May 20, 2011
KUOW Has Dropped Cliff Mass

Here's his side of the story.  I'll miss his contributions.

(This will remind some of us of why NPR dropped Juan Williams.)

Posted by Jim Miller at May 20, 2011 07:32 AM | Email This
1. Jim beat me. I did an entry about Cliff Mass being fired for pushing excellence in K-12 math education on my blog Economic Freedom.

Posted by: Ron Hebron on May 20, 2011 08:32 AM
2. So typical of the Leftist bureaucracy that has infected so many formerly good institutions. And this is a great example of why the Left will lose. They've let Progressive crazies take over everywhere such that even moderate, brilliant and widely regarded voices in science like Cliff Mass are now censured if they don't tow the party line.

They are destroying themselves from within. Good riddance. The last time I donated to an NPR station was some time in the early 1990s. Since then NPR has gone off the rails and is clearly pushing their biased agenda.

Posted by: Jeff B. on May 20, 2011 08:41 AM
3. Jeff B. @2:

Try not to be a bigger moron than is necessary, will you? Actually, Cliff's strongest defenders are from what you ignorantly term "the left."

The pressure to remove Cliff came from the UW School of Education's privatizers, union-busters, and corporate takeover people, who can't stand Cliff's knowledgable criticisms of their stupid, touchie-feelie, fuzzy-math curriculum, which is being shoved down schools' throats.

If you or anybody else think the unionized teachers are in favor of this corporate math curriculum, you're way out there in la-la land.

KUOW is caving to pressure from the corporate funders of several chairs in the UW School of Education. If that's the "left," I'm Sarah Palin's bastard child.

Cliff's not your property. I and most other people you stupidly call "the left" support him.

Posted by: ivan on May 20, 2011 09:29 AM
4. Classic ivan.

You just can't say a word without an ad hominem attack can you? I support Cliff too. But the Constructivist curricula comes from left leaning Seattle education bureaucracy and from the NEA, also left leaning. And KUOW is left leaning as well. As it happens, there are often factions within every constituency. I am not at all surprised that you support Cliff because it's mostly just common sense that he is espousing. And he's got the numbers to back it up. I didn't declare him as property of any faction, those are your words and your imagination of the monolithic wingnut that you've decided you have to attack regardless of what we agree upon.

Bill Cruchon is right. You must be pretty angry and miserable often, because that's what comes across in nearly every comment you make. If what you read here drives you to that, why do you bother reading and getting yourself so worked up?

Posted by: Jeff B. on May 20, 2011 09:53 AM
5. Steve Scher says that he has posted a reply at the KUOW site.

As soon as I can find it -- probably after an early lunch, I'll put up a link to it.

Posted by: Jim Miller on May 20, 2011 10:55 AM
6. Jeff B. @4:

No, you're just factually wrong about where the curriculum comes from. It comes from "corporate." The very last place it comes from is the NEA. I am by no means miserable, but your bullshit does make me angry.

Posted by: ivan on May 20, 2011 11:00 AM
7. Here's a link to Steve Scher's side of the story.

Posted by: Jim Miller on May 20, 2011 12:29 PM
8. The NPR nazis ride again! Remember that months after Juan got canned, he had the presumed pleasure of seeing justice arrive when the woman who made needlessly demeaning comments about him then herself got canned for egregious goings-on at NPR. Likely something similar will ensure later on this one, too.

Posted by: Monterey on May 20, 2011 01:31 PM
9. The agenda of the Left: Yes to Rick Steves pushing pot use for everyone, NO to kids having decent math education.
...and they wonder why public education (and NPR) is such a mess.

Posted by: Michele on May 20, 2011 01:37 PM
10. This has the making of headline fun:
"Dropped a Mass over a Cliff"
"Dropped Cliff in a Tiff"
"Cliff's Notes erased and his Mass is Sacked"
"Mass get you're A$$ outa here"
"No Class to the way Mass is Cliffed"

The Reality is the "firing squad" goes one way and even a pot head like a Steves can hit center of mass at 10' if the gun is tagged down to a bench.

