It’s a Free Country

By lex, on October 21st, 2010

Just be careful what you say:

NPR News has terminated the contract of longtime news analyst Juan Williams after remarks he made on the Fox News Channel about Muslims.

Williams appeared Monday on The O’Reilly Factor, and host Bill O’Reilly asked him to comment on the idea that the U.S. is facing a dilemma with Muslims.

O’Reilly has been looking for support for his own remarks on a recent episode of ABC’s The View in which he directly blamed Muslims for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Co-hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg walked off the set in the middle of his appearance.

Williams responded: “Look, Bill, 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.”

Williams also warned O’Reilly against blaming all Muslims for “extremists,” saying Christians shouldn’t be blamed for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh…

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.

Problem solved.

Update: NPR’s CEO says that Williams should keep his thoughts between himself and his psychiatrist. Classy.

Update 2: Mr. Williams speaks about his former employers, un-apologetically.

(They) have used an honest statement of feeling as the basis for a charge of bigotry to create a basis for firing me. Well, now that I no longer work for NPR let me give you my opinion. This is an outrageous violation of journalistic standards and ethics by management that has no use for a diversity of opinion, ideas or a diversity of staff (I was the only black male on the air). This is evidence of one-party rule and one sided thinking at NPR that leads to enforced ideology, speech and writing. It leads to people, especially journalists, being sent to the gulag for raising the wrong questions and displaying independence of thought.

If the NPR hierarchy had a lick of sense, they’d be kicking themselves right now. But because they clearly believe themselves to be of the political left, they probably think that this will be good for their base contributors.

Which may well be true. But it’s not good for the nation that “National Public Radio” pretends to serve.

True confession: I actually listen to NPR every day, on the way to work and on the way back. Except when they’re doing one of their madly repetitive fund drives, like they are just now. I joke that it’s because I think that shouting at the radio constitutes aerobic exercise, but it’s really because – once you learn to filter out the meanness and bias – they have some thought-provoking content. I had almost decided to send some money along for the first time, if only for the entertainment value.

Farewell to all that.

Update 3: Speaking of unapologetic, the purges continue, comrade.

News that Juan Williams’ contract with NPR was terminated over comments he made about Muslims while appearing on Fox News shines a spotlight on the radio network’s evergreen controversy: Its continued affiliation with Fox News. Specifically, NPR’s Mara Liasson and her long-running association with Fox News has often raised questions.  This might be the proper time for NPR to finally address that thorny issue.

Heaven forfend that the left’s private media preserve country’s public radio outlet should tolerate diversity of opinion or vigorous debate.

Update 4: NPR’s ombudsman says that Williams’ termination was “poorly handled,” but defends the outcome.

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Lex, Politics

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