ADAM DAVIDSON: What it feels to me is what you are missing is that – I think we put aside your pet issues. We put them aside. We put them aside until this crisis is over.

ELIZABETH WARREN: The cr- What you’re saying makes no sense. Now come on. [interpolate Davidson sputtering and attempting to interrupt throughout.] It makes no sense. On an emergency basis, on one day, one week, one month, there’s no doubt in my mind we’ve got to step in, we’ve got to make sure we have a functioning banking system. I think I’ve said that like nine times now. Of course we’ve got to have a functioning banking system.

DAVIDSON: Wait a minute. I want to make you go further. I want to make you madder before I –

ELIZABETH WARREN: No no no. [Davidson snickers] We’re now at what – we’re now seven, eight months into this. And it’s the second part of what you said. We can’t do anything about the American family until this crisis is over? This crisis will not be over until the American family begins to recover. [More Davidson sputtering.] This crisis does not exist independently –

DAVIDSON: That’s your crisis.

ELIZABETH WARREN: No it is not my crisis! That is America’s crisis! If people cannot pay their credit card bills [Davidson tries to interrupt] if they cannot pay their mortgages –

DAVIDSON: But you are not in the mainstream of views on this issue. You are not –

ELIZABETH WARREN: What, if they can’t pay their credit card bills the banks are gonna do fine? Who are you looking at?

ELIZABETH WARREN: Who says a bank, a bank is going to survive – Who is not worried about the fact that the Bank of America’s default rate has now bumped over 10%? That’s at least the latest data I saw. So the idea that we’re going to somehow fix the banks and then next year or next decade we’re going to start worrying about the American family just doesn’t [Davidson talking over] make any sense.

DAVIDSON: The American families are not – These issues of crucial, the essential need for credit intermediation are as close to accepted principles among every serious thinker on this topic. The view that the American family, that you hold very powerfully, is fully under assault and that there is – and we can get into that – that is not accepted broad wisdom. I talk to a lot a lot a lot of left, right, center, neutral economists [and] you are the only person I’ve talked to in a year of covering this crisis who has a view that we have two equally acute crises: a financial crisis and a household debt crisis that is equally acute in the same kind of way. I literally don’t know who else I can talk to support that view. I literally don’t know anyone other than you who has that view, and you are the person [snicker] who went to Congress to oversee it and you are presenting a very, very narrow view to the American people.

ELIZABETH WARREN: I’m sorry. That is not a narrow view. What you are saying is that it is the broad view to think only about trying to save the banks [Davidson sputters] and say “Hey! the American economy will recover at some point and we’ll worry about the families [Davidson talking over].” I think that is the narrow view and I think I have the broad view. The broad view is that these two things are connected to each other. And the notion that you can save the banking system while the American economy goes down the tubes is just foolish.

You can listen to NPR’s reaction to the backlash here. The conclusion was that NPR should have treated Ms. Warren with the same level of respect that they gave to another recent interviewee — Tim Geithner.

So, bad manners aside, who is right?

So That’s Why the Press Won’t Cover Elizabeth Warren! [CJR]
Hear: Elizabeth Warren Checks In [NPR Planet Money]
Hear: Follow Suit [NPR Planet Money]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    I normally love Planet Money, but they got it wrong on this one.

  2. Jeff Newman says:

    I haven’t heard of this outside of this post, but I think Warren is absolutely correct. The bank problem/crisis is based on really stupid and irresponsible lending practices, but for each of those decisions, there is real person and family having serious repercussions of debt they cannot meet their obligations on.

  3. JGKojak says:

    Wow… remember when NPR used to be considered “liberal”???

    What kind of right-wing Foxnews taxi did this guy arrive on?

    • RogerTheAlien says:

      @JGKojak: You know how every now and then Fox News throws liberals a bone and makes a feeble attempt to have a more left-thinking pundit on the air? Well, maybe this is NPR’s feeble attempt. But yeah, what a douche. I’m not sure if I feel sorrier for Ms. Warren for having to put up with this turd-burglar, or for Davidson who now looks like a huge jerkface.

    • theodicey says:

      @JGKojak: That’s financial journalism for you. Alan Greenspan still rules their world.

      If Warren were (god forbid) skeptical about international trade, he would have been even ruder — or just cut her off.

      Growth above all! Equity later if ever! You’ll get your trickle down and like it, peasant!