The 1st amendment was written to remind us that people will take away our free speech not that they would follow the opportunity for all to have it. Same for the rest of the constitution.
Let's not be surprised when someone is frog marched to a cliff and thrown over for not talkin' the party line and then they shove pot into our faces under the guise of 'free speech'.
They live a redefined life of excess with expectations of no consequences. Why do we even expect responsible behavior out of them? Look at ivan's post today.
Don't worry about it.
Let's divide the country and they can go for it full tilt and ask the UN to pay for it. They can execute Bush in effigy for all his war crimes and we get liberty.

Posted by: Col. Hogan on May 20, 2011 03:14 PM
11. The intellectual dishonesty on display here at KUOW, wherein a travel guy can freely discuss pot legalization while a university educator cannot discuss problems in education, simply underscores the reason that KUOW doesn't need taxpayer funding. If they want to act like this, then they can simply do it on their own nickel, which they mostly do anyway. No need to pay the last 10% of their intellectually dishonest behavior.

Posted by: Michele on May 20, 2011 04:33 PM
12. You know, I might have more sympathy, but I just can't remember you wingers getting that upset when FOX dropped Alan Colmes.

And, in fairness Michele (and, I know, that might be the only time those two words have been used together), Rick Steves would not be doing his travel show and then go off on pot legalization. He at least keeps them separate. And no one thinks he has anything to do with the news division.

Posted by: JDB on May 20, 2011 05:34 PM
13. Follow Cliff on Twitter @CliffMass. 1649 followers as of now.

Posted by: Matt M. on May 20, 2011 07:26 PM
14. NPR didn't want commentary during a segment meant to be news. Had he stuck to being informative, and educational, I'm betting he would still be there.

But Cliff Mass has a huge ego. He is convinced he is smarter than everyone else on the planet.

So, when asked to not veer into commentary, when there is no opportunity for the station to counter it with other viewpoints, Mass has a temper tantrum. He gets fired.

I failed to see the problem. If Cliff thinks Cliff is the smartest thing on earth, he can start his own radio show and listen to himself 24/7.

Posted by: janet s on May 20, 2011 07:35 PM
15. What is frustrating is that I agree that the Times wrote a story about the UW that was a piece of garbage. They had their view that top students were getting rejected, and did nothing to verify if the it was true. Their subject, a valedictorian from Chief Sealth, didn't mention his SAT scores or any other proof that he was just the product of a school with easy grading.

That said, why does Mass think he has the right to spout unchallenged commentary? If he wants to give his opinions, he should welcome a fair discussion.

But that isn't what he was interested in. He wanted his soap box.

Posted by: janet s on May 20, 2011 08:11 PM
16. Could a new minority shareholder of NPR - George Soros have something to do with NPR's apparent greater intolerance ? Alot of the bruhaha seemed to stem for Dr. Mass being critical of the way math is being taught in Seattle schools, although I am sure there were other issues. Too bad that the liberal elites failed to acknowledge his salient message - seems like they (the WEA rank and file) lack compassion and common sense for education of tomorrow's work force - sad and true.

Unfortunately, I did not have much of chance to hear him on KUOW, but I like his expertise on the weather and his blog is very informative. Enuf said.

Posted by: KDS on May 20, 2011 09:40 PM

"Alan Colmes joined FOX News Channel in 1996. He served as the liberal counterpart and co-host of "Hannity & Colmes," a one-hour debate-driven talk show focusing on controversial newsmakers and issues of the day.

After a string of successful radio shows on WNBC, WABC and WMCA in New York, Colmes gained a reputation as a hard-hitting liberal known for his electric commentary on the American agenda. He has interviewed many key political figures, which include Former President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Steve Forbes, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Ralph Nader and Ken Starr.

