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The Politically Correct Lynching of Juan Williams

Written by John Leonard

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As most people on the planet know by now, Juan Williams was fired by NPR radio for comments he made on The O’Reilly Factor.   He merely expressed his personal opinion.  In the post-September 11th world and after the recent failed Christmas Day bomber and the failed attack at Times Square, it is understandable to some degree to see why men of Middle Eastern descent dressed in traditional Muslim clothing could cause concern boarding an airplane.  Juan lost his long-standing contract with NPR as a result.

juan_goneSomeone of my political mindset might say to himself: No big deal.  Juan is liberal.  But ask yourself this question: What if this had been me?  What if I lost my job due to political correctness?

Besides, Juan is liberal, but fair.

 After his termination with prejudice – after all, Juan wasn’t even given the courtesy of a meeting with his long time employer to defend himself -- he received news of his termination via phone call from Ellen Weiss, NPR Senior Vice President for News. 

She said this has already been decided up the chain.  I said, “I don’t even get the chance to come in and meet eyeball-to-eyeball, person to person, have a conversation?  I’ve been here more than ten years!  And we don’t even have a chance to have a conversation about this?”  And she said, “There’s nothing you can say that will change my mind.  This has already been decided above me, and we’re terminating your contract. [1]

Then NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller unintentionally revealed her true motivations for his dismissal when she said,

“This is not a reflection on his comments.  This is not a debate.  You know, Juan feels the way he feels.  This is not for me to pass judgment on him, that is, really his feelings that he expressed on Fox News are between him and his psychiatrist or his publicist, take your pick.  But it is not compatible with the role of a news analyst on NPR.” [2]

Though NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepherd opined that the firing of Juan Williams had been poorly handled by management, she betrayed the cultural bias obviously rampant at NPR and hinted at the real reason for his firing.  She described her emails from supporters by saying:

Many have been troubled over the years by the dual role that Williams has played: balanced news analyst on NPR; more opinionated pundit on Fox. [3]

Balanced like…Nina Totenberg? 

Ay, there’s the rub…Juan Williams gives credibility to the Fox News claim of being “Fair and Balanced.”  Night after night, Juan dutifully presents the left counterpoint to the analysis offered by panelists from the right side of the political spectrum.

If Juan Williams deviates even slightly from the party line, he gets viciously attacked by those on the radical left.  As this report by Mark Finkelstein from NewsBusters.org illustrates, when O’Reilly Factor guest Warren Ballantine incorrectly attributed the origin of the “Barack the Magic Negro” parody to Rush Limbaugh, Juan astutely pointed out that the phrase itself was coined by a black newspaper columnist.  Ballantine responded by insulting Williams, telling him to “go back to the porch” like any other good “Uncle Tom”, completely ignoring the fact that Williams was right and he was wrong about the origin of the phrase.

Ballantine also suggested that Limbaugh wrote and performed the parody. Paul Shanklin writes and performs all the parody songs played on the show.  But who cares about the details if you’re on the  side of “consensus” opinion regarding political correctness?

To illustrate the hypocritical double-standard of the powers-that-be at National Public Radio, Bret Baier quoted NPR Correspondent (as in “reporter”) Nina Totenberg [4] from 1995 as saying about Jesse Helms:

I think he ought to be worried about what’s going on in the Good Lord’s mind because if there is a retributive justice he’ll get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will.

Steven Hayes of The Weekly Standard cited several more recent examples of Nina Totenberg displaying what he described not as bias or political correctness but partisanship, all uttered within the last four weeks on Inside Washington.  He said,   

Nina Totenberg is an NPR Correspondent, not an Analyst, which suggests some blending of fact and opinion, but a correspondent.  She’s a reporter.  And she’s on a show in Washington, Charles [Krauthammer] is on as well called Inside Washington, and over the last four weeks she’s said the following:  that Michelle Obama makes voters feel quote “warm and fuzzy”, that Bill Clinton was the most gifted politician she’s ever seen, that the Supreme Court ruling she covered in Citizens United was outrageous, scandalous, and could lead to another Watergate, and the one that I find most outrageous of all, in a discussion about tax cuts, extending the tax cuts she said about the thirty one Democrats who sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi saying they wanted to extend the Bush tax cuts for everybody.  Nina Totenberg said that she lamented the diversity in the Democratic Party.  She said that when you have a huge majority, you have huge diversity.  And that is part of the problem that Democrats have.  Would I like it to be otherwise?  Of course. [5]

So would we all, Nina. But not in the way you mean.  We want to turn that huge majority into a minority for the simple reason that the majority of the American people dislike Big Government.  Most of us don’t want the government telling us how to think.

Hayes added,

The Corporation of Public Broadcasting, which is the parent corporation of NPR, has requested $495 million dollars for the fiscal year for 2014.  In a world where we’re running a thirteen trillion dollar debt and you’ve got 600 satellite channels and you can watch poodle grooming on five of them at any given time, there’s absolutely no excuse for taking taxpayer funds for taxpayer-funded television.

Indeed.  The next time I see Nina Totenberg on television, I’ll be reaching for my remote control.  It will be time to catch up on my poodle-grooming skills….and I don’t even own a poodle.

 In today’s 24-hour news stream, the distinction between factual reporting, interpretive analysis and subjective commentary is hard to find on any of the major outlets, whether we are talking about Fox News, CNN or NPR.  By firing Juan Williams for alledgedly blurring the line by describing his personal feelings when a passenger in traditional Muslim dress boards a plane, NPR unintentionally turned the spotlight on themselves. 

That scrutiny is bringing attention to how NPR selectively enforces their objective-versus-subjective reporting standards.  NPR management has so far been unable to explain why blatantly liberal commentary is acceptable, but a simple, true statement of a personal reaction to a real event is not. 

In fact, the initial cause for Mr. Williams’ dismissal was being reworded, rewritten and obfuscated before the day was up.  NPR realized too late that their hypocrisy was so easy to illustrate.  The spotlight was already on and shining not only on their left-leaning content, but on the hard to answer question of why this country still funds public broadcasting.  If funding public broadcasting is both necessary and desirable, why is it being done selectively in support of blatantly liberal journalism? 

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John Leonard can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  He is the Atlanta Creationism writer for examiner.com.  His first book, titled Divine Evolution:a hybrid theory reconciling Creationism and Evolution is available through his website and Amazon.com.

 

[1] Juan Williams interview on Happening Now with Jon Scott and Jenna Lee

[2] video of Vivian Schiller speaking to Press in Atlanta, aired on Fox Report with Bret Baier 10/21/10

[3] NPR Ombudsman article titled “NPR’s Firing of Juan Williams was poorly handled”

[4] Nina Totenberg appearing on Inside Washington, July 8, 1995, quoted by Bret Baier on 10/21/10

[5] Stephen Hayes on Fox Report with Bret Baier 10/21/10

 

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