22
October
2010

A Word About NPR’s Firing of Juan Williams

I’ll premise my comments by saying that am a financial supporter of National Public Radio. During their pledge drives I sometimes break out the checkbook and put my money where my mouth is.

That being said, I will miss the analysis of Juan Williams. After all, Williams was hired as a news ANALYST, not a commentator or an editorial spokesperson. Williams did cross the line, even if only a bit, when he made his comments on Fox News about a fear of people wearing Muslim garb coming onto an airplane. Williams said something that many people already think. Had he premised his comments with something like, “whether we like it or not, many Americans are concerned when….”

Williams did cross a line from Analyst to Commentator but NPR’s President Vivian Schiller also crossed a line when she questioned the mental health of Williams. Still, Schiller over-reacted when she fired him.

That being said, if Williams was to be fired for inappropriate comments, so should Schiller.

All of that being said, NPR is independent and is still the best news source out there. While the rest of the media is corporate owned and influenced, NPR retains an independence and is able to offer a higher quality news source.

I fear that, like so often happens, there will be a gross over reaction to this from the right. Unlike many businesses which hire, fire, abuse, underpay and undervalue their employees, NPR treats its employees well. But a big difference that I am certain we will see here, is that Republicans will not come to the aid of the employer. No, they will for nearly the first time in many of their lives, claim that the employee was wrongly treated.

Williams has, since his firing, played the race card much as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas did during his confirmation hearings. While Thomas called the hearings “a high-tech lynching of an uppity black man”, Williams is saying “I’m not a predictable, black liberal”. But Thomas’ and Williams’ accusations aside, Williams still did something that he wasn’t allowed to do — violate the terms of his contract. How far or extensive he violated his contract is an item that is irrelevant. NPR looked at his comments and their conclusion was that, yes, Williams had violated the terms of his contract.

There have recently been renewed calls from Republicans to cut off funding for NPR. Federal funding makes up less than 2% of NPR’s budget. Those who would be most adversely affected would be local stations without high listener rates. If funding for these small market affiliates was to be eliminated, their ability to get anything but corporate news radio and commentary would vanish. Republicans would love nothing better than to see any semblance of resistance to their uniform message eliminated. To use a Star Trek allusion, the Republicans are like the Borg whose one goal is to expand their influence and to tell their adversaries, “Resistance is futile”. Fortunately in this country we still have a two party system and no, resistance is not futile.

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4 Comments

  1. Hodge:

    I think I prefer corporate-owned over individually owned and publicly funded.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/18/business/media/18npr.html?_r=2&src=busln

    and in case you were wondering what the Open Society Foundations are, here’s the website.

    http://www.soros.org/

  2. kenyatta yamel:

    I would have fired him because I felt his comments were offensive and would bring down the reputation of NPR.

  3. Christopher Thomas:

    “How far or extensive he violated his contract is an item that is irrelevant.” Not really. Nina Tottenberg regularly appears on other shows and has a history of stupid comments too.

    Juan Williams just got kicked off the intellectual plantation–the idiological slavery of the left. He’s better off for the experience. Interesting that you throw him in with Thomas. I’m glad that you are in a position to judge the validity of the minority experience.

  4. appleton14:

    If public funding is only 2% of NPR’s total budget, what’s the big deal in eliminating it. Federal government has to start cutting back somewhere and this is as good a place as any.

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