      • Drew5764 says:

        @theodicey: In what world does he qualify as right wing? He’s telling her to shut up and take the Fed’s direction without consideration of anything else. You’re really trying to spin that as RIGHT WING???

        • tinyhands says:

          Do you know of another definition of right wing that you’re not telling us about? “Protect big business over consumers and unquestioningly trust the government.” That couldn’t be more black-and-white right wing ideology if you tried.

          I’m not saying which position I believe to be correct, but get your facts straight. Right-wing ideology does not believe that the government needs an oversight committee or that individuals need protection.

          • Timbojones says:

            @tinyhands: Classic conservatives (aka right-wing) believe in small government above almost all else. Social conservatives (neo-cons) have distorted the right wing into a snarling monster of fascist Christian ideologies.

    • Harlan says:

      @JGKojak: Adam Davidson, if you listen to all of his stories, is actually sorta a left-libertarian. He actually tends to support nationalization of the big banks, for example. In any case, he was wrong in this interview, both in his argument (Warren cleaned his clock) and in his style (totally unprofessional, and it’s a wonder he wasn’t fired).

  4. m4ximusprim3 says:

    I find it incredibly hard to believe that anyone can argue the opposite point to Mrs. Warrens. It seems like such a self-evident truth that you shouldn’t have to argue it.

    That’s like saying “I know nobody’s reading books anymore, but we’ll deal with that AFTER we get the libraries back on track!”

  5. Meg Marco says:

    @katstermonster: my bad

  6. ephdel says:

    Its the job of the american family to fix themselves. we can’t keep bailing irresponsible people out, just like we can’t keep bailing out irresponsible companies and banks. Honestly, I think the majority of the US population has a lot of growing up to do.

    • Charles Duffy says:

      @ephdel: What we need isn’t a “bailout”, and arguing that it’s bailouts that Mrs. Warren is advocating is disingenuous; what we need is fairness.

    • pal003 says:


      So WHO was the Irresponsible party when Chase told their Loan Processors “how to game the loan approval system.”

      “Chase mortgage memo pushes ‘Cheats & Tricks'”

      1) In the income section of your 1003, make sure you input all income in base income. DO NOT break it down by overtime, commissions or bonus.

      2) NO GIFT FUNDS! If your borrower is getting a gift, add it to a bank account along with the rest of the assets. Be sure to remove any mention of gift funds on the rest of your 1003.

      3) If you do not get Stated/Stated, try resubmitting with slightly higher income.
      Inch it up $500 to see if you can get the findings you want. Do the same for assets.

      So Chase tell the loan processor to just LIE in the Application Approval System. How Responsible of Them!

      and now What’s that about Bailouts and Fairness?

      Wall Street Greed Rules!!!

      • ephdel says:


        right. thats how NINA loans were born. it was a bad bank practice but thats not to say, though, that the people who accepted or didn’t question them were in the green either. can you honestly tell me that if you were going to get a loan you wouldn’t carefully review the numbers yourself before signing, or that you wouldn’t check the information for accuracy?

        I believe the underlying problem is in how we’ve been educated, as well as in our sense of right and wrong.

        • pal003 says:

          @ephdel: I get it now.

          You’re one of those that think Greed is Good, Corporations Do Nothing Wrong – and Dick Cheney is a nice guy.

          You are commenting in the wrong place – you’ll he happier over at CNBC with friends like Santelli and Cramer.

          • ephdel says:

            actually, i’m not. before you accuse me of being a conservative-right-wing-a$$hole you should know i happen to be a Libertarian. i don’t know how many times i can say this before you will understand; WE ARE ALL AT FAULT HERE. i don’t know about you, but when was a kid my parents taught me to fess up to my actions, and to do my best to help the people around me when i saw they were having trouble, to tell a teacher when i knew a kid was cheating; to generally do the right thing. if i took out a NINA loan, even though i haven’t, i’d acknowledge that i fell into a trap i should have seen. the signs were all obvious. should these companies be held accountable? YES. should the people who accepted these deals from the banks be let off the hook? NO! did people who spent money irresponsibly simply be granted a second chance because we feel sorry for them? NO! we need to start doing the right things as individuals and work hard for what we want. if we can’t afford it, we will just have to save for it. it’s that simple.

            when i wanted to buy a car, i saved up enough to pay for more than half of it up front, and got a auto loan with a FIXED APR that was made low by the fact that i payed so much up front. i could afford the car, and i showed to the credit union i was capable of paying my bills. and guess what? before i even bought the car, i shopped around for credit unions that looked like good business’s. i spent maybe 20 hours finding a good credit union and the results payed off.

