Steve Inskeep

Steve Inskeep is host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most widely heard radio news program in the United States. He co-hosts the program with Renee Montagne and David Greene.

Known for probing questions to everyone from presidents to warlords to musicians, Inskeep has a passion for stories of the less famous—like an American soldier who lost both feet in Afghanistan, or an Ethiopian woman's extraordinary journey to the United States.

Since joining Morning Edition in 2004, Inskeep has hosted the program from New Orleans, Detroit, Karachi, Cairo, Houston and Tehran; investigated Iraqi police in Baghdad; and received a 2006 Robert F. Kennedy journalism award for "The Price of African Oil," on conflict in Nigeria. In 2012 he traveled 2,700 miles across North Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring. In 2013 he reported from war-torn Syria, and on Iran's historic election. In 2014 he drove with colleagues 2,428 miles along the entire U.S.-Mexico border; the resulting radio series, "Borderland," won widespread attention, as did the acclaimed NPR online magazine of the same name.

Inskeep says Morning Edition works to "slow down the news," making sense of fast-moving events. A prime example came during the 2008 Presidential campaign, when Inskeep and NPR's Michele Norris conducted "The York Project," groundbreaking conversations about race, which received an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for excellence.

Inskeep was hired by NPR in 1996. His first full-time assignment was the 1996 presidential primary in New Hampshire. He went on to cover the Pentagon, the Senate, and the 2000 presidential campaign of George W. Bush. After the September 11, 2001, attacks, he covered the war in Afghanistan, turmoil in Pakistan, and the war in Iraq. In 2003, he received a National Headliner Award for investigating a military raid gone wrong in Afghanistan. He has twice been part of NPR News teams awarded the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for coverage of Iraq.

On days of bad news, Inskeep is inspired by the Langston Hughes book, Laughing to Keep From Crying. Of hosting Morning Edition during the 2008 financial crisis and Great Recession, he told Nuvo magazine when "the whole world seemed to be falling apart, it was especially important for me ... to be amused, even if I had to be cynically amused, about the things that were going wrong. Laughter is a sign that you're not defeated."

Inskeep is the author of Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi, a 2011 book on one of the world's great megacities. He is also author of Jacksonland, a forthcoming history of President Andrew Jackson's long-running conflict with John Ross, a Cherokee chief who resisted the removal of Indians from the eastern United States in the 1830's.

He has been a guest on numerous TV programs including ABC's This Week, NBC's Meet the Press, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, CNN's Inside Politics and the PBS Newhour. He has written for publications including The New York Times, Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic.

A native of Carmel, Indiana, Inskeep is a graduate of Morehead State University in Kentucky.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. We're going to get a glimpse from the front lines of the civil war in Syria now. That war is expected to be the focus of peace negotiations, in the coming weeks. The U.S. is pressing for those talks after brutal fighting, fighting that's begun to spread to neighboring countries.

Many people in Syria are accustomed to the sound of daily gunfire. It is normal in battle-scarred cities like Damascus or Qusair.

But along the beaches and in the cafes of Tartous, an area that is a center of support for the embattled President Bashar Assad, the sounds are a bit more peaceful.

Near the water's edge of the Mediterranean, tables, chairs and umbrellas sit upon huge stones. At one of these tables sits a brother and sister on vacation.

Traveling to Damascus gives you a view of Syria's war turned inside out.

The international community talks of arming Syria's rebels against President Bashar Assad, but in the capital many people still hope the rebels will lose.

That's the thinking we found around a Muslim shrine in Damascus, a tribute to the granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammad. She lived centuries ago, but a Damascus doctor we met spoke of her in the present tense.

Many years ago, the president of Syria, Hafez al-Assad, approved the construction of a new presidential residence on a mountainside above Damascus.

Assad never occupied the building, saying his successor should take it. When his son Bashar Assad became that successor, he didn't move into the house, either. He preferred a residence down the slope.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Again and again, President Obama's administration tries to pivot attention toward East Asia. Administration officials believe China and its neighbors are where the economic future lies.

GREENE: And yet it's the Middle East that keeps demanding the president's attention. It brings to mind that line from F. Scott Fitzgerald: So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Here's another reminder that a fast-moving news story can completely change. Prosecutors have dropped the charges against Paul Kevin Curtis. He's the Elvis impersonator first arrested in the case of ricin being sent to U.S. officials, as we reported last week.

A fertilizer plant exploded near Waco, Texas, Wednesday night. The explosion at West Fertilizer in downtown West, a community about 20 miles north of Waco, happened around 7 p.m. and could be heard as far away as Waxahachie, 45 miles to the north.

Earlier this week in Caracas, we were about to go to an interview when it had to be rescheduled. The man we were going to speak with was unavoidably detained — kidnapped, to be precise.

It took awhile after that for Laureano Marquez to free up his schedule and meet us in a coffee shop.

"I'm so sorry," he said when he finally arrived, as if it was his fault for being thrown into a car and driven off to the far reaches of town.

In the days before elevators, there was no such thing as a penthouse on the top floor. The highest floors of a building had cheaper rents because the stairs were hard to climb.

Caracas, Venezuela, is organized roughly the same way, with many poor neighborhoods climbing up the sides of a mountain valley. Some of the poorest homes are among the most remote, accessible not by any road but by alleyways and long flights of stairs.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep in Caracas, Venezuela. This country is about to hold a presidential election. Voters are replacing the late Hugo Chavez, who shouldered this oil-rich republic onto the world stage. He often denounced the United States as an oppressive empire - even as he sold Americans oil - and imported gasoline from U.S. refineries. The election of his successor this weekend gives us a chance to listen to a changing Latin America.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.

