Tag Archives: Juan Williams

Should NPR Pander to the Right or Cut Loose With the Left?

Logo of NPR News.

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National Public Radio is caught between the proverbial rock and a hard radio place. They can be as liberal as they profess not to be and give up their use/need  of  partial public funding or they can keep taking those tax dollars and pretend to be neutral. 

 NPR hasn’t had a banner PR year. First came the Juan Williams firing fiasco and then yesterday NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller (resigned and was forced out) after a conservative activist (James O’Keefe) “sting” operation taped a non-news NPR executive bashing the Tea Party and calling its members racist and blah, blah, blah.  Bashing the Tea Party in my book is not a bad thing but if you are a purported non-biased, neutral, down-the-middle-of-the-road publicly funded radio station it is nothing short of catastrophic. At least that is what the Congressional Republicans are saying as some of them discuss pulling the plug on NPR’s funding.

Depending on who you believe, NPR gets anywhere from 2% to 16% public funding from various sources: the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and other federal, state and local sources.  NPR CEO’s have stated for years that hundreds of local stations would “go dark” without the public funds. I’m no expert on their funding but I do know that with public funding it means you have to please all of the people all of the time. An impossible task. You also have to please the politically correct police and every Republican on the planet. But, many Repubs don’t like NPR so that part is a lost cause.

The best thing NPR can do is quit pandering to the Republicans just for the money. Quit trying to feign interest in being totally unbiased when human beings are involved that have obvious opinions and biases. They should also drop the we are better than everyone else attitude because clearly with all these recent problems-they are not necessarily better just different. I like different and so do tons of NPR listeners and backers but they need to get off their high horse and call a spade a spade. Yes, they are more unbiased than most news entities out there but yes, they lean-to-the-left.

But most importantly, NPR stands for PUBLIC and without PUBLIC  like myself and millions of others who give money during their “pledge” drives there would be no shows. We give because of the on-air talent, people in the field and behind the scenes workers helping to produce shows. Many could care less about their CEO’s unless they are doing something stupid, which seems a common thing lately. Maybe it is time for NPR to pander to the masses that actually listen to them and quit pretending to be something they are not. They are a great liberal news entity with excellent reporters and writers. And, that’s not a bad thing.

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O’Reilly to Juan Williams; “I’ve got your back”

I really hate to beat a dead, already signed by Fox News horse but…I keep thinking about the Thursday night Bill O’Reilly and Juan Williams love fest where O’Reilly told Williams; “I’ve got your back” and then Williams told O’Reilly; “You know what, you are a standup guy”. When Williams uttered those words on O’Reilly’s show, I knew he had been bought by Fox News, hook, line and sinker.  Of course as we all know now, by the next day (Friday) Williams had a $2 million contract with Fox. It was like the mutual admiration society of these two spawned a new reason for living. Plain and simple; NPR bashing.

I like Juan Williams and you can tell by sifting through my blog archives that I am not in the O’Reilly or Fox News fan club.  I have already noted in my Thursday blog that I felt NPR’s firing of Williams was done in an unprofessional, and thoroughly distasteful manner, so no need to re-tread that.  Not many of us would get the opportunity to bash our ex-employers in a public setting but hardly anyone gets the national platform to do so, lucky him.  I found myself amazed that Williams was  so totally hyped up on O’Reilly’s show Thursday (with a ton of prodding from O’Reilly) that he appeared to gleefully relish knocking an employer of 10 years (an employer that helped make him pretty famous by adding to his credibility). 

While I understand that he was upset with his firing, as anyone would be, I didn’t really notice the calm, classy, voice of reason that I had come to expect from him over the years.  When O’Reilly’s Friday show hit the airwaves and Williams was pitch-hitting for an absent O’Reilly, much of the show was about the Williams and NPR continuing saga as everybody and his brother was dragged out to be “shocked” and “horrified” by what Williams had been subjected to. It seemed quite weird to me that Juan Williams was doing a show about Juan Williams.  Pushing his case, bashing NPR, explaining away and dissecting his Muslim statement as if we had all not heard it 100 times in the last 48 hours.

It was as if in the blink of an eye, the flash of a lost job and the promise of $2. million , Williams fell quickly into Fox mode. Journalism be damned, I’m a Fox pundit now for real, no more treading lightly as an “analyst’.  So, welcome to the “Fair and Balanced News” Juan Williams, and oh yeah, watch your back.

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NPR Juan Williams dillema; Fox pundit or NPR journalist?

I’m watching Fox News right now as Bill O’Reilly is threatening National Public Radio (NPR), his words; “NPR will rue the day”. This is all in response to the firing of Juan Williams, a NPR political analyst who has been with NPR for 10 years.  Williams spends a lot of time on Fox News, as a matter of fact, he got fired for something he said on Fox News Monday night on O’Reilly‘s show.  It appears his joblessness will be short-lived, he was fired on Wednesday and Friday he will be pitch-hitting for O’Reilly on his show on Friday while O’Reilly is “on assignment”.

On Fox News this week Williams stated “I mean, look Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kinds of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But, when I get on a 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.”

 This is the statement that evidently got the firing ball rolling but it seems to have been a long time coming.  According to O’Reilly on his Thursday night show, Williams was told in 2009 by NPR that it did not want him to be identified with Fox News and did not want him stating that he was an NPR analyst when on Fox news.  I understand the views of NPR on that issue, but I don’t understand why they did not go to Williams much sooner and tell him; Look, It’s us or Fox, take your pick. Be an opinion giver or a journalist.

I always thought it was weird to see Williams on Fox News which is more or less the opposite of everything NPR stands for but I thought maybe he was a free agent and didn’t have an NPR contract. I was wrong, he had one. I was in the news business at a time when a more definitive line was drawn in the sand regarding opinion and news. Today in the news, it’s hard to tell.  A true journalist is not an analyst, or a commentator, or a pundit or whatever other names the media can come up with to cloud the issue.  A journalist (sometimes called a reporter) is supposed to report the news in the most unbiased way possible and let the chips fall where they may. It is then supposed to be up to the public to form their own opinion after receiving all the facts.

While I don’t think any NPR journalist should be masquerading as a Fox pundit, it is hard in today’s world to even utter the word Muslim without all hell breaking loose.  I don’t think Williams meant to be insensitive but he was. TV cameras thrown into our faces tend to make us think that our feelings and opinions must be important.  But if you are a journalist, they are not.

NPR is going to feel the shock waves of this more than they can ever imagine. While I don’t agree that Williams could have continued to play both sides against the middle, his NPR bosses fired the guy over the phone without even a face to face encounter. He will now get to blast NPR all over cable news and has already garnered the sympathy of many.  “All Things Considered,”  NPR better round-up their troops for some stellar PR moves and the first priority should be to tell NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller , to find someone to help her tone down  her terse and foolish on-air statements. Or better yet,  let her keep blabbing and lose more public and privately funded money.

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