            oh, and i guess you forgot that we live in a capitalist society? ever read Adam Smith? ever taken a finance or economics or even basic business management course? if you had you’d understand the BASIS of how our economy works. it’s the idea of free business giving consumers the option to shop around for what they want, which forces companies to evolve. the only thing these companies force on people is the illusion that they don’t have choice. but with the way you accuse and attack me, you sound just like a marxist with that implied snarl, which doesn’t help your argument. what i want is a United States that isn’t reliant on credit anymore, like we used to have…

  7. jp7570 says:

    Elizabeth warren appears to be one of the few people in charge of trying to extract us from this crisis that is both well-spoken and able to explain the sometimes arcane exotic concepts that got us into this mess in the first place.

    I have seen her intereviewed on everything from 60 Minutes to Real Time and she always is able to clearly communicate what is wrong and what needs to happen.

    Unlike many Ivy League academics, she clearly has her feet in the real world and is in a key position to make an immediate positive impact.

    • GuinevereRucker says:

      @jp7570: I’m horribly ill-informed and haven’t heard Mrs. Warren much, but I must say that the debate style where people keep interrupting each other isn’t fun. I was brought up to keep silent when others are talking, and I expect the same from others. That transcript bugs me.

  8. You-Me-Us says:

    If you want your voice to be heard on this or any other NPR-related matter, contact NPR’s ombudsman, Alicia Shepard. Go to the NPR website and click the “contact us” icon. That takes you to a page where you can direct your comments to Ms. Shepard. It’s her job to listen to you and if she feels an apology from Mr. Davidson is warranted, you can rest assured one will be forthcoming.

  9. Nolarchy says:

    I know Dave Ramsey is a big fan of hers. I tend to think she’s nailed this one. Who are defaulting on mortgages, credit cards, etc. but American families. You can’t fix one without fixing the other.

  10. RStui says:

    I’m not sure why it’s so acceptable to the Gov’t that they bail out banks who then turn around and hold the American public hostage to 17, 20 and 24% interest rates, and THEN they can say that it’s ok that the banks are bailed out, because now the economy will right itself, while IGNORING the fact that your average American CAN’T PAY THEIR BILLS.

    Of course the two are intertwined. To say otherwise is completely disingenous and insulting to my intelligence.

  11. Trai_Dep says:

    I agree. LUVS me Planet Money, and Adam Davidson is more than a competent reporter.
    But his tone was WAY off (and for Ms Warren, only; when interviewing male authority figures, he’s much more restrained).
    More to the point, Ms Warren had an EXCELLENT point: you have to treat the entire Financial Meltdown as a symptom of a broader systemic shortcoming. The prognosis (the US economy can’t heal until the broad middle class is healthy; the financial sector must develop business models that don’t involve raping said middle class in favor of the uber-wealthy) is something quite valid to discuss.

    VERY short-sighted. VERY disappointing.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @Trai_Dep: he comes across as very arrogant in this segment & dare i say chauvinist. not only is he second guessing ms. warren’s policies & decisions, but also the congress critters that created the panel & appointed the officials. now, normally, i don’t have a problem second guessing congress, but the way he says it – all i can think is, “who the fuck do you think you are?!?”

  12. crichton007 says:

    I listen to this podcast and I agree with Adam’s point of view but his argument was not articulate (neither was his apology). I don’t know why they got into the argument (I never went to the site to listen to the interview in its entirety). Get over it people.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I normally love Planet Money, too, and I love Adam Davidson and the rest of the crew.

    But I was appalled at how Adam Davidson treated her. I mean, first of all, she’s completely right. How can we fix the system for good if we don’t solve the problem with families?? And I would think Adam would see this, considering how closely he’s covered this issue.

    And second, he didn’t cover this as an objective journalist entertaining all sides and letting everyone express their viewpoint. He just showed up at that interview with his biases exposed and both guns blazing.

  14. Trai_Dep says:

    Although, I think that before people can participate in the poll, they need to correctly complete a weeder poll that tests their knowledge of CDSs vs CDOs, GNP vs GDP and nominal vs real inflation rates. For example.

    • m4ximusprim3 says:

      @Trai_Dep: Yes and no. You don’t have to be a climatologist to realize we should stop dumping shit in the atmosphere.

