No, softball isn't the right sports analogy, if only because Roberts never puts wood on the questions. The segment really unfolds like a brief set of air tennis, with Roberts and a host play-acting a vigorous volley. Drained of controversy and conflict, the Cokie minutes provide perfect editorial balance if your idea of balance is zero. This is journalistic Ambien, narcotizing people who've just woken up.
The only time Roberts has come alive on radio in the past year was last month, during a Weekend Edition appearance. She wasn't there to analyze the news but to participate in what, for all intents and purposes, was a four-minute, 36-second infomercial for the updated edition of her 10-year-old book We Are Our Mothers' Daughters. But even that spot was filled with platitudes, clichés, and the obvious.
Roberts has had a good, long run on NPR. It's time for her to surrender those Monday minutes to someone new with verve and bite. Do you suppose her old dog is still around?
Or, she could start a new NPR show called Coasting With Cokie. Thanks to Slate intern Molly Redden for research assistance. Tweet provided by Twitter. Reader e-mail courtesy Gmail (firstname.lastname@example.org). (E-mail may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum; in a future article; or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)