More on the Juan Williams firing

As I have said before, my delight with the firing of Juan Williams was simple. I thought he was a lousy journalist and I was glad not to have to listen to him anymore. But Jason Linkins captures why the firing was so unusual and it is not because of free speech issues:

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.

Glenn Greenwald explains that some are expressing outrage because creating anti-Muslim fear is their goal and the NPR action has threatened their drive towards it by making it seem as if bigotry towards Muslims should be treated the same way as bigotry towards any other group.

The double standard in our political discourse — which tolerates and even encourages anti-Muslim bigotry while stigmatizing other forms — has been as beneficial as it has been glaring. NPR’s firing of Juan Williams threatened to change that by rendering this bigotry as toxic and stigmatized as other types. That could not be allowed, which is why the backlash against NPR was so rapid, intense and widespread. I’m not referring here to those who object to viewpoint-based firings of journalists in general and who have applied that belief consistently: that’s a perfectly reasonable view to hold (and one I share). I’m referring to those who rail against NPR’s actions by invoking free expression principles they plainly do not support and which they eagerly violate whenever the viewpoint in question is one they dislike. For most NPR critics, the real danger from Williams’ firing is not to free expression, but to the ongoing fear-mongering campaign of defamation and bigotry against Muslims (both foreign and domestic) that is so indispensable to so many agendas.

That sounds right to me.

James Wolcott has his usual droll but accurate take on the event. He points out that Williams can now fully be the kind of person that Fox News loves, the minority who panders to white resentment by validating their stereotypes about minorities, saying “Well, clearly that day has come and such a relief it must be for Williams, able to capitulate to conservative middle-aged white men without having to fret about whatever flak he might get back home at NPR.”


  1. says

    Many thanks to NPR for firing Juan Williams. They have cooked their own goose and now will probably lose all their federal funding as well as the donations from many listeners. By their stupid actions, NPR has brought forward the issues of liberal elitism and federal funding of left wing media just 10 days before the elections.I watch Juan Williams regularly on FOX News. I don’t often agree with his positions on the issues but I regard him as a man of integrity and knowledge. I am happy that he will continue to be a fixture on FOX news.

  2. says

    As I read this it becomes clear to me we should be concerned with EXTREMISTS, not with any religious person. I work with many muslims that think the bombers are insane. I work with many people that don’t like taxes but wouldn’t blow up a federal building. I work with many christians that wouldn’t shoot a doctor for performing abortions. I fear gangs of all sort because they believe in the law of the jungle or they believe their god believes in a violent resolution of a religious dispute. I really didn’t want to have to arm myself to protect my home from christians, hebrews, muslims or from the bloods, the crips, or the nazi militia. I would honor the second amendment and join a reasonably minded militia to protect my neighborhood, but I wouldn’t go with the national guard to Afghanistan, because I don’t live there. And I already spent my time in the service exerting corporate america’s will overseas. Yes I am a veteran that is not excited about weapons or war. I don’t care much about the flag, but I would defend the constitution with my life, until the conservative right distorts the document into something I don’t recognize anymore. Then I guess I’ll have to move somewhere that people are working together to improve everyone’s life then remaining somewhere that values only the individual, not the group.

  3. says

    My wife asked me last night if I thought that the NPR firing would make Williams more conservative. I replied, “Well, he just got mugged.”From the ABC News story:Williams – who just got a $2 million deal for three years with Fox News – said it is making him rethink his previous beliefs about the left wing.“I’ve always thought the right wing were ones that were inflexible and intolerant and now I’m coming to realize that the orthodoxy at NPR, it’s representing the left,” he said.

  4. says


    I am curious, were you an NPR subscriber? Are you aware that less than 2% of their budget comes from federal sources, mostly through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting?

    I think attempts to cut NPR’s funding will go the way that previous attempts to defund PBS went, when Big Bird struck back, and the critics got hammered.

    Actually, I would not be surprised if support for NPR increased as a result of this. I myself more than doubled my annual donation to NPR as a way of saying thanks for Williams’s firing.

