Kim Kardashian appeared on the NPR game show Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me last week to discuss her second pregnancy, her new selfie book and her husband Kanye West’s recent basketball birthday party at Staples Center – and NPR listeners are not happy.
NPR Ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen says she has gotten several hundred complaints from loyal NPR listeners who are threatening to pull donations because Kardashian appeared on the program.
“I have enjoyed your show for years,” wrote one Brianna Frazier, “but I found the inclusion of Kim Kardashian so misguided and offensive, I fear I will never be able to listen again (hyperbolic, yes, but vapid, talentless, and shallow individuals who have not earned fame or fortune through an ounce of hard work have no place on a show of such caliber).”
“Everyone is allowed one mulligan, and you’ve just had yours,” wrote John Moore of Decatur, Georgia.
One listener said she was “seriously considering” dropping her membership: “I thought NPR had a certain class/values and it looks like we might be heading in another direction that I’m not willing to go with you. Just thought I’d give you a heads up. Have a sparkling day!”
Jensen, for her part, says she does not understand the criticism. Jensen called Wait Wait “a humor show and an equal opportunity offender.”
“I’m in the camp of those who have avoided her other ubiquitous media projects and appearances, so I can’t say I’m familiar with her normal demeanor,” Jensen writes. “But I was far from offended by her presence on an NPR show. It was only eleven minutes, after all, and now maybe I won’t be so lost at the next dinner party when the topic of Kardashian-mania comes up.”
Writing about the fallout, KQED’s Emmanuel Hapsis seemingly backed up Jensen’s position, arguing that “whether we like it or not,” Kardashian is a part of our popular culture:
“I went to grad school. My favorite writer is an experimental classicist. I’ve read Ulysses in its entirety. And I also know all the names of the Kardashians and why they’re mad at each other. Learning that information didn’t cancel out my degrees or any of my brain cells. Neither did listening to this radio segment. Kim Kardashian is a part of our culture, whether we like it or not. She doesn’t have the power to destroy you or your favorite public radio show. But she could probably school some of us on how to lighten up.”
Still, the damage is seemingly done.
“I recently gave a small gift to my local NPR station,” wrote one Kerry Castano of Burlington, Vermont. “Had I heard your Saturday show before I made my gift, I wouldn’t have donated. The Kardashians represent much of what is wrong with America today – and I listen to NPR to get AWAY from Kardashian-like garbage.”