Former NPR talk show host Diane Rehm honored at Franklin Pierce celebration 

  • Former NPR talk show host Diane Rehm honored during The Fitzwater Honors Ceremony at Franklin Pierce University on Thursday, April 27, 2017. (Abby / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Former NPR talk show host Diane Rehm was honored during the Fitzwater Honors Ceremony at Franklin Pierce University on Thursday. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/2/2017 6:50:04 AM

The woman who built a career off of interviews was the subject of an hour-long discussion Thursday afternoon during the Fitzwater Honors Ceremony at Franklin Pierce University.

Former National Public Radio host Diane Rehm was interviewed by two FPU seniors and Trent Spiner, executive editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader and an alumnus of the university, in front of a room full of people.

The discussion began by delving into the role of journalism in the current political climate. President Trump and many media outlets have been at odds since he announced his campaign.

Spiner said tension between administrations in power and journalists have always existed.

“This kind of friction has always existed from the Obama administration all the way back to probably the George Washington administration,” Spiner said.

Rehm agreed, but called the current climate “a brand new world.”

She said certain news organizations are being favored, while others are being left out.

Now, more than ever, she said journalists have to be hungry for information and find different ways to obtain information.

More, consumers need to work harder to uncover the truth.

“We as citizens are going to have to do our due diligence,” she said, adding that consumers need to read news from multiple sites, never taking any one article at face value no matter where it’s published.

After the ceremony, Marlin Fitzwater, who was the White House press secretary for six years under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, commented on the difficulties of the job of keeping the public informed. Fitzwater is the only press secretary who served under two separate administrations, and the second longest person who has held the position.

“Every press secretary reflects the president,” Fitzwater said. “Because you spend so much time with them, you’re so close, and you spend time studying how they think, how they act, you invariably become like them.”

Fitzwater said he thinks current Press Secretary Sean Spicer is having issues because he and President Trump aren’t personally that close.

“Sean Spicer is having problems because Trump is such a different president. And he and Spicer and he are not close, they didn’t really know each other before. Trump is also always on the attack,” Fitzwater said.

He said most press secretaries help smooth things over, but the current climate is a different game.

“My advice to [Spicer] was almost worthless because my experience was so different,” Fitzwater said.

Later on in the evening Fitzwater presented Rehm with a Fitzwater Center Medallion for leadership in public communication. Fitzwater handed Rehm the medal, instead on placing the medal over her own head. When President Obama went to place a different award on Rehm she refused and responded, “Mr. President, I have big hair.”

Spiner, who graduated from FPU in 2007, received a medallion for leadership in public communication by an alumnus during the celebration.

Amanda Horrocks, who is a senior and was one of two students who interviewed Rehm, said it was the first time she had ever interviewed anyone.

“It was an honor to interview someone a well known as Diane Rehm,” Horrocks said after the event.

She said Rehm made her feel at ease, and turned the interview from a question-and-answer session into a discussion.

Horrocks said one of her favorite moments of the interview was about Rehm’s current crusade on right-to-die laws. Rehm became an advocate after her husband John was diagnosed Parkinson’s disease. The disease progressed to a point where it was difficult for John to function. When it got to that point, John made the decision to starve himself to death over the course of nine days rather than continuing on with the disease. Rehm said the situation should have never progressed to that point, and that John should have been able to decide whether to live or not.

“This is what I’m saying and I want to make it very clear because I think I have been misunderstood in the past; if you believe God should be the only decider when you die, I support you 1,000 percent, if you believe you want every device and treatment that natural science has to offer, I support you 100 percent, and if you choose to die with medical support, I support you 1,000 percent.”

Rehm wrote of her struggles of watching her husband die in a book called “On My Own.”

The last paragraph of the book says that she doubts she’ll will ever have another relationship, although the last line reads, “but never say never.”

At the end of the program on Thursday, Rehm said she’s getting married in October.

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or

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