Archive for Saturday, October 23, 2010

NPR gets earful from listeners on Williams firing

October 23, 2010


— NPR and its public radio stations around the country got an earful from listeners and angry citizens in the middle of pledge season Friday over its firing of commentator Juan Williams, receiving thousands of complaints and scattered threats to withhold donations.

Still, a number of major stations said they are meeting or surpassing their fundraising goals in the wake of the furor over Williams’ dismissal for saying he gets nervous on a plane when he sees Muslims.

“We find ourselves kind of caught between NPR and the audience,” said Craig Curtis, program director at KPCC in Pasadena, Calif., which won’t hold its pledge drive until next month. He said the station had received about 150 comments on the firing, mostly disapproving, and three people asked to cancel their memberships.

Meanwhile, conservative leaders including Sarah Palin are calling on Congress to cut off NPR’s federal funding — an idea that was also raised in the 1990s and didn’t get very far.

Williams was fired Wednesday over comments he made on “The O’Reilly Factor” on the Fox News Channel, his other employer.

On Friday, Williams said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that NPR had been “looking for a reason to get rid of me” for some time because its executives disapproved of his appearances on Fox.

NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller held a staff meeting Friday to discuss a recent union agreement and said management was standing by its decision, spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm in Washington said. Schiller acknowledged that NPR didn’t handle the firing perfectly and executives would review their process, Rehm said.

Williams kept up his criticism of NPR as guest host of “The O’Reilly Factor” on Friday night, mentioning several remarks by other NPR commentators that didn’t result in firings. Williams noted that commentator Nina Totenberg said on a political talk show 15 years ago that if there is “retributive justice,” former Republican North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms or one of his grandchildren will get AIDS from a transfusion. Helms was a polarizing figure who fought against the civil rights movement.

NPR spokeswoman Anna Christopher said Totenberg repeatedly apologized for her comments.

Veronica Richardson, 38, a paralegal from Raleigh, N.C., said the firing revealed that NPR had a “political agenda.” She said she would stop listening and donating to her local station, WUNC-FM in Chapel Hill.

“I think it’s unfair to fire someone for a comment that was innocuous to begin with. It’s how many people feel,” said Richardson, who describes herself as a libertarian.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said he will introduce legislation to end federal funding for public radio and television.

“Once again, we find the only free speech liberals support is the speech with which they agree,” he said in a statement. “With record debt and unemployment, there’s simply no reason to force taxpayers to subsidize a liberal programming they disagree with.”

NPR radio stations are independently owned and operated and, like the nation’s public TV stations, receive government funding through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which got about $420 million this year from Washington.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

The real danger from NPR's firing of Juan Williams BY GLENN GREENWALD

"I'm still not quite over the most disgusting part of the Juan Williams spectacle yesterday: watching the very same people (on the Right and in the media) who remained silent about or vocally cheered on the viewpoint-based firings of Octavia Nasr, Helen Thomas, Rick Sanchez, Eason Jordan, Peter Arnett, Phil Donahue, Ashleigh Banfield, Bill Maher, Ward Churchill, Chas Freeman, Van Jones and so many others, spend all day yesterday wrapping themselves in the flag of "free expression!!!" and screeching about the perils and evils of firing journalists for expressing certain viewpoints. Even for someone who expects huge doses of principle-free hypocrisy -- as I do -- that behavior is really something to behold. And anyone doubting that there is a double standard when it comes to anti-Muslim speech should just compare the wailing backlash from most quarters over Williams' firing to the muted acquiescence or widespread approval of those other firings.

But there's one point from all of this I really want to highlight. The principal reason the Williams firing resonated so much and provoked so much fury is that it threatens the preservation of one of the most important American mythologies: that Muslims are a Serious Threat to America and Americans. That fact is illustrated by a Washington Post Op-Ed today from Reuel Marc Gerecht, who is as standard and pure a neocon as exists: an Israel-centric, Iran-threatening, Weekly Standard and TNR writer, former CIA Middle East analyst, former American Enterprise Institute and current Defense of Democracies "scholar," torture advocate, etc. etc. Gerecht hails Williams as a courageous "dissident" for expressing this "truth":

'[W]hile his manner may have been clumsy, Williams was right to suggest that there is a troubling nexus between the modern Islamic identity and the embrace of terrorism as a holy act.'