      There are, as you said, wide scale systemic problems which eroded the foundation of our economy and lead to this collapse. You don’t have to know the difference between a CDS and a CDO to realize that banks make money at the expense of the populace rather than for its betterment.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Everyone would benefit from listening more to Ms. Warren and her views. The American consumer has been the pray of Corporate Amercia for far too long. Those that say that we cannot continue to bailout citizens who get themselves into trouble trouble me greatly.

    When corporations are rewarded for screwing their customers and protected by laws drafted by their lobbyists, we have a truly corrupt and unjust system. It is time that the playing was made truly level and that a truly free market was there for real and fair competition.

    Unfortunately, that is not what we have, but it is what must be dismantled and corrected if our society is to truly prosper.

  16. William Brinkman says:

    Nothing like a bootstraps post before I hit the treadmill! It’s nice to be able to channel frustration.

    I’m sure you’re far more educated on the financial and social climates of America than Ms. Warren. Maybe she should hire you! You can be in charge of BOOSTRAPS AMERICA!

    Duffy has it right. She’s arguing for fairness, transparency, and equal opportunity. You’re a buffoon.

    • ephdel says:

      @William Brinkman:

      the system was fair before, provided anyone making a financial decision was responsible enough to educate themselves. no i’m not nearly as well versed in finance as Warren, but that doesn’t change the fact that by diverting the perception of responsibility we are making this kind of behavior more acceptable. Back in the 20’s and 30’s American’s had the mentality of fixing their own problems, maybe with a little help, but they knew that they were personally responsible for their own success’s and failures; the only thing that has changed is the perception that we are not AS responsible for our failures.

      go ahead, call me a buffoon, insults generally make arguments less valid. but then, i guess thats what you need to resort to when you rely on rhetoric.

      • RandomZero says:

        @ephdel: “the system was fair before, provided anyone making a financial decision was responsible enough to educate themselves.”

        Every time I hear this argument, I can’t help thinking of the opening scene to the Hitchiker’s Guide.

        “It was ‘on display’ in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’ on it!”

        Basically, the companies do everything they can to obfuscate this information. At some point, they need to be held accountable for this. If people don’t try to educate themselves, that’s one thing – but it’s ridiculously hard to get the information you need to make an informed decision as it stands. That shit needs to stop. You should not need to trick the CC company 9to get the contract before the card) and hire a lawyer (to understand the nuances of the contract) for a credit card.

        • ephdel says:


          if something sounds too good to be true…

          you make a good point, but i feel like a lot of people are quick to blame the companies when it is the fault of both parties, the american family (every day joe) and the companies that are trying to exploit them. i’m not arguing that companies should be let off the hook, i’m arguing that we ALL need to accept responsibility and take steps to educate ourselves properly so we don’t fall into the same trap again.

          it takes almost no effort to go and find information of any kind on the internet or in your local library, most of which have free internet access. honestly, if information is that well hidden that you can’t find it within 15 minutes, you may want to reconsider whatever financial decision you are making, as you may not have the best set of variables. If we were talking about Healthcare, i would say screw the Medical insurance companies, but we should not, as individuals, be at the mercy of financial institutions. If that contract is too complicated, consider another company. if that rate seems too good to be true, don’t trust it. God did not make the banks look the other way so you can get a $500,000 loan when you only make 50,000 a year. This should all be common sense.

          oh, and why shouldn’t a person be expected to learn legal-ese? we should be trying to better ourselves and our personal situations all the time, “not being able to do something” doesn’t mean “can’t or shouldn’t be able to do it”

  17. Damocles57 says:

    There is a myth of the objective reporter who listens to and weighs both sides of an issue and then reports on the merits/downsides of each perspective. And there is a myth of reasoned discourse where one person listens to and waits to respond to the comments of another. While I didn’t always agree with Bill Buckley, Jr., I always admired his decorum with the guests on his shows.

    I generally turn off the radio or TV if people are talking over each other as it is clear neither is listening to or evaluating the concepts presented. The rush to shout an opinion in the hope that volume will sway someone when reason will not has become too common place.

    I believe in this example, Adam was too aggressively promoting his personal agenda without letting Ms. Warren develop and flesh out her perspect and motivations for advocating the course of action she believes in.

    Adam’s frequent references to Ms. Warren not following the common “wisdom” or walking in lock-step with the “real experts” in the field struck me as someone who doesn’t understand what really happened, what is happening, or how a different set of rules/expectations is needed now. He also struck me as someone who seems to fawn over the people he considers the real experts and in being able to parrot their words to his audience.

