Giving Praise Where Praise is Due: Jim Braude and the WGBH Show Greater Boston

Jim BraudeI suppose a fair amount of people in the Boston area know who Jim Braude is. I recall him from way back when he was an advocate of more taxes. He routinely debated a woman who fought for less taxes. Then he moved over to New England Cable News where I never watched him; and he also had a radio show with another woman which I rarely, almost never, listened to. It was not that I had a particular dislike or desire to avoid the guy it was because as you may know I’m not a big television watcher nor am I interested in the radio opinionates.

One TV program that I watched more than any other was what used to be called the MacNeil and Lehrer report on PBS hosted by Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil but is now called the PBS Newshour and is hosted by Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff. It sometimes presents a good interview with a noteworthy person although the questions are often softballs that are routinely hit out of the park. That program was followed for many years by the Emily Rooney show. She too would have some guests that were worth listening to but she didn’t have the instincts to go in for the kill when the person ducked and dodged her questions.

Recently Emily retired and after a nationwide search for her replacement he was found sitting the WGBH studio. It was announced last January that Jim Braude would be taking her place.  As I said I didn’t know much about the guy but knew from the little I did know that he was more of a progressive than anything else and that was confirmed by his being hired to host a PBS program. I was less than enthused.

It’s not that I have anything against progressives since some of their ideas are good; it is just that my experience with them is that they don’t like associating with people with contrary opinions. So I expected Jim Braude would have on his show people who sang the same tune he did and his program would be like listening to a choir of sopranos. I expected there would be few other voices so it would be one big turnoff.

As things turned out, I would watch Ifill and Woodruff’s news and sometimes not turn the television off so that I would be watching Jim. He has his panels that consist of liberals spouting liberal ideas and he has his other liberal people who press their agendas. He ends his program with someone from the Boston Globe pitching his next day’s news stories, the latter being particularly off-putting when you think how little diverse opinion there is in the Boston media and now one outlet is propagandizing for another.

Despite all these things, there was one thing that began to attract me to his program. It was Jim Braude, the progressive himself, who was doing what few other persons in the TV industry interviewing people do, he was asking hard questions. Even though I knew he probably agreed with what the person was saying he would not let the person slip and slide. He’d nail them down with questions that you would expect to be asked by a person from a conservative background. He is often successful through his questions in showing us whether the person is a lightweight or not.

He had a member of Congress on the other day. She was telling us how wonderful Hillary will be as president. He asked her to tell us two things she did in the past that were highly noteworthy. She blanched. She could not answer his question. He let her go since it was obvious she had no answer. But when she tried to duck answering his question as to how she would vote on the marijuana question he nicely forced her to answer.

I noticed the same thing with other guests. He’s all over them if they try to avoid his questions. It is nice to see someone like Jim Braude who is bright and skilled and has the courage to ask questions that hold a person’s feet to the fire. If you want to take a peek at a guy who gets behind the bull and down to the nitty-gritty and works to clarify an issue by giving all sides of it you would be wise if you tuned him in. I’d love to see him on the national stage interviewing some of our wise men and women who are running the nation.


  1. Matt I’m a progressive love your blog don’t always agree with your opinions but would have a beer with you any day! The same can’t be said about those regressives over at Fox News, they seem to censor any thought that doesn’t jive with their worldview.

    • Dave:

      Thanks. I hope no one agrees with all my opinions since I’ve described myself as a mugwamp who on one day is a progressive and on the other a conservative depending on the issue. There are those who are stuck in one mold as on Fox. I try to discuss things with both sides. The real right wingers of the Fox wing get tight lips which quiver when I disagree with them which makes me shut up since they appear ready to strike out at me; the progressives will get the look of one who is listening to a babbling child and stop listening and appear ready to walk away.

  2. Matt,
    Braude does a great job.

    My favorite local journalist is David Boeri. Always going for the truth. Not afraid to ask tough questions……..ambushing Cadillac Frank and chasing Paddy down the street.
    Talked with him for a few minutes in Cambridge after the premier screening of “Whitey” a few years ago. His brother was on Whitey w the DEA. See found car bug…”Good good guys, good bad guys” Has local knowledge and credibility.

    I remember Emily Sweeney pitching a few meatballs to John Connolly on her show as he was smoothly explaining how you never want to get too close to your infawments, or try to turn the top guy in a criminal awganization……lol

  3. Nice observations, Matt!