Colmes hosted his own self-titled late night radio talk show on WEVD-AM. After penetrating the Boston market with a hit radio show on WZLX, Colmes went from major market success to national talk radio prominence in 1990 with his fast-paced and informative afternoon news-driven show, which aired daily on hundreds of affiliates nationwide. Most recently, he returned to radio as host of a news-driven late-night talk show "The Alan Colmes Show," which is syndicated by the FOX News Channel.

Read more:"


Posted by: Eyago on May 20, 2011 10:06 PM
18. Most teachers do not understand math. So, they prefer the fuzzy variety, where you explore and discover.

But you don't convince this group that they need to change by insulting them and threatening them. The way to get things changed is to appeal to the parents, and bring change through acceptance. It works. There is no need to insult teachers. It just makes them defensive, and you lose them.

Just because you are right doesn't mean you get your way.

Posted by: janet s on May 20, 2011 10:10 PM
19. @Janet S
"why does Mass think he has the right to spout unchallenged commentary?"

The answer was in the linked blog. NPR/KUOW personalities regularly provide unchallenged commentary on a variety of issues. Travel Agent Rick Steves and is campaign to legalize pot was sited as a most apt example.

He also has the right as the only scientist on the KUOW staff. One of the few people in that building who have the faintest clue about math or science. Probably the most qualified person at KUOW to discuss such issues. So yeah, if he sees a bad science story from non-scientists (Joni Balter as a named example in the blog), then he really ought to provide a more informed perspective than is normally heard on that channel.

Posted by: Hairy Buddah on May 20, 2011 10:12 PM
20. @Janet S
"why does Mass think he has the right to spout unchallenged commentary?"

The answer was in the linked blog. NPR/KUOW personalities regularly provide unchallenged commentary on a variety of issues. Travel Agent Rick Steves and is campaign to legalize pot was sited as a most apt example.

He also has the right as the only scientist on the KUOW staff. One of the few people in that building who have the faintest clue about math or science. Probably the most qualified person at KUOW to discuss such issues. So yeah, if he sees a bad science story from non-scientists (Joni Balter as a named example in the blog), then he really ought to provide a more informed perspective than is normally heard on that channel.

Posted by: Hairy Buddah on May 20, 2011 10:12 PM
21. A 30 tonne boulder is likely going to vaporize and turn into dust upon impact, and probably won;t reach the bottom of the canyon in large peices.

Posted by: Vistaprint Coupons on May 20, 2011 11:58 PM
22. "If you or anybody else think the unionized teachers are in favor of this corporate math curriculum, you're way out there in la-la land."

On what planet do "corporate" people want graduates who cannot perform basic math because teachers were worried about hurting their feelings?

Or is your assertion that there is some conspiracy behind this? Some company selling textbooks, maybe? Which company?

Posted by: jvon on May 21, 2011 03:03 AM
23. Silencing Cliff Mass is just the latest atrocity of an NPR affiliate. The only way to bring some sanity to NPR and PBS broadcasting is to end federal funding to the Corp for Public Broadcasting and all affiliated organizations and stations.

Posted by: Paddy on May 21, 2011 11:12 AM
24. Just because you are right doesn't mean you get your way.

Posted by janet s at May 20, 2011 10:10 PM

Sidebar -What you said speaks volumes about the Republican party and the conservative movement. The Republican party has an uphill task of convincing the masses that runs counter to the media propaganda machine about the Ryan budget plan, then also about what we replace Obamacare with. Both tasks cannot be overestimated. The GOP candidate for president must get out in front of those effectively or else it could well be "Four more years".

Just telling it like it is.

Posted by: KDS on May 21, 2011 11:44 AM
25. The only opinions tolerated on NPR, local and nationally, are of the Nina Totenberg-variety.

Posted by: Attila on May 21, 2011 12:47 PM
26. ivan is obviously confused between who creates the curricula and who approves the curricula. In the same way that many are confused by red light cam companies who abuse bureaucracies for profit. Sure these corporations are producing crappy products, but the blame for adopting them lies on the shoulders of our local governments which in Western WA are almost exclusively Democrat controlled. And we all know which party teacher union dues go to support. Saying that teachers want good curricula is like saying the drivers want reasonable road rules that balance safety with throughput. In both cases the problem is Left leaning government.