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago


"Above all else, this fear-generating "nexus" is what must be protected at all costs. This is the "troubling" connection -- between Muslims and terrorism -- that Williams lent his "liberal," NPR-sanctioned voice to legitimizing. And it is this fear-sustaining, anti-Muslim slander that NPR's firing of Williams threatened to delegitimize. That is why NPR's firing of Williams must be attacked with such force: because if it were allowed to stand, it would be an important step toward stigmatizing anti-Muslim animus in the same way that other forms of bigotry are now off-limits, and that, above all else, is what cannot happen, because anti-Muslim animus is too important to too many factions to allow it to be delegitimized. The Huffington Post's Jason Linkins explained the real significance of NPR's actions, the real reason it had to be attacked:

'Yesterday, NPR cashiered correspondent Juan Williams for doing something that had hitherto never been considered an offense in media circles: defaming Muslims. Up until now, you could lose your job for saying intemperate things about Jews and about Christians and about Matt Drudge. You could even lose a job for failing to defame Muslims. But we seem to be in undiscovered country at the moment.' "

for the rest of the article

Majestic42 7 years, 7 months ago

Hey merrill, I didn't realize you changed your name!

jmadison 7 years, 7 months ago

Schiller on Thursday said that Williams should have kept his feelings about Muslims between himself, "his psychiatrist or his publicist". NPR=thought police.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

So what do you think of "the viewpoint-based firings of Octavia Nasr, Helen Thomas, Rick Sanchez, Eason Jordan, Peter Arnett, Phil Donahue, Ashleigh Banfield, Bill Maher, Ward Churchill, Chas Freeman, Van Jones...."

jumpin_catfish 7 years, 7 months ago

ward churchill is a shining example of liberal nutjob.

Majestic42 7 years, 7 months ago

That is the worst part of this. A CEO of a internationally respected new agency takes an inappropriate and superpublic crack at an internationally respected newsman because she doesn't agree with him. And insults his intelligence/sanity to boot. Charming.

equalaccessprivacy 7 years, 7 months ago

The comment you quote is extremely tacky,unprofessional, and ill-advised. Juan Williams was serving two masters though, which often causes a clash of interests and values, especially when it's NPR and Fox.

equalaccessprivacy 7 years, 7 months ago

My bad for not citing your majestic blogger presence

Majestic42 7 years, 7 months ago

...still don't know what you mean. Was your comment about something being tacky and unprofessional to me or jmadison?

Majestic42 7 years, 7 months ago

Sorry. I gotcha. Had to reread your comment a few times (cuz it's late and my head didn't get screwed on right this morning), but I get what you were sayin. Disregard my 10:58pm comment.

fancy80 7 years, 7 months ago

jsthefacts, yes facts are facts. However, when you present some facts and withhold other facts, you don't get the whole story.
If you aren't in agreement with de-funding NPR, then about creating another NPR that only presents the facts that back up the conservative view? I would prefer that NPR present ALL the facts, not just the ones that back up the liberal view.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

And thus the right wing opens another front on their war to control all media.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

"Glad, hope they go under."

Any reasons for that, aside from your own desire for censorship?

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

Indeed, it is the "public option" of radio programming. Socialism right there on our public airwaves!! (or does Rupert own them now too?)

Morning Edition and All Things Considered were the second and third most popular radio shows from 2002-2008, providing a service the private market just won't provide: quality new programming.

Anyway, is NPR vs. Michael Savage really even a competition?

Flap Doodle 7 years, 7 months ago

But it was okay for Nina Totenberg to express the hope that god gives AIDS to Jesse Helms' grandchildren?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

The difference is that Totenberg apologized for her remarks, repeatedly, and she didn't moonlight on Fox where she made a career of stupid remarks.

Majestic42 7 years, 7 months ago

You think that Williams should apologize for his remarks?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

Not my call. As far as I'm concerned, it's just one of the many ridiculous statements he's made over the years. I don't think he should have been fired over it. But, then again, I never understood why he lasted as long as he did at NPR. HIs stint hosting Talk of the Nation should have been downright embarrassing both to him and to NPR.

Majestic42 7 years, 7 months ago

One of the main problems with this debacle is that the CEO obviously did not listen to all of his statements. He went on to have quite the discussion will ol' Bill about the 9/11 terrorists being Muslim extremists, and how all Muslims were NOT terrorists. It's selective hearing at it's finest.

notaubermime 7 years, 7 months ago

That's not even factually correct. Nowhere has she said that she hopes that Jesse Helms' grandchildren get AIDS.

