Friday, October 22, 2010

San Juan of Foxville

Update: NPR has even lost Howie Kurtz. Was Juan fired for what he said or where he said it? Would he still be at NPR if he had made the Muslim comments on Charlie Rose?

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A few quick thoughts about the Juan Williams imbroglio at NPR:
  • As Williams himself has said, there can be no doubt but that NPR was itching to rid itself of Williams, who appeared regularly on the undeniably right-wing Fox News as a commentator.
  • The company line that NPR analysts "should not participate in shows . . . that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis" is a crock of bull. NPR's justice correspondent Nina Totenberg appears regularly on Inside Washington, the successor to the old Agronsky and Company. That show, which is the very embodiment of punditry and speculation, showcases the political views of its panelists, which in Totenberg's case is decidedly left-of-center.
  • The comment by the NPR CEO that Williams’ reaction should have been "between him and his psychiatrist or his publicist" just shows how petty and mean-spirited these people can be. Maybe the CEO should fire herself?
  • This was a business decision by NPR. Company executives are certainly free to have whomever they want on their team, but their actions have spurred a movement to eliminate the network's federal funding, which I am told amounts to about $3 million or roughly 2% of its annual budget. Is that what they wanted?
  • But it might also be good for business. NPR is about to embark on another pledge drive. Will Williams' firing motivate the Fox-hating, left-of-center listenership to open its wallets? Stay tuned ...


  1. Terry, I don't see why you (or anyone) see this negatively. It is good for everyone. Williams had evidently become a bad fit with NPR. He will make good money now at Fox and be able to comment as he likes. And he will make Fox a better place. And they are getting good free publicity. The circumstances of his firing were unfortunate for NPR; less so for him. A public dismissal is seldom smooth, right?

  2. There is one thing I am sure of in this incident ...

    NPR should have ALL funding from ANY taxpayer source revolked!

    Freedom (which includes FREE SPEECH) is part of the foundation of America.

    When an institution relies on the PUBLIC DOLLAR for ANY part of it's funding, and further professes that it is an important part of FREE SPEECH, then fires someone for excersizing that right ... Well ... Shut the bums off.

    NPR has been a LEFT WING propoganda machine for a long time.

    While it offers some GREAT entertainment programming, that is only a cover for the REAL agenda of NPR. Take PUBLIC money to manipulate the PUBLIC into believing that your LEFT WING philosophy is what America is all about.

    In this time of economic stress (fueled by the incompetance in the White House), NPR has offered us a bit of relief.

    Shut off the public dollar to NPR now ... Their current actions prove that they are NOT what America is suppose to be ... In fact NPR has become an embarassment to this country and an insult to the American way.

  3. Mike, I have argued for some time that the federal government should not fund journalism. Like it or not, the product becomes tainted. Yes, NPR leans left, but your favorite, Fox, leans right. The difference, of course, is that Fox does not need a hand-out to survive.

    Peter, I essentially agree with what you say about all parties benefitting. As I pointed out, it might actually good for NPR's business. But it has also spurred calls for defunding, which I don't think the network wanted. And there is also the dishonest nature of their argument, but that's another matter entirely.

  4. Peter and Terry ...

    The difference between FOX and NPR is the use of PUBLIC funds ...

    If an organization is using PUBLIC FUNDS it should be upholding the CONSTITUTION.

    Private business is free to do what it wants ... the public market will control that via capitalism.

    I am never asked (when I pay my taxes at the Federal level) if I want to fund a particular organization.

    If it does not support American Rights set by the Constitution, then it needs to seek its own funding.

    The US Government was NOT created to pull the money out of average American's pockets to fund Political Agenda!

    Let us take NPR off the back of the American Taxpayer ... It is a small improvement economically, but a major improvement that will return us to the real idea of what America is all about ... Free SPEECH ... NO STRINGS!

  5. Mike, if the Scoville Library fired one of its employees for saying something in public that embarrassed the library board, should the town withdraw its funding? That's essentially what happened in the case of NPR.

  6. Williams's free speech wasn't curtailed. His employment was.

    btw, NPR news is not the opposite of Fox news. You could make that case for MSNBC. Fox and MSNBC are both long on commentary and opinion. NPR delivers and analyzes the news - not purely, but how could it be pure. As to withdrawing Federal funding, do you actually think that would shut down NPR? Or chasten them? It would almost certainly swing it to the left, and perhaps strengthen it. Be careful what you wish for.

  7. Terry ...

    Your comparison of the Scoville Library to NPR is like comparing an apple to a mule ... two very different things. I won't even engage in such a comparison.

    Peter ...

    Can you explain to me what the difference is that you percieve between 'commentary/opinion' and news analysis?

    Is it NOT the job of a PURE news organization to deliver the news to the public and allow THEM to analyze it? After all, most of us have funtioning brains and don't need someone to tell us what we just saw or heard.

    I maintain that FOX, MSNBC, CNN are all private corporations and may do as they wish.

    NPR may do the same once it releases itself from the public tit.

    I don't care what it does to NPR ... It can swing so far left that it falls off the planet.


    Firing someone is a punitive measure and it is mute point that they may have employment elsewhere. It is the principle that is in question here.

  8. Terry, Mike, et al:

    Just so you know, if it were not for the grant we receive from CPB we would not have funding for the following staff:

    Laura O'Rilley FT (office manager)
    Mike Flint FT (Manager CATV 6)
    Sus Clayton FT (underwriting sales)
    Sally Wilburn FT (underwriting sales)
    Joni Ford FT (underwriting sales)

    We are charged to use the funds for salaries for programming, sales, and management...
    It truly gives back to the local community...without the grants, we could NEVER afford to staff the stations.
    A true local economic stimulus that puts money into our local communities.

    Just some info from a small NPR affiliate and non-profit.

  9. Marshall, I never said the feds should stop funding NPR, just that I don't think the government should be funding journalism. Since Tri-State Public Communications does not have a news staff, my point as it pertains to your organization is moot.