Planet Money’s Adam Davidson under fire for losing his cool

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“It’s important for journalists to treat whomever they are interviewing with respect — and to keep their opinions to themselves,” writes NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard in her latest column. But Adam Davidson, the lead correspondent for Planet Money, “did neither” when he interviewed Elizabeth Warren about her watchdog role for the Troubled Assets Relief program, Shepard concludes. Davidson’s May 6 interview with Warren, who chairs the congressional oversight panel of TARP, was “really cringeworth stuff,” the Columbia Journalism Review‘s Ryan Chittum wrote on May 14. In Shepard’s June 1 response to complaints about the piece, NPR News Chief Ellen Weiss says the interview was “unsuccessful from the start.” “It was confrontational without being illuminating,” adds Uri Berliner, the deputy national editor working with the Planet Money team. “The fight was over an incredibly nuanced issue,” Davidson tells Shepard. “I did an awful job of conveying what the issue was by losing my cool and failing to be precise.” What went wrong? Davidson didn’t have time to adequately prepare for the interview because he had just returned from a fundraising trip for NPR, Shepard reveals, and the Planet Money podcast on which the interview was presented isn’t produced with the same editorial rigor of an NPR news program. Davidson discusses the fight with Alex Blumberg, his friend and collaborator in creating Planet Money. In a recent interview with Current, Davidson acknowedged that the Planet Money team was “stretched too thin” in producing multi-platform economics coverage.