Last weekend’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” had a few too many pope jokes for some listeners — there were references to “Frosted Mini Popes,” pope jeans (“Nothing gets between me and my Benedicts”), and pope perfume (“I’m wearing Pope”). NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos says listeners were most offended by host Peter Sagal jokingly calling the pope a “gay icon.” The ombud writes:
I am Catholic and personally would not be offended if the pope were called gay, much less a gay icon. …
I certainly believe that there was no ill intention, and hope that even listeners who were offended accept that. Other religions have been spoofed on NPR as well.
I asked Sagal for a comment. He writes:
I certainly have no objection to or argument with our ombudsman’s reasoning or conclusions. Seems very fair minded to me.
One point he didn’t raise — one of the reasons that we got, as he says, about a 100 emails in complain — and that’s out of more than 3 million weekly listeners — is because of this:
I’m sure many of those who wrote in were our actual listeners and were genuinely offended, but we’ve noticed that we get an sharp uptick of angry emails whenever one of the media-watch blogs complains about us, as you’d expect.