Juan Williams: outrage machine cranking up! (and it should)

Juan Williams wasn’t fired from NPR for saying what he said. He was fired from NPR for saying what he said while being a journalist.

He spent too much time at FOX and it caused him to forget that it’s not about him.

(Just like Rick Sanchez wasn’t fired from CNN for insulting Jon Stewart. He was fired from CNN for saying Jews control the media and CNN. This stuff shouldn’t be hard.)

I bet Rush’s blood pressure is through the roof!

(Full disclosure: I wouldn’t have fired Williams. I think it was overreaction. I would however have fired Sanchez. He broke all the rules.)

UPDATE: Apparently Williams was fired based on violating Section 5, Subsection 10 of the NPR Ethics Code. Here it is. Seems to me one could point to many NPR journos who’ve violated this thing.

10. In appearing on TV or other media including electronic Web-based forums, NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist. They should not participate in shows electronic forums, or blogs that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis.

15 responses to “Juan Williams: outrage machine cranking up! (and it should)

  1. Ms. Holland,

    I’m sure you can imagine which side of the issue I come down on. That aside, this was an extremely stupid thing for NPR to do just in it’s own self interest. Republicans have always felt that NPR was biased left. In a time of strained national budgets, the Right are questioning why taxpayers should be giving NPR hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Depending just how much power Republicans actually gain in November, they will be looking for targets to exercise their perceived mandate to get government spending under control. NPR just put themselves on the radar screen. They had better have powerful friends left in Congress.


    • Something we agree on – almost. NPR was wrong on this one. I see a lot of overreaction out there these days; it’s like people are much thinner skinned than they used to be.

      As for NPR itself, I consider it an essential part of our national life. It’s funding from pubic sources has gone down a lot in the last few decades; but private donations and corporate underwriters have largely thought not entirely filled the gap. That Kroc gift (McConalds) of $225 million made a huge difference for them and came at just the right time. Today they get just over 16% of their budget directly from Federal Budget, but also get indirect gov’t support (grants, subsidized use of universtiy airwaves etc)

      An interesting bit from the NPR wiki:

      Allegations of liberal bias
      A 2005 study conducted by researchers at UCLA and the University of Missouri found that NPR leans left. Its score is approximately equal to those of Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report and its score is slightly more conservative than The Washington Post’s.”[27] It found NPR to be more liberal than the average U.S. voter of the time of the study and more conservative than the average U.S. Democrat of the time. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a progressive media watchdog group,[28] disputes the claim of a liberal bias.[29]

      Allegations of conservative bias
      A December 2005 column run by NPR ombudsman and former Vice President Jeffrey Dvorkin denied allegations by some listeners that NPR relies heavily on conservative think-tanks[30]. In his column, Dvorkin listed the number of times NPR had cited experts from conservative and liberal think tanks in the previous year as evidence. The totals were 239 for conservative think tanks, and 141 for liberal ones. He noted that while the number of times liberal think tanks were cited was less, in addition to think tanks the liberal point of view is commonly provided by academics.

      In 2003, some critics accused NPR of being supportive of the invasion of Iraq.[31][32]


  2. NPR was too quick to act. They showed their as reactionary as those who claim liberal media bias.

    You can’t move forward fighting old wars.



    • They also handed their critics a lovely piece of ammunition which will be used against them – and probably very effectively. And they make FOX News the victim. Bad all around.


  3. Ms. Holland,

    The old saying goes ” perception is reality “. All of those studies you cited are totally wasted on a Conservative, such as myself. Npr is perceived by us as extremely biased, rather like the BBC. When Republicans gain power Npr will have a bulls eye on it. I personally have never paid attention to Npr, but I know the arguments my side will make. The main one being, in this modern environment of overwhelming private sector media, why is Npr essential? Why not let it sink or swim in the market place ?

    These are the arguments your side will have to fight in Congress. If Npr would just stay out of politics it would not be at the mercy of every political change in Washington.


    • This has always mystified me – how is NPR (and the BBC fer elvis’ sake!) liberal?


    • Alan – there is considerable LESS private media today. Cities used to have three and four dailies, some with two additions. All of them had professional reporters (not commenters) working thier beats. They assigned reporters to every department of government and it was their full time job to report on that department. We have absolutelyl nothing like that today and it’s a loss to our civic life. Even NPR doesn’t do that granted, but my point is to refute the idea of more rather than less media today.