The actual situation was that at that time (1995) Jesse Helms had made several statements claiming that AIDS was God's retribution on gay people and that every case of AIDS in the US could be traced to sodomy. He used those statements as justification for trying to block funding of AIDS research and treatment. Nina Totenberg said in a clearly satirical remark that if there was a God who engaged in retribution, then that God would infect Helms and his grandchildren with AIDS through a blood transfusion.

A satirical remark does not equal making a bigoted statement in any way shape or form. Well, that is unless you actually think that Jonathan Swift really wanted to eat the Irish...

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

Also, there is a difference between making a comment about a public political figure and uttering prejudiced remarks about an entire group of people. Thus, "Sarah Palin is a disgusting publicity whore too lazy to live up to her obligations to Alaska's citizens" vs. "I get scared when I see black people."

fancy80 7 years, 7 months ago

  1. if you read or listened to the entire argument that Juan Williams made, instead of just a portion of it, you would realize how stupid this whole thing is. Editing is a wonderful thing.
  2. anyone can make a remark and then when the poo hits the fan, claim it was satirical.
  3. Juan Williams is one of the least bigoted people around. Good Grief.

This is just more proof that liberals are not tolerant of anyone that expresses something that they don't agree with.

I wonder if Mr. Williams had been speaking about skinheads, or any type of surpremecy group, instead of Muslims, what the reaction would have been.

notaubermime 7 years, 7 months ago

  1. I do understand exactly what Juan Williams was trying to say and I still think that he is both prejudiced against Muslims and ignorant of what that faith really means.
  2. She clearly is attacking Helms with his own arguments. That is pretty cut and dry satire.
  3. He might very well be so for most groups, but to claim that there is a "Muslim garb". There isn't. Arabs do not dress the same as Pakistanis, who do not dress the same as Africans, who do not dress the same as Malaysians. It is like claiming that there is a "Christian garb". That alone is a ridiculous claim, but to add to it that he automatically associates a particular way of dress with terrorism... Let's just hope he isn't making any trips to Qatar soon because all of those people in "Muslim garb" might just send him into a panic attack.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

Sorry, but there is no comparison between you and me, Corky.

I have no problem condemning NPR for canning Williams over this remark, even though it was stupid and reprehensible. But hypocrites like you are more than comfortable with people like Helen Thomas getting fired for comments you don't like.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

On the bright side, that means they have at least one thing in common with the tea partiers.

Jimo 7 years, 7 months ago

Imagine if Williams had said, "I get sick to my stomach every time I see some Jews insisting on dressing first and foremost all Jewy."

Sorry but it's official: you can't be a talking head on Fox without making bigoted statements (Shep Smith - you'd better think up something creative soon or its MSNBC for you. Maybe you could develop an anti-Sufi bias or something.)

beatrice 7 years, 7 months ago

Funny, I recall some conservatives on here, such as Tom S., recently advocating for companies to have the right to fire anyone at any time without cause. Now, they don't support this idea. Flip flop!

fancy80 7 years, 7 months ago

so are you in agreement with what NPR did? NPR can hire and fire anyone they choose, they have that right, but it doesn't make it right. Food for thought....if Fox had fired him for something he said on NPR, what would your reaction be?
I didn't agree with everything Mr. Williams said on Fox, but he is on there to present ideas and views from the left. There are times when he's said something that makes sense and makes you think "oh, okay...he's got something there." That's probably a concept that you aren't very familiar with, since they don't really do that on the stations you watch.

Sunny Parker 7 years, 7 months ago

Tax dollars should NOT be funding NPR period!

Armored_One 7 years, 7 months ago

He gave his opinion.

He didn't speak for NPR.

He didn't speak for any governmental agency.

He gave his opinion, someone disagreed with it, and he got fired over it. I love how everyone seems to think that Americans are completely incapable fo making their own deductions about something.

We're free to be everything but free, but for the most part, we did it to ourselves. We empowered those that are in power, regardless of political party, to become as powerful as they are.

If you aren't happy with a situation, then you have to either change it or suffer through it.

I don't personally share this person's particular view, but he's as entitled to his as I am to mine. If I was asked to give my opinion, I'd give it just as readily as this other person did.

The only reprehensible thing out of any of this is that people are saying you can have an opinion but you can't share it with anyone.

Opinions are like [insert specific body orafice]. Everybody has one, and eventually it will offend someone.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

"I don't personally share this person's particular view, but he's as entitled to his as I am to mine. If I was asked to give my opinion, I'd give it just as readily as this other person did."

