Saturday, October 23, 2010

Juan Williams Was Railroaded

Unless you're a hermit (a hermit with a web connection if you're reading this) you've undoubtedly heard by now that National Public Radio recently fired Juan Williams for making the following comment on a FOX News program: "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.”

How does one get fired for expressing his apprehension about being on an airplane with people who are dressed like Muslims? It was people dressed exactly like that who brought down four planes in one day causing the worst single day civilian air disaster in American history. Other Muslims have attempted the same stunt several times since then only to have been stopped by quick thinking people, all of whom (thankfully) were keeping a leery eye out for... you know... people dressed like that.

Alicia Shepard, world's worst excuse for an Ombudsman at NPR, wrote in her online column:

One reason he was fired, according to Vivian Schiller, NPR’s CEO, is that the company felt he wasn’t performing the role of a news analyst:

“News analysts may not take personal public positions on controversial issues; doing so undermines their credibility as analysts, and that’s what’s happened in this situation,” said Schiller in an email to NPR member stations, some of which are upset about Williams' firing.

“As you all well know," she continued, "we offer views of all kinds on your air every day, but those views are expressed by those we interview – not our reporters and analysts.”
Miss Shepard agrees with this and says the firing of Williams was justified.

There are many things wrong with this position. Williams was a commentator in his roll at FOX News. Commentators are paid to have opinions. NPR should know; they have 37 commentators issuing just as many controversial opinions on a broad range of subjects. A week doesn't go by in which Terry Gross doesn't say something controversial and inflammatory. In 2006 Frank Deford said of Barry Bonds, "...Bud Selig should announce today that if and when Bonds passes Babe Ruth's old record of 714 home runs and Aaron's 755, baseball will offer no congratulations, participate in no ceremony. If the Giant franchise had any honor, it would do the same." The trouble is that Bonds hadn't been convicted of anything yet! This fact did nothing to dissuade Deford's opinion on the subject. I believe Bonds took steroids. I have no problem with Deford having his say about it. Williams is nervous to be on the same plane with people dressed in Muslim garb. Williams is right to be nervous. But when's Mr. Deford's firing?

Nina Totenberg once said about General Jerry Boykin's views of Islam and the war on terrorism, "I hope he's not long for this world." Is that an example of NPR's ethical guidelines? I ask you, was the remark Williams made even half as controversial as hers? Miss Totenberg still has a job.

Miss Shepard in a rather arrogant manner wrote about the "balanced news analyst on NPR." She went on to mention the "collision of values: NPR's values emphasizing fact-based, objective journalism versus...notably Fox News, to promote only one side of the ideological spectrum."

Aside from the uppity attitude, I find her outlook very weak and thoughtless. I'm no fan of Fox News, but NPR fairs no better. NPR has very few conservative commentators at all. Fox News is certainly conservative leaning, but they have several liberal commentators: Alan Colmes, Greta Van Susteren, Mara Liasson, Kristen Powers, Susan Estrich, Pat Caddell, Mort Kondrache, Bob Beckel to name a few they've had over the years. And did I fail to mention Juan Williams himself? Sure he's more of what we might call a centrist, but he's still much more liberal than he is conservative.

Juan Williams displayed common sense when he said he was nervous being on a plane with people who dressed like, or identified themselves as being, Muslim. Most of us feel the same way. It has nothing to do with racism or hate and everything to do with a desire to live a long and healthy life.

NPR should have immediately fired Nina Totenberg for her remarks about General Boykin. It should now consider firing its CEO, Vivian Schiller, along with their Ombudsman—Alicia Shepard, both of whom are among the worst decision makers a news organization could possibly have if it's their goal to have an intelligent, unbiased news station. And they should give back the 1.8 billion dollars donated by liberal kingpin—George Soros if they want intelligent listeners to believe them when they refer to their craft as "objective journalism" that does not "promote only one side of the ideological spectrum." "Balanced news" on NPR might just be the biggest oxymoron since "summer snow."