    Why Adam thinks we can rely on the same type of “wisdom” that contributed to the mess we are in to solve the problems we are facing is confusing to me.

    • Harlan says:

      @Damocles57: The problem with this specific show was that Adam was both the interviewer and the advocate. He should have let Chana moderate a conversation between him and Warren. I have no problem with reporters taking off their reporter hats and acting as advocates for a position. But they have to take off the hats!

      • Damocles57 says:

        Following is a quote from Planet Money’s FAQ on their web site:

        “What is ‘Planet Money?’

        ‘Planet Money’ is an NPR multimedia team covering the global economy. It’s also the name of our blog, Twitter feed and podcast.

        We think a lot of people feel overwhelmed by the global economy. They know it’s affecting their lives. But they don’t know how to dive in, and they don’t find most stories in most media outlets helpful.

        We think this because we feel the same way. But we’re lucky. We work at NPR and can call the leading economic thinkers and ask them to explain things to us. Slowly.”

        I still believe it was Adam’s responsibility and role to listen to what Ms. Warren was trying to say, see if the merits of her complete description would achieve the stated objectives, and then test different aspects of the described scenario by using specific, concrete counter examples. Arguing with, talking over, and repeatedly mocking her statements or ideas was neither proper journalism nor proper etiquette.

        Simply trying to demean or silence Ms. Warren or her position by referring to the many people who have other opinions is not good journalism. Nor, according to what I understand about Planet Money’s purpose, should Adam be advocating and promoting his perspective (which was only his agreement with all the experts he referred to) at the expense of a thoughtful look at – and evaluation of – the topic his guest was invited to explain and discuss, slowly.

        And his followup “apology” seemed to be one last way he could take jabs at Ms. Warren without her being able to offer a similar evaluation of the original interview.

  18. twophrasebark says:

    “I think we put aside your pet issues”

    “But you are not in the mainstream of views on this issue. You are not”

    All of his arguments are authoritarian, ad hominem and then finally “everyone else says so.” He has absolutely nothing to say on the subject and has no facts to present.


    • Trai_Dep says:

      @twophrasebark: Especially when “pet issues” is code for, “let’s not look at the problem holistically”. And “mainstream view” is code for “the same people who either gleefully charged us full ahead into this mess, or sat on their hands during the run-up”.
      Which… Grr…

  19. trujunglist says:

    Just from the transcript, Davidson is both incredibly rude and incredibly disingenuous at the same time. He can’t find one person that agrees with Ms. Warren? I honestly can’t find a whole lot of people that disagree with her. I think the above commenter was right: Davidson went into this interview with guns blazing and left objectivity at the door, which was his job. You can’t laugh at someone making a serious point during a serious interview and expect your opinion to matter at all. You’ve lost integrity by bringing your own pet issues into it.
    He absolutely owes her an apology, and after that, a reevaluation of who he is and the issues at hand.

  20. brettt says:

    My main issue with this exchange is that Davidson used sleazy debate tactics. You can ignore his tone, snickers, and interruptions, and still see how flimsy and antagonistic he is. Instead of debating the merit of the issue, he continually argued that Warren was in the minority, nobody agrees with her, and she is narrow/not mainstream. He kept repeating that “the real view is this” and calling her position a personal one. It sounded very 7th-grade-debate-club.

    And thank god she isn’t in the majority if that’s even the case, because clearly the majority POV led to a recession/bank meltdown/mortgage crisis/credit crisis/armageddon.

  21. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Well, if Americans can’t pay their bills then we can just keep giving the banks government money. Duh.

  22. JulesWinnfield says:

    She was one of my favorite guests EVER on The Daily Show

  23. Anonymous says:

    It seems that a lot of the folks commenting are basing their opinion on Adam Davidson only on this interview. As a long time listener of Planet Money, Adam is an awesome guy and does a great job of explaining issues while keeping it entertaining.

    What I understand to be his point is that there is a problem with Ms. Warren trying to solve a greater problem when her position involves a very narrow focus of bailing out the banks. The “how” has already been decided for her in the form of TARP. She is in charge of administering the program, not defining it.

    That being said, I totally agree with her. The American family is the one that is suffering the most. TARP and everything else involved in the “bailout” that was voted on last year is very flawed and we all know damn well the people voting on it had no way of knowing everything that was in there. In my eyes, she’s piloting a sinking ship.