Well, not exactly. Williams is certainly fully within his constitutional rights to express any opinion he likes. But the fact is that under his contract with NPR, he was prohibited from making controversial/inflammatory statements. And since the whole point of Fox News/the O'Reilly Show is to make controversial and inflammatory statements, his regular appearances there were direct and ongoing violations of his contractual agreement with NPR.

While this particular statement reflects very poorly on him, for a number of reasons, I personally don't think it should have been a fireable offense. But as NPR and Williams both acknowledge, he was mainly fired because he apparently favored working for Fox over working for NPR, and he got his wish.

Jimo 7 years, 7 months ago

" conservative leaders including Sarah Palin are calling on Congress to cut off NPR’s federal funding"

Well, we now have the first statement by the GOP on what they want to cut to balance the budget - $3 million dollars.

Only $1,373,000,000 more to go!!!!

Flap Doodle 7 years, 7 months ago

"...“So, many people are calling for the defunding of NPR – after all, why should Americans have to pay for something that's so fundamentally anti-American?” Gutfeld said. “Let's face it: They didn't fire Juan Williams for expressing an independent opinion, they fired Juan Williams for expressing an independent opinion that didn't jibe with theirs. And it was worse, because he did it on Fox News – two words that bring a pained sneer across the faces of the already contorted NPR listener..."

Read more:

fancy80 7 years, 7 months ago

let's just be thankful that it was not Fox that fired Mr. Williams for expressing an independant opinion that didn't jibe with theirs. Can you imagine the uproar?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

Glenn Greenwald totally nailed it (see linked article at top of this thread.) Right-wingers are perfectly OK with firing anybody over perceived Jew/Christian-bashing, but for them, Arab/Muslim bashing is a signature trait of a true patriot, and a core constituent of their endless fear-mongering. They must preserve that weapon at all cost, even if it means coming to the defense of a black man they'd have very recently denounced as a dreaded liberal.

Katara 7 years, 7 months ago

But I thought the Jews controlled the media?

"Yeah, very powerless people. [laughs] He's such a minority. I mean, you know, please. What—are you kidding? I'm telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart. And to imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority?" -Rick Sanchez

Aren't you supposed to be all upset about the Jewish media conspiracy too?

I need a chart or something to keep track of all these conspiracy theories.

Katara 7 years, 7 months ago

I had no idea it was all about the western whites. Do you think the eastern, southern & northern whites will be okay?

Centerville 7 years, 7 months ago

Someone over at the Freepers summed up NPR perfectly (to paraphrase): "No matter how interesting the topic could be, NPR makes it like being in a Pottery Barn, listening to the town know-it-all. Only more boring."

Oh, and apologies to Pottery Barn.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

That quote is absolutely idiotic-- but it speaks volumes about you freepers.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

Those aren't examples. Merely your unsupported (and unsupportable) characterizations.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 7 months ago

If funding is cut from NPR then corporate welfare should be cut across the board due to the large number of corporations receiving tax dollars yet spending money on special interest political campaigns aka bribe money!

Katara 7 years, 7 months ago

Since face to face is the manly way and therefore the only way (and obviously these horrid women, being female and all, could not comprehend that), I am sure you will be all over the CEOs of all the companies that layoff their employees to ensure that each individual gets a good look at the face that fires them.

Katara 7 years, 7 months ago

I would but you haven't brought me my beer or made me a sammich like a good little woman should. Get back in your kitchen.

Mike Ford 7 years, 7 months ago

NPR has journalistic standards and Fox does not. NPR attracts people with it's intellectual discussions and drives all of the archie bunkers away. NPR has fund raising drives just like all of the wingnut godlican dimwits on 88.1, 92.3, and 97.3 fm. Juan Williams is a minority face on a majority network giving his opinion to the highest bidder where journalistic standards don't matter. He couldn't bring this brand of nonsense back to a real network with standards. It's about knowing better than to say something and still saying without regard for consequences because one of his jobs doesn't care who they offend in their race baiting antics. Good riddance to selling out ethical standards to the archie bunkers of the world.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 7 months ago

If NPR had any journalistic standards, they would have fired Nina Totenberg for expressing the hope that god gives AIDS to Jesse Helms' grandchildren.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 7 months ago

FOX news is not a news organization it is a Tea Party Repub PAC.

Majestic42 7 years, 7 months ago

Shhhh. We don't talk about facts here. ;)

Commenting has been disabled for this item.