John on October 21, 2010 at 11:12 pm
Been waiting all day and the post from the NPR ombudswoman is finally up:
Thursday was a day like none I’ve experienced since coming to NPR in October 2007. Office phone lines rang non-stop like an alarm bell with no off button. We’ve received more than 8,000 emails, a record with nothing a close second…
At noon, the deluge of email crashed NPR’s “Contact Us” form on the web site.
The overwhelming majority are angry, furious, outraged. They want NPR to hire him back immediately. If NPR doesn’t, they want all public funding of public radio to stop. They promise to never donate again. They are as mad as hell, and want everyone to know it. It was daunting to answer the phone and hear so much unrestrained anger.
Now the justification:
Williams’ appearances on Fox News, especially O’Reilly’s show, have caused heartburn repeatedly for NPR over the last few years. Management said he’s been warned several times that O’Reilly is a professional provocateur and to be careful.
In early 2009, Williams said on O’Reilly of Michelle Obama: “She’s got this Stokely Carmichael-in-a-designer-dress thing going. If she starts talking . . . her instinct is to start with this blame America, you know, I’m the victim. If that stuff starts to coming out, people will go bananas and she’ll go from being the new Jackie O. to being something of an albatross.”
Now the absolute BS.
management felt he had become more of a liability than an asset. Unfortunately, I agree.
It can’t be overlooked that this episode is occurring in a toxic political environment where people are quick to take sides and look for hidden motives. I fear some will look for racial motivations in NPR’s decision to fire Williams, who is African-American and one of the few black male NPR voices.
It’s not about race. It’s also not about free speech, as some have charged. Nor is it about an alleged attempt by NPR to stifle conservative views. NPR offers a broad range of viewpoints on its radio shows and web site.
Yes, it ranges all the way from extreme fringe to moderate left. Here’s the killer graph. The problem is that FOX just isn’t as ideologically balanced as NPR:
Instead, this latest incident with Williams centers around a collision of values: NPR’s values emphasizing fact-based, objective journalism versus the tendency in some parts of the news media, notably Fox News, to promote only one side of the ideological spectrum.
Here we go with the laughable claim of journalistic rectitude:
NPR, like any mainstream news outlet, expects its journalists to be thoughtful and measured in everything they say.
What utter bullpuckey. If that’s so how do Nina Totenburg and Cokie Roberts continue to have jobs? Why is one given a pass for wishing AIDS on a Senator’s grandkids (see below) and the other for comparing a talk show host to a terrorist. Measured my ass. The only rule here is don’t offend the left’s delicate sensibilities, to wit:
What Williams said was deeply offensive to Muslims and inflamed, rather than contributing positively, to an important debate about the role of Muslims in America.
Williams was doing the kind of stereotyping in a public platform that is dangerous to a democracy. It puts people in categories, as types – not as individuals with much in common despite their differences.
I can only imagine how Williams, who has chronicled and championed the Civil Rights movement, would have reacted if another prominent journalist had said:
“But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see an African American male in Dashiki with a big Afro, I get worried. I get nervous.”
When African Americans with big afros start taking down skyscrapers, I’ll be worried too. Until then, not so much. And now the ombudswoman completely abandons all pretense of doing her job:
I’m not privy to the why this announcement was so hastily made.
Really? Did you ask? Could your peach of a CEO not be bothered to take questions? It ends:
Even though NPR handled this situation badly, the fact remains that NPR must uphold its journalistic standards, which, after all, provide the basis that earned public radio’s reputation for quality.
NPR must uphold its journalistic standards for anyone friendly with FOX. For everyone else who works here, there’s a different set of rules.
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