  24. dlynch says:

    elizabeth warren is one of the smartest cookies out there. we are extremely lucky to have her as a voice that folks are listening to.

  25. jdmba says:

    Slightly off topic, but I had Ms. Warren as my instructor in a law school contracts class many years ago. Day in, Day out. She is brilliant, full stop.

  26. Lee Meade says:

    Have been listening to this NPR podcast since it began airing last fall. Davidson has revealed himself to be jerk of the first order. NPR needs to remove him from the program before he damages the credibility of this program entirely. Even his apology was snarky and less than heartfelt. That anyone who’s covered this issue from the beginning (that his job!) would side with banks and financial institutions is beyond belief. Elizabeth Warren has been warning about the behavior of the bankers for years, does she she have an agenda? Why yes! And if the people making our laws in D.C. had listened maybe some of this disaster could have been avoided.

  27. Steven Urich says:

    Ummmm…let’s see. Many smart people (Brad DeLong, Paul Krugman, Baseline Scenario and others) have said this recession is caused by a lack of demand. People realized (finally) they had no real savings, couldn’t keep living high on the hog and (finally) stopped buying everything in sight. Once that happened (along with people not being able to pay off ANY debt) the whole thing blew up.

    So, if there’s a lack of consumer demand and banks aren’t getting their loans paid back, how can anything be fixed unless the American family is able to 1) pay off that debt and 2) buy something?

    She’s making essentially the same argument as everyone else, just from a slightly different perspective. It seems to me that Mr. Davidson was just wrong on this one.

  28. Bs Baldwin says:

    This recent crisis is beyond bad loans that were made. What is causing this crisis are mortgage backed securities that were never worth what they were sold for, the swaps market that aig and lehman brothers had a majority stake in and went sour, too much credit that was available.

  29. frodolives35 says:

    We have to much debt. In truth banks are not the engine that runs our world but the parasites who suck the blood from our honest toil.

  30. BStu says:

    I don’t think its at all inappropriate for a reporter to challenge an interview subject. Even though I agree with Warren, I think tough questioning can be a good thing as it prompts a strong defense of one’s position. The problem, though, is that it always seems like tough questions are directed at progressive voices alone, and further that “tough” gets interpreted as beligerant and belittling. Davidson was completely out of line to be so dismissive of Warren. He’s not challenging her to defend herself. He’s mocking her. Pulling that, “let me make you more angry” and “you’re not in the mainstream” business. Telling her she’s out of the mainstream isn’t a tough question. Its a framing tactic used by a partisan, and a deeply mean-spirited one at that. Davidson clearly wasn’t trying to be objective, but by trotting that out, he’s not trying to be even minimally respectful either.

  31. Michael Salazar says:

    I gave up on Planet Money soon after witnessing how for months they sucked up to Libertarian loud-mouth Mark Cuban (owner of Dallas Mavericks), but dropped him like a bad habit when the SEC came after him on charges of insider trading.

  32. charmaniac says:

    Trained lawyer vs. kid journalist, its no surprise who won that battle.

  33. Bathmat says:

    I saw Ms. Warren on the Daily Show and was very impressed by her clarity of thought, her ease at conveying information, and her competence. I can’t believe that someone with a third of the training she has can’t debate the topic nearly as well.


  34. psyop63b says:

    I’ve read The Two Income Trap, and felt vindicated. Much of what Professor Warren and her daughter wrote resonated with my intuitions of how the “bidding war” for housing has effectively made every American family housepoor.

  35. halloweenjack, King of the Wild Frontier says:

    I, for one, would like to thank Adam Davidson for helping me feel better about not ponying up during the last public radio pledge drive.

  36. lunas says:

    I used to listen to Planet Money a lot. I stopped listening in disgust after this episode.

  37. meechybee says:

    Love Professor Warren — she’s the real thing. If you’re not familiar with her, check out this great Frontline documentary on the credit card:


  38. Anonymous says:

    Davidson obviously thinks very, very highly of himself yet is simultaneously horrifically fearful that his strong biases and oversimplified views will be exposed. It’s hard to imagine any other reason for his vile, arrogant, condescending, anti-journalistic attacks on Warren, who is far more qualified than Davidson to opine on these topics. Despite all that, she was extraordinarily gracious to him. To top it off, he lashed back at her with a “pretend apology” that threw several more wholly unjustified jabs at her. NPR is making an atrocious human resources decision by failing to fire this pretend journalist attack dog.