Today NPR fired long-time journalist Juan Williams. Williams, appearing on the FOX program The O’Reilly Factor, expressed anti-Muslim bigotry while trying to defend similar comments made by O’Reilly on The View. Said Williams, “But when I get on a 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.” And in his best Glenn Beck form, Williams qualified his statement with a declaration that he is not a bigot.
NPR had previously complained about Williams’ comments on FOX and asked that he stop using the NPR name while on the FOX network.
According to NPR, it is a contractual violation for employees to voice their personal opinions. That’s right, folks, NPR is not FOX.
The right-wing echo chamber has been aflutter since Williams’ firing claiming, among other reasons, a violation of First Amendment Rights. And, as usual, the echo chamber demonstrates a remarkable ignorance of the Constitution they claim to adore. Freedom of Speech, of course, pertains to the government infringing the speech of citizens. But who needs details like that when there’s faux outrage to be had?
Several weeks ago CNN fired radio anchor Rick Sanchez for anti-semitic remarks made on the air. In an attempt to ridicule Daily Show host Jon Stewart, who is Jewish, Sanchez resorted to the ol’ Jews contol the media slur: “Very powerless people… [snickers] He’s such a minority, I mean, you know [sarcastically]… Please, what are you kidding? … I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they — the people in this country who are Jewish — are an oppressed minority? Yeah. [sarcastically]”
When Sanchez was fired there was nary a peep from the echo chamber; however, when Williams was fired conservative America went apoplectic. Why the outrage over one incident and not the other? The only difference is the minority group that was the object of the bigotry. Oh. Oops. I get it.
Lost amidst the red meat furor of the righteously indignant folks in red state America is genuine discussion of the issue. A trusted news organization like NPR has a responsibility to its audience to ensure that their employees are going to be professional and objective. *IF* that trust is broken, or if the audience has doubts about the reporter, it damages the product by damaging the news source’s credibility. NPR would delegitimize itself by retaining Williams after his bigoted comments.
Expect Reich-Wing politicians to revive the bogus and antiquated rhetoric of the “liberal” NPR. These politicians will call for federal de-funding of NPR (ie, Corporation for Public Broadcasting). But fret not. When Republicans tried to turn NPR and PBS into conservative propaganda outlets when Bush was president, they failed miserably for which the mastermind, Kenneth Tomlinson, was fired. Moreover, and completely lost on conservatives, NPR receives only about two-percent of its funding from the federal government.
And weep not for Juan Williams. Immediately following his bigoted statements, FOX was inspired to reward him with a new 3-year, $2 million contract. Williams has earned his stripes and is now officially one of them.
We give Juan Williams an unregrettable shove off the poopdeck.