Friday, October 22, 2010

Juan Williams: NPR Worse than Nixon

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After watching Bill O’Reilly lead an hour of NPR-bashing on Fox News Thursday night, it’s tempting to say that the right’s reaction to the Juan Williams firing is just a tad overblown.

But it’s not. This was a blunder of enormous proportions. Even many liberals—Donna Brazile, Joan Walsh, Whoopi Goldberg—are castigating National Public Radio for throwing Williams overboard.

NPR Chief Executive Vivian Schiller—dubbed a “pinhead” by O’Reilly—made matters

worse by suggesting that Williams needs psychiatric attention. She later apologized. John Boehner, who may well be the next House Speaker, told National Review that it’s “reasonable to ask why Congress is spending taxpayers’ money to support a left-wing radio network.”

And in a triumph of awful timing, yesterday was the day that NPR announced a new grant—$1.8 million from liberal philanthropist George Soros to hire 100 new reporters. No news organization should accept that kind of check from a committed ideologue of any stripe. Even if every journalist hired with the cash from Soros’ foundation is fair and balanced, to coin a phrase, the perception is terrible. (This New York Times story didn’t even mention Soros’ liberal views. The guy just gave a million bucks to Media Matters. Hello?) Oh, and NPR is in the midst of a fundraising drive. Good luck with that. Even Sarah Palin, who’s also on the Fox payroll, has gotten into the act, tweeting: “NPR defends First Amendment Right, but will fire u if u exercise it. Juan Williams: u got taste of Left’s hypocrisy, they screwed up firing you.” There are plenty of opinions flying around about NPR's decision to fire Juan Williams. The Washington Post editorialized against NPR's decision, arguing in part that Williams "undoubtedly spoke for many Americans who are wrestling with similar feelings" about seeing Muslims in airports. (Williams was worried primarily about those in "Muslim garb.") Former Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, now at the Daily Beast website, called it a "blunder of enormous proportions."

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