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The Tentacle


October 27, 2010

Juan Williams: The Victim

Kevin E. Dayhoff

Please add my voice to the hue and cry over National Public Radio (NPR) abrupt firing of the award-winning liberal commentator, author, and journalist, Juan Williams, last Wednesday.

 

If you will painfully recall, Mr. Williams was fired for behavior “inconsistent with NPR’s ethics code,” according to an internal memo sent on behalf of NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller.

 

“Juan's comments on Fox violated our standards as well as our values and offended many in doing so,” Ms. Schiller wrote in the memo, obtained by Fox News.

 

What standards?

 

Certainly not for the standards to which it holds other members of its elite circle.

 

The Harrisonburg, VA, publication, Daily News-Record, wrote yesterday, “National Public Radio erred hugely in firing liberal news analyst Juan Williams. But the magnitude of its bungling finds full exposure in James Taranto’s Best of the Web column in The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Taranto proves that NPR is not just biased, but nakedly and proudly biased.

 

“(Mr. Williams’) opinions, NPR said, violated NPR ‘standards and practices.’ If so, Mr. Taranto wants to know why, if Mr. Williams cannot work for NPR, ‘correspondent’ Nina Totenberg can. She frequently expresses hard-left and sometimes flatly despicable opinions with regularity.

 

This was her opinion of the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R., NC), expressed in 1995: ‘I think he ought to be worried about the — about what’s going on in the good Lord’s mind, because if there’s retributive justice, he’ll get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it.’”

 

Or maybe NPR was using the Council on American-Islamic Relations standards?

 

According to Fox News, “The Council on American-Islamic Relations had urged NPR to take swift action against Williams. The group said such commentary from a journalist about racial, ethnic or religious minority groups should not be tolerated.

 

“‘NPR should address the fact that one of its news analysts seems to believe that all airline passengers who are perceived to be Muslim can legitimately be viewed a security threats,’ said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

 

“CAIR national spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told Fox News that the group is ‘pleased that the network addressed Muslim concerns.’”

 

Hmmm, when it catches its breath, CAIR may also want to address the beheading of a journalist at the hands of Muslim extremists who also blow up scores of innocent women and children… I’m just saying.

 

In the end, Mr. Williams was probably fired because he violated a cardinal sin; he appears on Fox News.

 

Actually, the ever-perceptible Mr. Williams probably got it right when he said to Fox News’ host Bill O’Reilly on the popular The O’Reilly Factor,” news and commentary program:

 

“I don't fit in their box. I'm not a predictable, black, liberal. And let me tell you something else, you were exactly right when you said you know what this comes down to, they were looking for a reason to get rid of me because I'm appearing on Fox News. They don't want me talking to you.”

 

Howard Kurtz, who now writes for The Daily Beast, recently wrote: “If Williams had spoken so candidly in a different forum – say, Charlie Rose instead of The O'Reilly Factor – would NPR still have fired him?

 

“Did National Public Radio really fire Juan Williams for his remarks about Muslims – or the forum in which he made them?”

 

It has been lost on too many people that the outrage is as much about the hypocrisy of NPR as it is, in the words of Los Angeles Times writer, Jonah Goldberg, the “near suicidal idiocy of NPR's decision to fire” Mr. Williams over his comments on Monday, October 18:

 

“When I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

 

But what was lost, especially for the likes of Ms. Schiller, was the context of what Mr. Williams said that certainly did not portray him as bigoted or narrow-minded. That’s how he feels and I respect that.

 

Here’s the thing. I have to agree with Mr. Kurtz when he astutely said what is on the minds of many political news junkies: “But are (Mr. Williams’) remarks so far beyond the pale that he couldn’t continue as an NPR analyst? Or is it that the public radio network’s leadership didn’t agree with Williams – thus reinforcing NPR’s image as a left-leaning operation?”

 

But, really, many of us who are old enough to recognize media silliness understand that much of the discussion over what Mr. Williams said is a diversion from the harsh reality uttered by Mr. Goldberg in his L.A. Times’ column, “For good reason, millions of conservatives don't trust NPR — and the rest of mainstream media.”

 

The question that remains, should NPR continue to be funded by taxpayer dollars? Ah, that would be NO; but not because NPR is a hypocritical left-wing, state run media, but because taxpayer dollars should not be funding a news organization – not to mention a leftist news organization.

 

But caution is in order. Mr. Goldberg is correct when he observes, “PBS and NPR have spent decades target-hardening their budgetary bunkers. Busting them quickly would take an enormous amount of time and effort, with miniscule reward. Indeed, Democrats would love it if Republicans allowed themselves to be baited into what would essentially be a culture-war fight over public radio (the last ‘war on Big Bird’ was a disaster for the GOP).”

 

That said, if NPR is as good as many of its liberal apologists suggest, then it certainly should have no problem whatsoever in attracting the capital it needs to fund its operations.

 

kevindayhoff@gmail.com

 



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