  5. says


    I think James Wolcott’s take (link in post) is accurate. Fox is where Williams really belongs, as the faux liberal getting rolled over by the ideologues. The problem for him now is that since he can no longer use his NPR affiliation to burnish his faux liberal credentials, he will soon be seen as just another one of their right-wing hacks.

  6. kuraL says

    In 2009, NPR revenues totaled $164 million, with the bulk of revenues coming from programming fees, grants, contributions and sponsorships. According to the 2009 financial statement, about 40% of NPR revenues come from the fees it charges member stations to receive programming. Typically, NPR member stations raise funds through on-air pledge drives, corporate underwriting, and grants from state governments, universities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In 2009, member stations derived 6% of their revenue from local funding and 10% of their revenue from the federal funding in the form of CPB grants. NPR receives no direct funding from the federal government. About 1.5% of NPR’s revenues come from Corporation for Public Broadcasting grants.
    During the 1970s and early 1980s, the majority of NPR funding came from the federal government. Steps were taken during the 1980s to completely wean NPR from government support, but the 1983 funding crisis forced the network to make immediate changes. More money to fund the NPR network was raised from listeners, charitable foundations and corporations instead.

    Underwriting spots vs. commercials
    In contrast with commercial radio, NPR does not carry traditional commercials, but has advertising in the form of brief statements from major donors, such as Allstate, Merck, and Archer Daniels Midland. These statements are called “underwriting spots”, not commercials, and, unlike commercials, are governed by FCC restrictions; they cannot advocate a product or contain any “call to action”. In 2009, corporate sponsorship made up 26% of the NPR budget.[14]
    [edit] Grants

    On November 6, 2003, NPR was given over US$225 million from the estate of the late Joan B. Kroc, the widow of Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s Corporation. This was a record—the largest monetary gift ever to a cultural institution.[17][18] For context, the 2003 annual budget of NPR was US$101 million. In 2004 that number increased by over 50% to US$153 million due to the Kroc gift. US$34 million of the money was deposited in its endowment.[19] The endowment fund before the gift totaled $35 million. NPR will use the interest from the bequest to expand its news staff and reduce some member stations’ fees. [17] The 2005 budget was about US$120 million.

    In October 2010, NPR accepted a $1.8 million grant from the Open Society Foundations. The grant is meant to begin a project called Impact of Government that is intended to add at least 100 journalists at NPR member radio stations in all 50 states over the next three years.

    For the benefit of Houson, courtesy wikipedia, this is how NPR is funded. Isn’t it a pleasure to know that a very modestly funded and managed media organization like NPR can drive O’Reilley and the assorted trash of Oligarchy Media crazy?

    Juan Williams is very clearly dubbing Muslim Americans unpatriotic for the mere act of dressing up differently. It is true, I am no supporter of the niqab or the full face burqa, or even the hijab. I see sanctimony and even condescension towards us non-Muslims, as wellas the clearly oppressive imposition that drives the full face burqa. But that is something to be discussed with Muslims, if I have the courage as a public commentator, or for me to just shut up. It’s none of my business. And it is not simply men and women in “Muslim garb’ that have been accused of criminal intent. we know how serious a problem racial profiling is. We from Cleveland know, thanks to the Plain Dealer, how the County’s criminal justice system is disproportionately harsh on blacks compared to whites in the case of drug related offenses. We know of air travelers who have been offloaded or even arrested out of mere suspicion because some fellow passenger found them talking in a language he does not understand -- in one case it was two men talking in Tamizh!

  7. Jared A says

    The sad, funny thing is that NPR is in a strict objective sense rather conservative. That is, the network in general has a status quo perspective and values. I think that the reason it so often gets branded as “liberal” is because:

    a) It doesn’t have a profit based agenda.
    b) It’s not overtly right wing (not exactly the same thing as being overtly conservative)
    c) Liberals tend to support public radio in a greater proportion then conservatives do (ergo it must be a liberal media!)

  8. says

    Juan Williams is not a bad person. He should not be talking bad about Muslims but he is a person who loves this country. And it is obvious that some Muslims have been very bad. Again this does not mean all Muslims are bad. The Muslim community should not be upset with Americans like Juan Williams they should be upset with the Muslims who have given them a bad name. They should be working to stop them within their own community.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *