Nina Totenberg is still broadcasting for National Public Radio – despite her suggestion that the late U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms and his grandchild should die of AIDS.
By astounding and outrageous contrast to the toleration of Totenberg, NPR has fired its 10-year news analyst Juan Williams – because he told Bill O’Reilly on TV’s “The O’Reilly Factor”:
“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.”
Williams went on to warn against blaming all Muslims as “extremists,” saying, “Christians shouldn’t be blamed for the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh.”
A Washington Post lead editorial was headlined, “Rush to judgment: In firing Juan Williams, NPR discourages honest conversation,” and it noted:
“NPR, a radio network supported by federal grants and private contributions, said in a statement that those comments ‘were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.’
“Mr. Williams then alluded to a declaration of war against America by convicted Times Square bomber Feisal Shahzad, and he added: ‘I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts.’ …
“Mr. Williams was attempting to do exactly what a reasonable commentator should do: Speak honestly without being inflammatory. His reward was to lose his job …”
The Post also reported in its news section: “The flap over Williams produced its own subsidiary flap on Thursday when NPR’s chief executive, Vivian Schiller, told an audience at the Atlanta Press Club that Williams should have kept his feelings about Muslims between himself and ‘his psychiatrist or his publicist.’
“Schiller later released a statement reading, ‘I spoke hastily, and I apologized to Juan and others for my thoughtless remark.’”
Schiller came to NPR from the New York Times.
The Washington Post reported, “The federal government provides roughly 15 percent of the revenue of public radio and TV stations, although less than 2 percent of NPR’s annual budget is directly subsidized by tax monies. The rest comes from corporate underwriting, foundation grants and programming fees from hundreds of NPR member stations. These stations, in turn, receive direct financial support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the entity set up by Congress in 1967 to pass federal funds to stations.”
The firing of Juan Williams evoked a rare editorial-page agreement in both the Washington Post and the Washington Times, whose headline was “Cut off NPR: Public radio fires distinguished journalist for recognizing Muslim threat.”
Included in the Washington Times editorial were the following:
“Respected National Public Radio analyst Juan Williams lost his job this week for offending liberal orthodoxy. On the bright side, no one can ever again defend NPR as being fair and balanced. This experiment in taxpayer-supported broadcasting must be put out to pasture. … The firing looks even more suspicious coming as it does hard on the heels of a $1.8 million grant from ultraliberal sock puppeteer George Soros. …
“NPR’s persistent liberal bias raises the question of why the government is in the business of promoting such enterprises. Rationale that created public broadcasting more than 40 years ago – the then lack of available education on public service programming – has been overcome by technological innovations unforeseen at that time. Blue-state America has MSNBC for news; it doesn’t need NPR. When the new Congress begins the process of cutting wasteful government programs, public broadcasting should be high on the list.”
The New York Times’ Page 1 story reported John Boehner of Ohio, House Republican leader, told National Review Online, “I think it’s reasonable to ask why Congress is spending taxpayers’ money to support a left-wing radio network – and in the wake of Juan Williams’ firing, it’s clearer than ever that’s what NPR is.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., said on Fox News on Thursday that Congress should investigate NPR over the episode and “consider cutting off their money.” The Times reported: “Forty-one percent of NPR’s revenue comes from member-station programming fees and dues. These stations receive $90 million in federal funds each year.”
Former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee declared: “It’s time for the taxpayers to start making cuts in federal spending. I encourage the new Congress to start with NPR.” He added that he would no longer appear on NPR shows because of the Williams firing.
Sarah Palin commented, “NPR defends First Amendment rights, but will fire you if you exercise it.” On the good side of this otherwise bad news regarding First Amendment rights on television, Fox News on Thursday awarded Williams a new, multiyear contract worth nearly $2 million and will expand his role on the cable news channel and its website. In a statement that indirectly referenced his firing by NPR, Fox News Chief Roger Ailes called Williams “an honest man whose freedom of speech is protected by Fox News on a daily basis.”
Juan Williams noted in a statement that he “was fired for telling the truth.” And he went on to note:
“Well, now that I no longer work for NPR, let me give you my opinion. This is an outrageous violation of journalistic standards and ethics by management that has no use for a diversity of opinion, ideas or a diversity of staff. (I was the only black male on the air.) This is evidence of one-party rule and one-sided thinking at NPR that leads to enforced ideology, speech and writing. It leads to people, especially journalists, being sent to the gulag for raising the wrong questions and displaying independence of thought.”