I've both (mildly) praised and critiqued NPR's China quake coverage, but I have to say in all seriousness, I find Blob Siegel's reports most distasteful. I can see why someone stuck him into the host slot (to frustrate and torment us!), rather than having him do field work, because he's absolutely the wrong type of person to be covering something like an earthquake. It's as if he's strolling through a stamp collection fair or something, making urbane little comments peppered with his stylish 'um's and 'er's and other pause-fillers, trying to be suave.
His attempts at sympathy or empathy aren't very believable, either. Not that a reporter should be troweling on the emotions or anything. I've been hearing very good objective reports from BBC World Service, delivered without any personal baggage. On the receiving end back in DC, the Simonizer's putting on his respectful choked-up voice, while in old Chengdu, the unflappable Blob sounds like he's just wrapping up another brilliant edition of All Things Considered, and having a swell time doing it. His sign off had 'I'm doing just fine, thank you' written all over it. The story is tragic enough without us having to put up with such annoyances.
To me Siegel's the proverbial puffy guy in the corner at the local Starbuck's, pontificating to a small coterie of dumbos, regaling them with self-satisfied slop. And the dumbos? They think he's just great! So smart, so witty, so refined - someone to trust and to be charmed by, even as he speaks of a catastrophe. At the very most, Siegel should host some hoity-toity chatshow about antiques or something, for a equally tiny audience to cringe at.