Why Juan Williams Was Fired by NPR Then Hired by Fox
When I get on the 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.
I do a double take. I have a moment of anxiety of fear given what happened on 9/11. That’s just a reality, he said, noting that when he told his former boss, she suggested that Williams had made a bigoted statement.
It’s not a bigoted statement. In fact, in the course of this conversation with Bill O’Reilly, I said we have an obligation as Americans to be careful to protect the constitutional rights of everyone in our country and to make sure that we don’t have any outbreak of bigotry. but that there’s a reality. You can not ignore what happened on 9/11 and you cannot ignore the connection to Islamic radicalism, and you can’t ignore the fact of what has even recently been said in court with regard to this is the first drop of blood in a Muslim war in America.
According to National Public Radio, Juan Williams was fired for breaking his contract. The statements uttered above culminated in being the straw that broke the camels back so to speak. Williams made the statements while moonlighting as a guest host on the Bill O’Reilly show. Although NPR previously requested that he make light of his employment as a political analyst for NPR while appearing on Fox, the distinction was already firmly in place. NPR said that his remarks “were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices.” Williams was paid to report the news in an impartial, unbiased manner, and was expected to do so without compromising NPR’s standards of integrity and ethics in journalism.
Williams appearance and subsequent statements on Fox gave clearance to the support of racial profiling via fear mongering against Muslims, and he opened himself up to personal and professional scrutiny for a shameful display of prejudice whether heartfelt or not.
Before I Proceed, Here Are Some Facts:
1. Juan Williams had a contract with NPR as a political analyst. The terms of his contract included an agreement to refrain from publicly expressing biased opinions. NPR is one of the most consistent news programs in terms of reporting the news in a “fair and balanced” atmosphere.
2. Williams’ freedom of speech is not at issue here. He can express any opinion he wants, as long as he’s not representing a company, entity, or organization that expressly frowns upon doing such a thing.
3. He was already skating on thin ice after a previous warning about his appearances on Fox while also representing and being under contract with NPR.
4. NPR had as much right to terminate his contract as CNN had in terminating Rick Sanchez’s contract due to his insensitive remarks about Jews.
5. While Fox loves controversy and will allow him to get away with saying things like calling Michelle Obama “Stokley Carmichael in a designer dress”, NPR holds itself to a much higher set of standards.
*Stokley Carmichael was a black activist in the 60s whose famous for coining the phrase “Black Power.”
6. My only disappointment lie in the fact that NPR desperately needs MORE diversity not LESS, however a certain standard of quality is expected and appreciated over simply filling a quota.
7. Terrorists typically do whatever they can to assimilate and draw as little attention to themselves as possible leading up to a terrorist act. The fact remains that the 9/11 terrorists were not wearing Muslim garb the day they boarded the planes. If anything, the fact that some Muslims, including Black Muslims, choose to dress in traditional Muslim garb should reassure an intellect like Mr. Williams.
8. A journalists’ duty is to report the news in an unbiased manner. An analysts’ responsibility is to provide a factually unbiased opinion on what’s reported. As it relates to Fox News, expressing ones opinion without regard to the moral or ethical consequence is nothing new or out of the ordinary.
9. Williams’ high profile position at NPR required him to do everything in his professional power to not pontificate his personal opinion in a way that would draw negative attention to not only himself, but also to his network. When he became the news story instead of reporting on the news story, he became a problem for NPR.
10. The First Amendment does not guarantee anyone a job or a media platform in which to exercise their right to free speech, regardless of if their employer is publicly funded or not.
It may not sound THAT bad unless you’re Muslim or Middle-Eastern or someone who is mistaken for either or on a regular basis. Or maybe it just doesn’t ring a bell until you swap the word Muslim for Black.
Riddle me this: How credible can he be in his “neutral analysis” on NPR if he expresses prejudicial opinions based on irrational or rational fears on other networks?
While I agree that single statement may not have been worthy of termination, a culmination of statements made to a similar degree would justify NPR’s decision to finally act in their own best interest. I believe there is much more to the story primarily because the Fox Network was able to put together a multi-million dollar contact for Mr. Williams in a matter of hours.
Final word: A man who gets afraid when he sees a Muslim boarding his plane is no different than a man who gets afraid when he sees a black man walking down the same sidewalk as him at night. There may be cause for concern, but you either push your fears aside and keep them to yourself or you cross over to the other side of the street and keep it moving.
Mr. Williams has no problem prefacing his statements with highlights of his civil-rights book writing campaigns, but he conveniently forgets that for decades blacks in America have protested against this very brand of ignorant, bigoted, and stereotypical thinking, just like the one he declared about Muslims.
Personally, I get a little nervous when I see uninformed Americans entering voting booths, but that’s just me.
I leave you with this:
We only seem to be able to see the bigotry that is aimed at us. Being able to see bigotry that doesn’t actually have anything to do with anyone we know and love, and still be upset about it, is something I wish on every single person. I’m starting to think that the only thing that could bring the human race together is an attack from Mars…those gross, immoral Martians better not even think about messing with us!!!