As usual ivan shows he is immature and incapable of having a discussion without descending to a spittle induced rage at anyone who dares question the WA Democrat agenda.

Posted by: Jeff B. on May 21, 2011 01:46 PM
27. The way KUOW treated Mass is so typical of how leftists shut people up. They simply are not nice people, as they've once again demonstrated. The left has websites such as Media Matters, (founded by Hillary Clinton and other leftists, by the way), that actively tries to shut up Rush Limbaugh, among other conservatives. These horrid people sit around and monitor conservatives and try to nail them. Disgusting. It's how leftists have behaved since the days of Lenin.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on May 21, 2011 03:08 PM
28. @27 Bill - what I've found about left-wingers is that they tend to exist inside a rigid intellectual bubble where nobody challenges them. As soon as they are challenged, they go crazy.

Posted by: Crusader on May 22, 2011 12:35 AM
29. Leftist principles run counter to logic, reason and human nature. Collectivism/statism has failed miserably wherever/whenever it has been attempted, from socialist Europe to Communist Russia. Anyone with a brain realizes this, so America's leftists persist in silencing opposition by the same methods used by Bolsheviks in 1917; that is to:

yell louder as if they were greater in number
use foolish masses and useful idiots to advance their cause
spread rumors and falsehoods to marginalize opponents
employ intimidating tactics
lie regarding their ultimate intentions
threaten violence and then follow through if necessary

Posted by: Saltherring on May 22, 2011 07:35 AM
30. Saltherring, you could not have done a better job of hitting the nail on the head. Leftists live in enclaves where they only know other leftists. They think the entire country agrees with them. Yelling louder has always been their specialty, as well as making silly looking puppets.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on May 22, 2011 11:25 AM
31. I really don't understand all the fuss on this one. Much of the discussion here seems to skirt the essential issue at hand.

Mass was a regular guest on a talk show segment that was intended by the producers to focus specifically on weather-related topics. By his own admission, the parameters of his participation were clearly spelled to him out by the producers of the segment.

Mass did not agree with those parameters, and began venturing into areas not directly related to the topic he was invited to discuss. As such, the producers decided to not invite him back, and instead find a guest who would stick to the topic. Sounds reasonable to me. There are bloggers on this site who routinely request that participants stick to the topic at hand - or risk having their comment removed.

If KUOW has segments specifically designed to address math curriculum, UW admission policies or other matters, perhaps Mass could ask to be invited as guest on those segments.

What if a local chef was a regular guest to for a cooking segment, but instead decided to pop off about the Viaduct? Or the gardening expert spent his/her segment talking about bicycle policy? What's the point of having a "weather" segment if the guest is unwilling to discuss weather?

The issue of Rick Steves discussing marijuana legalization has been brought up. And while it seems to be a fair point, and my indicate a double standard, it may be that Rick Steves has an entirely different arrangement with the producers of his segment. Nobody has suggested there is evidence that the producers have repeatedly told Steves to stick to travel topics, and he has defied them. They may have an agreement with Steves allowing him to venture into other topical areas. That's their prerogative as producers. It's their show.

And Mass wasn't a staffer, or being paid to participate. He was simply an invited guest.

I don't really see any scandal here.

Posted by: afseattle on May 22, 2011 12:15 PM
32. Nah, they let him go because he criticized the public education establishment, which is run by liberals. Mass accused them of doing a poor job. Liberals don't like anyone to point out their failures.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on May 22, 2011 01:39 PM
33. Gee, afseattle...You got to realize that the Liberal hierarchy would like very much to dumb down society as much as they can by having marijuana legalization. Whether, it was off topic for Rick Steves or not, it is part of the overall Liberal agenda to have as many minions as possible wandering around in a mental fog. The more dumb downed a society is, the easier they are led by the enslavers of this World.

