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Don’t Cry for Juan Williams

Posted By Larry Elder On November 1, 2010 @ 12:00 am In FrontPage | 27 Comments

Don’t cry for Juan Williams.

Lurking ahead are probably a seven-figure book deal, larger speaking fees, and loads more face time on television. NPR fired him, reconfirming the organization as a taxpayer-supported bastion of biased liberalism masquerading as “nonpartisan.”

So it’s all good.

Williams, as liberals go, comes across as more reasonable than most. He wasn’t always like that. Years of getting his leftist butt kicked at the Fox round table by the likes of quick minds such as William Kristol, Brit Hume and the brilliant Charles Krauthammer made Williams more sensible. He raised his game, which meant fewer silly emotional arguments and a more nuanced, if still often wrongheaded, criticism of “the right.”

Williams got Krauthammered — almost on a daily basis. The intellectual firepower was so one-sided that if the Krauthammer-Williams exchanges had been prizefights, Nevada wouldn’t have licensed them. So Williams moved toward the center.

Can a lib really say to Fred Barnes/Krauthammer/Kristol/Hume that “Bush Lied, People Died” — and not get his clock cleaned? Could a lib say that the Bush tax cuts “solely” benefited the rich — without one of these gentlemen pointing out that everybody who paid taxes got a break and that the very rich, the top 1 percent of income earners, pay almost 40 percent of the federal income taxes?

Williams, post-Fox News, wasn’t the same guy NPR hired into its insular bubble 10 years ago. He became what leftists dread: thoughtful. More ominously, he learned to respect non-liberals’ points of view and to understand that their worldview is not necessarily evil.

Williams saw that rational, non-racist people can sincerely believe that ObamaCare is a disaster, that “stimulus” prolonged the recession, or that government ownership of car companies, banks and insurance companies is a bad idea.

To NPR’ers gathered at the water cooler, the centrist-trending Williams had become the clichéd Uncle Tom sellout, bought and paid for by Fox’s Rupert Murdoch. Has even one of Williams’ former colleagues at NPR come to his defense? Meanwhile, the NAACP, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the ACLU and the National Association of Black Journalists remain unavailable for comment.

Incredibly, NPR’s CEO, Vivian Schiller, defended the firing this way: “A news analyst cannot continue to credibly analyze the news if they are expressing opinions (emphasis added) about divisive issues,” Schiller said. “It’s that simple. And the same would go with anybody.” Yet last year, NPR’s ombudsman wrote: “NPR’s management put (Williams) on contract with the title ‘news analyst’ largely to give him more latitude about what he says.

He’s now paid to give his opinion (emphasis added), and with three decades in the news business, it is often a valuable take on today’s politics.”

Is opinion-giving by NPR news analysts really off-limits? Does “the same go with anybody,” as asserted by its CEO?

Senior news analyst Cokie Roberts called Glenn Beck a “terrorist.” Legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg once said she hoped conservative Sen. Jesse Helms or his grandchildren would contract AIDS, and she called the Bush tax cuts “immoral.”

Tavis Smiley, who once called pro-death penalty then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush a “serial killer,” isn’t a news analyst, and he works in public broadcasting on TV, not on radio. But consider this jaw-dropping — but apparently non-newsworthy — exchange on PBS between this left-wing host and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Muslim author, as she criticized Islamic terrorists:

Smiley: But Christians do that every single day in this country.

Ali: Do they blow people up?

Smiley: Yes. … Every day, people walk into post offices; they walk into schools. That’s what Columbine is. I mean, I could do this all day long. … There are so many more examples, Ayaan, of Christians who do that than you could ever give me examples of Muslims who have done that inside this country, where you live and work.

Now, what exactly was Williams’ “offense”?

He said people in airports wearing “Muslim garb … identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims” make him “nervous.” Because Williams expressed an opinion likely shared by a large majority of Americans, NPR’s CEO questioned his mental stability.

Isn’t vigilance, post-9/11, the job of the citizenry, part of a national neighborhood watch? What kind of twisted political correctness is it to say, as did then-Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, that a 70-year-old white woman from Vero Beach deserves the same level of scrutiny in an airport as does a young Muslim man from Jersey City?

NPR and PBS are supposedly nonprofit. But shows like “A Prairie Home Companion,” through a complex weave of private holding companies and licensing deals, made a phenomenally rich man out of Garrison Keillor. NPR and PBS executives and on-air talent enjoy salaries and benefits higher than the private sector pays comparable positions.

That NPR and PBS receive public money — in a world of hundreds of competitive television and radio stations — is outrageous. More galling, they push a leftist worldview while taking tax dollars from non-liberals for the privilege.

Pull the plug on NPR and PBS. No, don’t cry for Juan Williams. Cry for America.


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