I’d like to take credit for the title of this post, but I borrowed it from Bill Kristol. NPR, an media entity that gets as much as 15% of its funding from the federal government, fired Senior News Analyst Juan Williams for a comment he made while on “The O’Reilly Factor.”
Williams, who is also a Fox News Contributor (meaning that he gets paid to make on air appearances), is well known for his weekly appearances on “Fox News Sunday” and his books about the civil rights movement. While on O’Reilly’s program, he said something that got him fired. I’ll let Bill Kristol, who appears with Mr. Williams on “Fox News Sunday,” explain:
Juan was appearing on Bill O’Reilly’s show Monday night, when O’Reilly asserted, “The cold truth is that in the world today jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet.” Juan didn’t disagree with this claim.Would President Obama, for example, disagree? I don’t think so. Isn’t this why, for example, we are fighting a war to prevent jihadists from re-establishing a terror base in Afghanistan? (It’s a war, by the way, that Juan happens to oppose.) But do the powers-that-be at NPR really think that jihadists, especially if aided by state sponsors, are not a serious threat? Do the powers-that-be at NPR think their analysts shouldn’t be allowed to say they are?
Juan cited the words of the Times Square bomber: “He said the war with Muslims, America’s war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts.” Do the powers-that-be at NPR deny that jihadists have made countless comments of this sort? Are NPR analysts not allowed to cite them?
Juan also commented, “I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I’ve 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.” (emphasis mine)
NPR asserted that “His remarks on The O’Reilly Factor this past Monday were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.”
I guess they didn’t like that he was honest about how he feels in the presence of die-hard Muslims, head-scarf and all. But did they take Williams’ remarks out of context? Judge for yourself, after viewing the entire conversation:
It appears to me that Mr. Williams was “Shirley Sherroded.” Like Ms. Sherrod, who was fired from her USDA post after part of a speech she gave seemed to indicate that she discriminated against a white farmer, Juan Williams was fired before the employers actually looked at the remarks in context. Just like the context showed that Ms. Sherrod did not discriminate against a white farmer, the full video, embedded above, indicates that Juan was not “muslim-bashing” or acting in a bigoted manner. I won’t go as far as Mike Huckabee, who is calling on Congress to defund NPR, but I do believe that NPR acted recklessly.
However, NPR management has every right to fire Williams, which is why I think defunding NPR for this reason alone would be a mistake. Personally, I think NPR should be completely privatized and allowed to compete within the media marketplace, which is a better reason than this Williams debacle to defund the elitist news organization.
It is no secret that NPR was uncomfortable with Mr. Williams’ duel employment between NPR and Fox. In a way, this could be like the Rick Sanchez firing, in that management took advantage of an unfortunate situation to get rid of an unappreciated and unwanted employee. In closing, here is Juan Williams’ reaction from an interview earlier today: