NPR’s boneheaded firing of news analyst Juan Williams opens the spigot for attacks that public radio is too liberal and way-over-the-top of the political correctness front. [Full Disclosure: NPR is my favorite morning radio station.]
Williams got the boot because he spoke honestly about his feelings upon seeing people wearing Muslim garb at an airport. He gets nervous. Big deal!
As long as Williams doesn’t spread widespread panic among fellow travelers, who cares?
In swinging the ax, NPR CEO Vivian Schiller emailed to member stations that “news analysts may not take personal public positions on controversial issues; doing so undermines their credibility as analysts, and that what’s happened in this situation.” Those words are hollow. What’s the controversy in jitters over Arab clothing at airports?
Williams says his airport worries began after 9/11. In his remarks Monday on “The O’Reilly Factor,” he made it clear that saying all Arabs are extremists is like saying that all Christians are terrorists because homegrown, Jesus-fearing bomber Timothy McVeigh blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City. It’s also a struggle to see how Williams’ feelings undermine his credibility, unless he’s analyzing airport security or Muslim fashion.
Schiller should come down from her ivory tower and ask travelers if they shared Williams’ nervousness. She would be surprised.
Schiller, who dumped Williams via a statement last night (didn’t the long-time staffer deserve a face-to-face session?), piled on today. She told the Atlanta Press Club that Williams should keep his Muslims between himself and “his psychiatrist or his publicist.” Publicist, how so Vivian?
Right-wingers are already on the march, expressing outrage over “censorship” at NPR. Fox News employee and potential Presidential candidate Mick Huckabee wants the new Congress, which he expects to have a Republican majority, to strip funding. U.S., state and local government fund accounts for 5.8 percent of NPR’s funding. Individuals kick in 32.1 percent and corporations fund 21.1 percent. The always Tweetable Sarah Palin, a rival of The Huck for the GOP nod, says NPR defends the First Amendment right to free speech, but “will fire u if u exercise it. Juan Williams: u got taste of Left’s hypocrisy, they screwed up firing you.”
Schiller tossed red meat to the Republicans, as if they needed more momentum going into the midterm elections. In firing Williams, she overreacted. Schiller should apologize and offer Williams his old job back. Of course, Juan, 56, has a bright future at Fox News. He just might tell Vivian to “get lost.”