On Juan Williams

Posted: Oct 22, 2010 11:46 AM
Juan Williams was fired from National Public Radio for a comment he made on Fox (with whom he has also had a long-term contract) in which he said on the Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor:

"I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But 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."

NPR, which admitted its executives were "uncomfortable" with Williams' appearances on Fox, issued this statement:

"His remarks on The O'Reilly Factor this past Monday were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR."

NPR's own reporting of the controversy had this:

"Williams' presence on the largely conservative and often contentious prime-time talk shows of Fox News has long been a sore point with NPR News executives."

Not only that, but NPR's chief operating officer, Vivian Schiller, explaining NPR's decision to cut Mr. Williams loose said at a public event in Atlanta that,

"He should have kept his feeling about Muslims between himself and his psychiatrist or his publicist - take your pick."

Whoa! Check please!

Are you telling me that the woman who is the CEO of National Public Radio essentially said that Juan Williams is crazy?

And she still has her job?

Juan Williams was fired from National Public Radio for a comment he made on According to a Wikipedia entry:

"She graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor's degree in Russian studies and Soviet studies" and "Prior to leading NPR, Schiller was a senior vice president of NYTimes.com."

Which goes a long way toward explaining those white flecks which appear in the corners of Vivian's mouth when she talks about the Fox News Channel.

Williams said:

"I've been there 10 years. I have taken shows on that network to unprecedented heights, served key roles there, raised tons of money for them. I don't fit in their box, I'm not a predictable, black liberal."

I have known Juan Williams for, maybe, two decades. Maybe longer. We are not pals and we don't hang out together.

I have not always agreed with Juan, and I suspect he does not often agree with me. But I have always believed that when he has made a statement, it has come from his heart, sifted through his significant intellect.

That fact that NPR has decided that it is a violation of its journalistic ethics (which, in itself, is an oxymoron) for Mr. Williams to have expressed an honest opinion tells us much more about NPR than it does about Mr. Williams.

Here is a short list of what I suspect are DOs and DON'Ts at NPR:

-- DO say good things about medical marijuana. DON'T say good things about cigarettes.

-- DO say good things about Palestinians. DON'T say good things about Israelis.

-- DO say positive things about "green jobs." DON'T say good things about manufacturing companies.

-- DO say wonderful things about Barack Obama. NEVER say anything good about ANY Republican.

NPR says it gets about two percent of its funding ($3.3 million) from the Federal government, the point being the financial geniuses at NPR consider that to be an insignificant amount. I certainly hope that once the new Republican majority in Congress gets settled in it (a) takes steps to reverse Obama care and (b) frees NPR from the shackles of its Federal subsidy.

Roger Ailes, the head man at Fox, immediately signed Juan Williams to a new contract "that will give him an expanded role with the network."

Ailes described Williams as "a staunch defender of liberal viewpoints" and "an honest man whose freedom of speech is protected by Fox News on a daily basis."

Maybe what we should do is go down to New York Avenue, where NPR is headquartered, and hand out copies of the First Amendment.

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