The background for the spike has been all over NPR as well as other national outlets: In an interview with Kelly, co-host of “All Things Considered," Pompeo bridled at questions about Ukraine, suggesting that they were off limits under the conditions of the interview. Kelly clarified that she’d cleared them with his staffers. After the interview concluded, Pompeo leaned in and glared at Kelly, who was later invited into his private room. There, Pompeo berated her and then demanded that she point to Ukraine on an unmarked map.
The nastiness only continued from there: with Pompeo releasing a statement attempting to trash Kelly’s good name; with President Trump all but congratulating Pompeo for his abuse in a White House event; and with the State Department removing Michele Kelemen, an NPR correspondent, from an overseas trip.
This is no feud, which requires two warring parties; it’s a one-sided affront to the First Amendment. It’s so over the top, too, that late-night hosts have taken to riding Pompeo. “So Pompeo refused to talk about anything besides Iran. Does he think the name of the show is ‘One Thing Considered’?” comedian Stephen Colbert said.
Debbie Hiott, general manager for NPR station KUT in Austin, tells the Erik Wemple Blog that she attributes 100 donations in recent days to the Kelly situation. Most of them, she says, have made reference to Kelly. Of the 124 gifts that the station has received since Friday, nearly half are from first-time givers. The activity comes during a “lull” in fundraising activity, considering that NPR stations commonly do fundraising drives in the spring, fall and year’s end. “It is really gratifying to hear people being supportive of the reporting that journalists are doing in general, because it’s been a tough time for journalists the past few years,” says Hiott, who spent nearly three decades at the Austin-American Statesman before joining KUT.
Here’s a look at comments that accompanied donations to KUT:
I’m embarrassed to admit that I am donating because of [late-night host] Seth Meyers’ segment about the interview Mary Louise Kelly did with Pompeo. (And I heard that interview when it was aired... Doh!). Anyway, hope you can use my meager donation to keep playing NPR.I’ve already renewed our KUT membership, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s inexcusable treatment of NPR reporters Mary Louise Kelly and Michele Kelemen prompts me to make an additional small gift to support KUT, NPR and high-quality reporting. It’s that “democracy dies in darkness,” and NPR is a bright light.I get my news every morning from NPR, but was prompted by interview of Pompeo by Mary Louise Kelly to add to my ongoing support. NPR is the best way to get information without either la left or right bias. Thanks for everything you all do.I am thankful for the brave reporting done by Mary Louise Kelly this past week in regards to Secretary Pompeo. This incident has made me realize more than ever how important it is to keep this great service alive.Thanks to Mary Louise Kelly for her work on the interview with Pompeo. We appreciate her truthful reporting.An extra $10 for Mary Louise Kelly :)I’m already a sustaining member, but I wanted to give a little extra in support of Mary Louise Kelly. She’s an amazing person and journalist. No one has the right to speak to her as Pompeo did, nor attempt to demean her. My vote, and giving you a little extra, is the best way I can think of to support her.Love NPR and KUT programs and want to acknowledge Mary Louise Kelly’s great interview with Sec State Pompeo. Keep asking the hard questions! Thank you to all NPR employees.I love the objective, fact-based reporting coming from NPR and KUT. I make this donation counting on you guys to be great example of journalistic excellency and integrity.I would like to double my monthly pledge to KUT and NPR as a token of my ongoing appreciation for excellent journalism, especially in this hostile climate of the current administration against the treasure that is public radio.I listen to KUT all the time. Donating in support of your local journalism as well as NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly’s fair and tough questioning of government officials of all political parties.C/O Mike Pompeo
“Mary Louise Kelly!!” reads the note attached to a donation that landed in the inbox of NPR station WBHM in Birmingham, Ala. Another one: “I’m an independent. My parents are Republicans. We’ve always supported NPR and I want to show that support especially now.”
Chuck Holmes, the executive director at WBHM, tells the Erik Wemple Blog that the station — with a news staff of seven — got a dozen donations on Sunday, just as the news of Kelly’s interview was becoming a national thing. “It’s very rare for us to get a dozen donations on a Sunday. We knew this was extraordinary,” says Holmes.
Holmes, however, isn’t precisely rejoicing over the circumstances. “I would like listeners of any political ilk to support us. I’m glad people are donating to us, but we sort of never seek out controversy. We’re just trying to do journalism, providing a service to our community, and we hope that people appreciate it,” says Holmes, who worked in a high-level editorial position at Washington’s NPR headquarters before heading south to WBHM.
To take advantage of the surge in interest, the NPR.org has added a flashier “DONATE NOW” button on its homepage. It has also instituted something called a “modal” that pops up and asks for assistance:
The “DONATE NOW” button sends users to donation pages for their local NPR station.