Some commentators on the state of the American media, formerly the American press, are shocked, shocked! Others aren't. Inquiring minds want to know if this is a scandal, just philanthropy, a menacing portent for the independence of American journalism, or all of the above.
In some right-wing quarters, George Soros' imprimatur is taken as the sign of the Devil, while some on the left take it as a Good Politics Seal of Approval.Whatever it is, this latest gift got the media mavens' attention for the usual fleeting minute. For whatever else George Soros may be, he's good copy. Money usually is. See the attention paid Warren Buffett's every comment, cough and hiccup. Nothing impresses innocents of all persuasions like the opinions of the rich -- on just about any subject. Or as Teyve sings in "Fiddler on the Roof," "when you're rich, they think you real-ly know!"
This much is certain: Its hundred new reporters better adhere to NPR's party line, explicit or implicit. Or else they'll find themselves no longer in its employ. See under Williams, Juan.
Mr. Williams is now a decidedly former commentator on NPR, having been fired for commenting. The last straw came when he said something about passengers in Muslim garb making him nervous in airports, a violation of Political Correctness Directive No. 101.
His being sacked got even a lot of NPR fans upset. For a moment the curtain was lifted on NPR's claims of objectivity, diversity and general trustworthiness. That's all just a facade. Even if NPR lets a token conservative have a say from time to time. Juan Williams isn't even a right-winger, but he had to go anyway. He dared express an independent thought, and NPR couldn't tolerate it.
None of this should have come as a surprise to anyone with half an ear. NPR's ideological proclivities may be well dressed, but they're scarcely hidden. Yet there are those who believe all that elevated hokum about its being a source of objective news. As that great political philosopher P.T. Barnum once observed, there's one born every minute.
That NPR now has accepted a small to middlin' fortune from one of George Soros' philanthropic fronts only confirms its status as a news source with much the same agenda as MSNBC. It's just a lot more subtle about it. And therefore more effective. NPR's real specialty is euphemism, especially about the source of its funds. (On NPR, advertisers are known as "underwriters.")