When I began graduate school in 1984, I discovered Bob Edwards and Morning Edition and in the evening All Things Considered.  I found their in-depth reporting informative and perceptive.  Over the years I have continued to listen.  I have regularly contributed to National Public Radio (NPR).  I have also been aware that NPR had a progressive slant to their news, although in recent years that has been less prominent.  

As all know this past week NPR fired long time commentator Juan Williams.  I have always admired Juan Williams.  His analysis has alway been good, and his insights into the African-American experience enlightening.  Juan Williams, although liberal, was willing from time to time to question orthodoxy.  Recently while appearing on Bill O’Reilly’s show he made a comment of being fearful when he saw Arabs/Muslims getting on an airplane.  For this NPR fired him.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I see an Arab or Muslim getting on an airplane I too am fearful.  This I believe is a natural reaction to what happen on 9/11.  Juan Williams, I believe, was expressing a fear many have.

NPR firing of Juan Williams is clearly wrong.  The worst part of it was he was fired over the phone.

Many conservatives are calling for end to federal funding of the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB) who in turn funds NPR.  Given the recent actions by NPR they many be on to something.

I also have to wonder if the leadership of CPB/NPR are ham fisted.  They are clearly aware of the looming moves to radically cut the Federal Budget, my guess is they have just given a good reason that they will be the first to see their budget zeroed out.

2 thoughts on “Is It Time for NPR to Go?

  1. What you are leaving out of your article above is that Juan Williams has (for maybe 2-3 years?) been working as a commentator for Fox News (whom those of who actually remember what “fair and balanced” means now refer to as “Faux News”). I think all can agree that Fox News has “slant”.
    In 2009, NPR asked Fox to stop identifying Williams as an “NPR Host” (which he no longer was).
    Frankly, I think he’s got a problem with Muslims. Take what he said, and substitute whatever minority you want for “Muslim”, and ask him how he’d feel if that were blabbed n national TV by a supposedly non-partisan, neutral news analyst.
    He’s no long a neutral, non-partisan news analyst (and the fact that FNC immediately hired him proves that), and he doesn’t belong on NPR.
    And yes, I used to admire him, too. Right now, he seems to be in the business of scaring people. So’s FOX. The fit is perfect.

    • Julian, for the sake of brevity I did not include the Fox piece, which I admit was an oversight and is germane to the whole question. The problem I have with the whole thing is why he was fired. He said nothing that many Americans think every time they get on an airplane. Recently I had to help mediate a situation where guest of the United States Government who were Muslim, were kicked off their final flight of three over 33 hours, when one remarked he hoped this was his last flight. A passenger overheard the remark and off they went. It took several days to get it all sorted out and people’s feeling soothed.

      I don’t like Fox because of its slant, however they do have their token liberal/progressives. Just as NPR should have differing voices and opinions. Freedom of speech is not freedom of speech I like rather it is freedom of speech whether I agree or disagree with it. While freedom of speech is not absolute it is pretty damn close. As Justice Holmes said, it doesn’t give you the right to falsely yell fire in a crowded theater. Juan Williams did not cross the line.

      If NPR wanted to let him go because of his Fox work that is fine, but they need to let Mara Liasson if she won’t quit her gig at Fox.

      Even if NPR was right to fire Juan Williams, they handled it very poorly. All they have done is play right into the hands of the Republicans and Tea Party types who will take great pleasure in going after their public funding, paltry as it is.

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