Bottom Line: Liberals represent Slavery, where as, Conservatives represent Liberty.

Posted by: Daniel on May 22, 2011 03:17 PM
34. afseattle - Do you actually LISTEN to KUOW? I do. Segments regularly include snarky little unrelated comments on progressive issues. The Rick Steves example was just low hanging fruit. Cliff's problem was not occasional off topic comments. It was challenging the progressive orthodoxy of the inherent infallibility of public schools and the teachers' unions. Cliff was one of the few people in the building with a hard science education. I know those people. I used to maintain the phone system there.

The big deal isn't one contributor losing a gig. The big deal is the further evidence of hypocritical intolerance practiced by those who claim they are all about tolerance and inclusion.


Posted by: Hairy Buddah on May 22, 2011 06:02 PM
35. There's a reason I've shut my old leftist friends out of my life, (and they've shut me out). They act like snotty 7th graders when you attempt to have a coherent, adult, political discussion with them. Who the heck needs that? The internet has made it much easier for them to be insulting, and say things they'd never say if they were seated next to me at a bar. Are leftists tolerant, inclusive people? Not in my experience.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on May 22, 2011 08:19 PM
36. I don't disagree that there is a left-wing political agenda that runs through KUOW programming. I find the attitudes and snarky comments from the on-air staff to be annoying. So much so that I've permanently switched to another station in the morning.

However, in this instance, Cliff Mass himself was pretty clear that he was invited to discuss a very specific topic and instead decided to veer off into other topics. I read his blog post, and that of Steve Scher. Mass admitted that the producers repeatedly asked him to stay on topic, and he flatly refused. Now he seems to be having a tantrum.

I have no doubt he's a very smart guy, and probably has interesting and insightful things to say about a wide range of topics. But in this case, he was being invited to discuss the weather - not challenge "progressive orthodoxy" with regard to math education. He said he didn't want to discuss the weather. They said they'd find someone who does. They may very well by intolerant and non-inclusive. But regardless of their politics, I can't really find fault with their decision on this.

I would imagine if a progressive liberal "hijacked" this thread and started posting comments about waterboarding, or health care, or the minimum wage, it would be completely appropriate to ask them to stay on topic. And if it continued, remove their posts. I wouldn't think they were having their opinions shut down. It's just that this isn't the thread for that discussion.

Posted by: afseattle on May 22, 2011 11:15 PM
37. afseattle,

You are simply uninformed. Cliff Mass has not talked about math on KUOW since he has asked not to by Steve Scher. What got him in to trouble was recently defending the UW regarding admissions. So in defending the UW, KUOW decided to end Cliff Mass' weather segment. It was very brief and in context, but KUOW was clearly looking for a gotcha moment to get rid of Mass.

Posted by: Jeff B. on May 23, 2011 09:10 AM
38. Jeff@37, Mass's comments were not "very brief and in context". He spoke that day for 127 seconds about weather and 116 seconds about UW admissions, so the off-topic comments made up nearly half of his airtime that day. And the context -- the topic of his segment, the way he was introducted, etc. -- was weather.

In Mass's defense, 33 of those 116 seconds were in response to a followup question by Steve Scher, and the program had, outside of the weather segment, discussed UW admissions the previous week. Also, his comments were at least as insightful as many others on the program. But topics on radio (and TV, newspapers, etc.) are generally assigned by the producer and/or editor, not chosen unilaterally by the guest/reporter. The weatherperson talks about weather, the sportsperson talks about sports, the news reporter reports, the traffic reporter covers traffic, and the commentator opines.

I wish KUOW and Mass had worked this out without Mass being fired. Maybe Scher could have just let this one slide. But how much control should Mass get just because he's an insightful scientist? What if he wanted to use half his segment every week to discuss evolution or politics or religion?

Posted by: Bruce on May 23, 2011 11:09 AM
39. It would have spoken more for KUOW if Scher would have been able to work out things with Dr. Mass instead of taking the reactionary approach and fired him. We don't know how much pressure on Scher came from above though..