We're learning this morning of a possible change in the American use of unmanned drones. The change, if it happens, would affect who gives the orders and possibly how much the public learns.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. President Obama is making his first visit to Israel since he's been in the White House. His past relations with Israel's government have not always gone well. Though the two nations insist they're reached new levels of security cooperation, they have publicly debated issues ranging from Iran to the Mideast peace process.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELLS RINGING)

INSKEEP: That's the sound of bells in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, as Pope Francis celebrated his inaugural Mass today. The ceremony was infused with meaning, both in the substance of what the new pope said and the symbolism of how he was presented.

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli joins us on the line from Rome.

Hi, Sylvia.

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When President Obama recently called for stricter gun control laws, he started out by saying this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is the land of the free, and it always will be.

INSKEEP: The land of the free, he said. But he added this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

OBAMA: We don't live in isolation. We live in a society, a government of and by and for the people. We are responsible for each other.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK. The field is set for the NCAA Division One men's basketball tournament. Top seeds include Kansas, Louisville, Indiana and Gonzaga. The team previously known for its heroic upsets in the NCAA tournament is now one of the teams to beat. NPR's Mike Pesca is here to discuss the selections. Mike, good morning.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello.

INSKEEP: How'd Gonzaga do it?

PESCA: I know, right? You read those other teams, and it's, like, perennial power, perennial power, perennial power, Jesuit school from Spokane.

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Gunmen killed a woman in Pakistan yesterday. The news stories about this were formulaic for Pakistan, she was killed in a customary manner by assassins on motorcycles who rolled away with impunity. What's remarkable is the way she lived. Parveen Rehman came from Karachi, one of the world's largest cities. She helped thousands of poor people obtain basic services.

When I first met her in 2008, she told me she studied to become an architect, but doubted the value of the upscale buildings she learned to design.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning on this Friday. Let's talk a little more deeply about the surprisingly strong jobs report that came out today. NPR's Yuki Noguchi is here with the numbers. Hi, Yuki.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: OK. So what does the Labor Department say happened in the labor market in February?

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Thousands of Venezuelans have been filling the streets this week, listening to music and lining up to see the coffin of their leader, Hugo Chavez, who died on Tuesday. Leaders from around the world have also come to the capital city, Caracas, for a funeral which formally takes place today. And in keeping with his often larger-than-life persona, the Venezuelan government plans to embalm Chavez and keep his body on display under glass, in perpetuity. NPR's Juan Forero is in Caracas, following events there. Hi, Juan.

This is not the first time Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid has taken a risky approach to a novel. His The Reluctant Fundamentalist was written entirely in the second person. The bearded narrator of that book sits at a tea stall in Lahore, talking about his drift toward extremism while directly addressing "you," the reader, who is taken to be an increasingly jumpy and terrified American across the table.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Benjamin Franklin said the only certain things are death and taxes. Let's add a third thing: Interviews. At many points, starting with school admissions or a new job, you're going to sit down before someone else and answer their questions.

Which is what NPR's Shankar Vedantam is about to do with us because he's got some new research relating to this topic. Hi, Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: And let's begin this interview. What's the new research about?

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. In Italy the papacy is officially vacant. The Vatican is now under the control of the cardinals who will elect a new leader of the Catholic Church. Yesterday Pope Benedict XVI gave up his ring, his cape and red papal shoes to become Pope Emeritus. Cokie Roberts was there, joins us from Rome. Hi, Cokie.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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Today, a federal judge in New Orleans hears from witnesses to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A civil trial of BP opened yesterday in a case to determine blame and financial liability for the environmental disaster that was the worst disaster in U.S. history.

Friends in Karachi had me over for a beer Sunday evening. It wasn't hard for them to do. Alcohol is broadly outlawed in Pakistan, but with so many exceptions and so little enforcement, you can usually find something — in this case, tallboy cans of Murree's Millennium Brew from a Pakistani brewery.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

We have a clearer picture this morning of just what an immigration overhaul might look like.

INSKEEP: A bipartisan group of senators is spreading word that they have agreed on principles for change.

MONTAGNE: The proposal would include a pathway to citizen for millions of people now in the U.S. illegally. Republicans have led the opposition to that change, up to now, commonly calling it amnesty.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Major League Baseball has enacted new anti-doping policies that are being described as unprecedented in American professional sports. Yesterday, Major League Baseball and its Players Union said that starting next year they will be fighting the use of human growth hormone and testosterone - two allegedly popular banned substances.

NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman has been covering this story. Tom, good morning.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Baseball writers send a message when they vote for candidates for the Hall of Fame, both in who they select and in who they pass up. And for the first time since 1996, only the eighth time in baseball history that baseball writers decided not to nominate anyone for induction. The winners are no one. The pool of candidates was one of the most star-studded ever. It included Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa - players all linked to performance-enhancing drugs.

NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman joins me. Good morning.

On Monday, Morning Edition explored crime rates in Chicago and how the murder rate went up in 2012. That was against national trends and even against Chicago's long-range decline in crime. We discussed police focus on "hot spots," and the dissolution of gangs. But listeners asked: What about gun bans?

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