American Public Media’s “Marketplace” has pitted former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and former George W. Bush staffer David Frum against one another on business issues of the day, with Reich representing the left side of the spectrum and Frum the right. However, Frum acknowledged critics from the right who believe he’s drifted away from that end on many issues and has exited the program.
He said that on many issues he has no problem representing the consensus conservative view, but that is not the case on others.
He listed examples of both in a farewell blog, saying, “So long as the topic is ‘green jobs’ or NLRB regulations or immigration, my thinking aligns reasonably congruently with the current conservative consensus. But on the issues that today most passionately divide Americans – healthcare reform, monetary policy, social spending to aid the unemployed, and – soon – the American response to the euro crisis, I have to recognize that my views are not very representative of the conservative mainstream.”
He concluded, “If I can’t or won’t do that job, then I should make way for somebody who can and will. Accordingly, I have resigned my role on the Marketplace program, nominating potential replacements from closer to the present GOP consensus. I may not agree with that consensus, but I cannot deny its existence and importance.”
His partner, Reich – the pair alternate broadcasts on Wednesdays – said he respected Frum’s decision but questioned the need for it. He said that even though he is there to represent the left, he represents Robert Reich, not liberals or Democrats; and suggested that nowhere is it written that Frum has an obligation to represent conservatives or Republicans rather than representing Frum.
“The American public doesn’t want or need to hear ‘representatives’ from the so-called right or left,” Said Reich in a blog post of his own that appeared on Huffington Post. “It wants insight into what’s best for America. Yet over and over again — on the radio, on TV, in print, in the blogosphere, and all over Washington — political ideology is substituting for thought. Politicians take oaths and sign pledges. Special-interest groups abide by litmus tests and ideological labels. The media is either assertively liberal or conservative. Pundits are either on the left or the right.”
Reich concluded, “David Frum’s voice will be sorely missed. Yet I understand his dilemma. At the start of his interview on ‘Marketplace’ explaining his decision to leave the program, he was introduced this way: ‘David Frum has been a regular commentator for this program for years, offering the voice of the political right against Robert Reich and the views of the political left.’ That introduction illustrates the problem.”