Posted by: KDS on May 23, 2011 01:04 PM
40. Bruce,

We agree. I could care less what he is talking about. The point is that he has a lot of insightful stuff to say and KUOW doesn't recognize a valuable asset when they see one. I agree with many other analysts on this one. It appears like so many other media outlets, the show has gone to the heads of Katy and Steve. They think it's about them in a world where we can get our news and opinion a-la-carte from the Internet. Fire the expensive talking heads and lets have more great analysis from people like Cliff Mass who have some convictions.

But there's no doubt that the "journalist" mindset comes from the left and an elitist left leaning view. Thats why we see such left leaning bias roundly from almost all media outlets, save for talk radio and Fox. I wouldn't have a problem with that bias if they didn't purport to be so objective. If they had the balls to just come out and admit that they don't like Cliff's challenges, even though they are fine with other challenges with which they agree, it would be one thing. But to hide behind the semantics in selective cases is just cowardly. Especially when these so called journalists pretends to be so unbiased and so free on conviction.

It's exactly this situation here where the defense from you and people like Scher is that Cliff wasn't sticking to the exact topic at hand or whatever semantic argument, when for other on-air personalities, or the hosts themselves this doesn't seem to be a problem at all. They decided they didn't like Cliff's ideas and they were going to do him in for speaking outside of their approved topics.

Yep it's their show, and they can do what they want. But, it's selective in their own way their conviction, and it is obvious and they are rightly being called out from all sides. Which is why the Stranger poll shows that mostly people think that Scher should be fired and not Mass.

Posted by: Jeff B. on May 23, 2011 01:23 PM
41. @Jeff B #37; KUOW, was just looking for a "gotcha moment" to axe Mass. Not much different than the "gotcha moment" the Seattle School District poobahs used to get rid of Maria Goodloe Johnson. If you don't play ball with liberals, this is what happens. Particularly in a liberal enclave such as Seattle.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on May 23, 2011 02:55 PM
42. Bill@41, if "KUOW was just looking for a gotcha moment to axe Mass", why didn't they just cancel the weather segment without a fuss long ago and say they'd decided to stop having a weather report? It's not like they had a contract with Mass or were paying him anything.

And are you saying the school board should have kept Maria Goodloe-Johnson despite the fraud and quasi-cover-up? Gosh, I can just imagine what you would have said about the liberal school board if they'd done that.

Not everything that "horrid leftists" do is a conspiracy, Bill.

Posted by: Bruce on May 23, 2011 03:13 PM
43. He was let go for cause. Warned several times about straying off the weather course. Nothing to see here.

Posted by: Johnny Sombrerro on May 23, 2011 05:18 PM
44. Why are you even listening to KUOW to begin with?

Sound Politics is where the RINOS come to wallow.

Posted by: CnR on May 23, 2011 08:44 PM
45. Hello. What better or ?

Posted by: mymnswiny on May 23, 2011 09:53 PM
46. @ Bruce. The Seattle School District got rid of Maria Goodloe Johnson because she closed schools, got rid of bussing, and proposed to hold teachers accountable for performance. I would not call it a "conspiracy". I'd call it not playing ball with Seattle liberals. They were just waiting for the opportunity to give her the axe. If you remember, she received a vote of non-confidence months before she was canned.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on May 25, 2011 01:22 PM
47. So Bill, do you think the school board should have kept Maria Goodloe-Johnson despite the fraud and quasi-cover-up?

Posted by: Bruce on May 25, 2011 03:13 PM
48. As I said above Bruce, Goodloe-Johnson was sacked because she challenged the education establishment's status quo. So did Cliff Mass. Liberals in Seattle don't like having their orthodoxy challenged. Their intolerance is what this is really about.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on May 25, 2011 04:42 PM
49. Cliff Mass was warned.

Posted by: Johnny Sombrerro on May 26, 2011 09:35 PM
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