Why NPR Should 'Defund' Bigoted President

Posted: Oct 24, 2010 12:00 AM
When asked by reporters, immediately after she had insinuated that Juan Williams was in need of psychiatric help-presumably because since 9.11 he sometimes feel anxious around muslims who appear dangerous, the President of NPR Vivian Schiller stated:

"The only thing that matters to me in this case is how Juan as a news analyst conducts himself, and whether it's in violation of our journalistic ethics. It's really that straight forward. Now I don't need to get into a debate about is this show news, is this show opinion. That's... Let's... Let somebody else talk about that. My only interest here... This action was not anti-Fox(News)... This action was pro-journalistic standards. And a news analyst cannot continue, credibly to... to... to analyze the news, if they are expressing opinions about divisive issues. It's really that simple." (Emphasis added)

Ms. Schiller of course is trying to stem the flood of response that as of Friday, had even the NPR ombudsman admitting, was unnecessary and brought on in large measure by the poor handling of the matter.

More importantly and more intriguing to me however is the outright lies that Ms. Schiller told the reporters taking her statement.

It was deception on several levels.

The first deception was that she gave the quote after directly insinuating that Juan Williams should speak to his psychiatrist. If Mr. Williams even has a psychiatrist on retainer certainly such a fact should be treated with more respect.

Secondly Ms. Schiller attempted by her response as quoted above to pretend to keep her involvement in the matter, "all business." But this quote came after aggressive questioning by reporters at the very event where she mocked Juan Williams in her limited remarks addressing the issue.

Thirdly Ms. Schiller ended that comment with a blatantly untrue assertion. News analysts are asked to give their analysis of the news specifically from their unique opinion. Generally speaking news analysts are asked to be so after years of expertise in journalism, observing decades of news events, and understanding the long term implications that were a result. Juan's background was suitable for such an assignment, and had faithfully carried out those duties for more than a decade with NPR.

Fourthly Ms. Schiller knows that the news of the day almost always consists of divisive issues, and the very thing she was paying Juan to do was to express opinions about those issues. (Ironically the original issue Juan's comments were a result of, had to do with the Mosque that has been proposed to be located near ground zero. Divisive, but also one of the largest news stories of the year, perhaps decade.)

Finally Ms. Schiller is dishonest, but she is also hypocritical in that NPR continues to employ such abusers of their roles as journalists as Nina Totenberg, who once actually opined on a major outlet her desire to see a Senator with whom she disagreed be stricken with AIDS, or even better that Senator's grandchild.

If journalism is about anything it should be about telling the truth, as best one knows it, to the best of their ability, and to do so transparently. Based on this standard there should be much flexibility as to the biases that come out in analysis because ever analyst will be seeing life through their own set of eyes and circumstances. As long as they do so with grace and an admission of transparency - this does not violate ANY journalism ethic.

The matter before NPR is that they pretend to hold no views whatsoever, when they are reliably representative of the views of the left--time and again. The problem for Schiller in particular is that she is that she practices double standards (firing Juan WIlliams, while keeping Nina Totenberg employed), or downright dishonest in her stated reasons for firing Williams.

Most people in America believe it to be the latter.

In other words, Vivian Schiller, the President and Chief Executive of National Public Radio, and whose salary is paid via donations from the public and tax dollars requisitioned against our approval, is a bigot whose views cannot be violated even slightly without repercussion.

Ironically Juan Williams' comments to Bill OReilly were a gentle chiding to be more tolerant. And for the record Juan Williams is someone I personally disagree with about 70-80% of the time.

Nonetheless he has the right to not be misrepresented, nor to be mistreated, and Vivian Schiller has done both.

NPR should replace Schiller, that is, if they truly care about being seen as an on-going important journalistic outlet where genuine ethics of truth in reporting are respected.

For as of now Schiller has made a mockery of that which she claimed to be practicing.

And for now Senators and House members should be taking a cold hard look at future funding for NPR and--being totally transparent here--unplug the supply.