      [ If Npr would just stay out of politics ] How can a news organizataion stay out of politics? Are they supposed to report only on everthing else? Like Entertainment tongiht? Cuz everything else IS politics.


  4. Ms. Holland,

    Again, I don’t even know how to find an NPR station. Don’t know if I’ve ever listened to them, however as the man says , ” follow the money ” .

    ” This has always mystified me – how is NPR (and the BBC fer elvis’ sake!) liberal? ”
    You know of course that George Soros ‘is’ the Anti Christ to my side. Georgie just gave $1.8 million to NPR. If they were not to the left of Mao Tse Tung, he would have sent that money elsewhere. Or so I’ve imagined. 🙂


    • So George Soros just gave 1.8 mil to NPR. Good for him. And the Krocs? The McDonald’s people gavef $225 million, leaving ole George’s donation way behind. Are you perceiving a Big Mac bias in NPR?

      AGain – that two hundred and twenty five million! Dollars!


  5. After taking a few days to think this through, I’d like to comment on this one. But first, by way of background and full disclosure, I am a Republican (what money manager isn’t????).
    Here in the NYC area NPR is basically one of only four stations that I listen to with any regularity. I really value it and would miss it terribly if it were to cease to exist.
    I listen to NPR because I seek different viewpoints that cause me to examine and test my own thinking and conclusions on the issues involved.
    I don’t listen to FOX news (or MSNBC for that matter) because I don’t want others doing my thinking for me. Nor do I want to become artificially reinforced in my viewpoint(s) by only listening to ‘opinion news’ stories from others that already share my views. To do so only serves to potentially narrow, rather than expand, my horizons.
    I certainly enjoyed listening to Juan Williams’ reporting on NPR and will miss him. That having been said, I believe that NPR made the correct decision in terminating his contract.
    Or, perhaps more specifically, in forcing him to make a choice (assuming he ever had the choice). That is to say, what I don’t fully understand in reading about this issue is why he and others were/are allowed to be on the payroll of multiple employers (in his case NPR and FOX). It seems to me an inherent conflict of interest, particularly given the differences between the way in which NPR and FOX view news reporting.
    Being a freelance journalist is one thing; being closely associated (e.g., as an employee) with the views of the network(s) is something else.
    In my profession, it would be like being employed by a private bank while simultaneously working for the Federal Reserve (whoops, better not go much further in painting myself into THAT corner).
    Now that Mr. Williams has elected (or been compelled) to represent ‘opinion broadcasting’ I have to (sadly) put him into the bin of ‘those who would do my thinking for me.’
    …Thanks for letting me comment.


    • I think the conflict of interest point is an important one that’s been left out of this story – by me as well. The most egregious example of this has been Howard Kurtz, who was simultaneously the Media Critic for both The Washington Post and CNN. Remarkably, Mr. Kurtz never bashed his ‘other employer’ in either role. It was simply astonishing that people accepted this!

      By the way, this liberal used to watch MSNBC sometimes when they were a straight news network. Then Olbermann joined them during the Bush administration, and it became a thrill for those of us who were looking for it, to finally hear some Bush bashing and I spent more time watching. Cheap I know, but it felt good. And it was novel and it was actually fun.

      But once the network realized they had actually found a niche and they filled out their hours with a bunch of Olbermann wannabes, it got old – fast.

      I used to watch one show on FOX, a media watch show, and it was pretty good, but I think they canned the host and reformatted it so it became like all the other FOX shows. And I still tune into MSNBC sometimes, though not often.

      I think CNN does a very poor job, so I skip them mostly, which leaves print, internet, PBS News Hour and the BBC. And NPR. The big three networks have ceasesd being real news organizations although their anchors continue to be treated as stars in the media universe. I think they’ll be out of hte running soon.

      Most people (not the young though!) get their news on TV, so the new partisan nature of cable serves us ill.


      • Many years ago when I first watched Lou Dobbs I thought he had the potential to be the next Cronkite or Murrow. Talk about naivete!

        But more importantly, watching his metamorphosis over time has taught me a lot about how viewers can be systematically and incrementally conditioned to gradually accept that ‘opinion reporting’ is the same as ‘unbiased reporting.’

        I think the opening scene in “Good Night and Good Luck” pretty well sums up Edward R. Murrow’s uncanny prediction of what news reporting would become.


        • Interesting that you mentioned Dobbs – I pretty much had the same experience – when he went from business to news, he was quite good and did a bit of muckraking. Then he started the illegal aliens mantra and a story about traffic in NYC somehow became about illegals. Too bad.


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