Kim Kardashian was invited to appear on NPR last Saturday, and some listeners weren’t happy. The reality show icon was the subject of approximately 11 minutes of NPR airtime as part of the show Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me. Monday morning, NPR ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen received hundreds of emails from listeners upset at Kardashian’s interview.
During her appearance, which E! Online called “pretty harmless,” Kardashian promoted her book of selfies and answered a multiple-choice quiz about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The transcript and recording of the show document Kim’s description of her Staples Center birthday party for husband Kanye and response to some rumors about her unborn baby.
Jensen said NPR audience members threatened to cancel their donations. She wrote that she did not understand the strong reaction.
“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… 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.”
Elizabeth Jensen also provided some insight as to how Kim Kardashian approaches her media appearances. She implied that the celebrity, who is part of a family ostensibly known for being open about all of its secrets, actually tightly controls her public image. Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me executive producer Michael Danforth said Kardashian would not stray off message.
“One thing we’ve learned is she’s got a very polished and easy public persona.”
Danforth also did not foresee the negative reaction, telling Jensen the show always tries to book well-known guests.
Emmanuel Hapsis wrote on KQED that as much as Kardashian has a controlled public image, those who objected to her NPR appearance similarly are putting on a false front about who they really are.
“[T]he people leaving these incensed comments or posting about how they wish Kim would just go away on their Facebook pages are also maintaining some idea of themselves that they want to project or would like to believe about themselves. Kim puts beauty first, others lead with intelligence, but, in the end, it’s ultimately the same thing: a facade.”
[Kim Kardashian West Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images Entertainment]