Juan Williams Makes The Transition To Fox News Commentator

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Media

How is his new role at Fox News fitting him?

Like a glove!

Here’s what he said this morning:

This is evidence of one-party rule and one sided thinking at NPR that leads to enforced ideology, speech and writing. It leads to people, especially journalists, being sent to the gulag for raising the wrong questions and displaying independence of thought.

I also like that Williams claims he was fired for telling the truth.

That’s right. You were fired for telling the truth. Your truth.

And NPR had every right to fire you. Especially since it was against their ethics code…

10. In appearing on TV or other media including electronic Web-based forums, NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist. They should not participate in shows electronic forums, or blogs that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis.

Now, should they have fired you? That’s not for me to decide, but I bet they wished they would have handled it differently. Let your contract expire or something along those lines.

But you’ve got a choice. You can turn into a professional victim/hack Fox News “journalist” or you can realize you said something dumb, take your lumps (and your new $2M contract) and grow up. Do you really want to be remembered for saying you were scared of Muslims who are dressed in traditional garb? You do realize that the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 (and everybody after who has attempted attacks in the US) were dressed in plain clothes, right?

Juan, seriously…think of your legacy, think of your credibility and just move on.


This entry was posted on Friday, October 22nd, 2010 and is filed under Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

30 Responses to “Juan Williams Makes The Transition To Fox News Commentator”

  1. Chris Says:

    What a douche.

  2. Rich Horton Says:

    It’s only a “code of ethics” if it is enforced in a uniform fashion.
    If it isn’t enforced in such a manner it is something, but it isn’t an “ethic.”

    The idea that NPR is going to run an ongoing inquisition whenever one of its people goes on a TV or radio talk show to make sure they never profer a personal opinion (which by the terms of their so-called “ethic” would be prohibited) is simple foolishness. The idea that the content of Williams wasn’t singled out as being against “progressive” orthodoxy simply doesn’t pass the smell test either.

    The fact is NPR is singling out only the people who talk to Fox News (like they did with Mara Liasson.) Now, I’m supposed to beleive either A) This is an accident of happenstance, or B) No NPR reporter has ever proffered an opinion on another non-FNC show which wouldnt appear in their NPR work. Apparently, I was born yesterday. (And yet, I got no birthday gifts.)

    Besides, if the “public” part of National Public Radio is to be related, in any way, to the standards of public discourse we enjoy in this country should it really deviate so far from the principles of free speech as to be unrecognizable.

    All I can say is this, John Stuart Mill would be on Williams side here. (So would Immanuel Kant for that matter.)

    Stalin would be on NPR’s.

  3. Wickedways Says:

    Hearst fired Helen Thomas for some horrible remarks about Israel. CNN canned Octavia Nasr after a Tweet that some interpreted as pro-Hezbollah. CNN fired Rick Sanchez for remarks he made about Jews.

    But with NPR’s abrupt firing Thursday of veteran commentator Juan Williams in the wake of a stupid remark he made about Muslims on Fox News’s The O’Reilly Factor, where he is also a regular contributor…..

    it’s time to call a trend a trend.

    What’s happened to the ideal of a free press speaking the truth — or even screwing up the truth — no matter whom it offends? From the HuffPO.

    End quotes.

    My take. When we start firing reporters for saying things occassionally that are ill advised then we are putting gags on the town criers and telling them to shut up.

    No matter they are Republicans, Democrats or Independents as NPR claims….They are after all Humans and Americans and as Americans they are afforded the luxury of the 1st amendment.

    Unless you cross the PC line and then you are expendable…..and that is why Liberals and Conservatives alike are fired up over Juan Williams firing.

    As our old adversary was quoted as saying….

    It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed.
    – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

  4. kranky kritter Says:

    I am 100% on the side of free speech, and 100% against people who continually hone their skills of being offended, the better to be offended the next time someone says something inconvenient and awkward.

    PBS is well within their rights to fire Williams, they have the right to do so. But IMO they were wrong to fire him.

    How can we ever have open and honest conversations about anything difficult when half the people are ready to get their panties all atwist at the first hint of anything spoken that makes someone feel uneasy?

    There are plenty of Americans who experience at least brief and transient doubts when they suddenly see someone in muslim garb in person, especially if that’s an uncommon or irregular experience for them.

    ideologues will insist that’s racism. But psychologists, who know better, understand that it’s a combination of a trauma response from 9/11 and popular cultural conditioning. It’s not a rational response, it’s a visceral one, from the lizard brain. I can’t stress enough how important it is to understand that. Not excuse it. But understand it, and not lose our minds about it.

  5. Chris Says:

    Of the thousands of complaints that have saturated NPR in the wake of Juan Williams’s firing earlier this week, some of the most telling have been from callers describing themselves as long-time “viewers” of NPR who warn that they are going to “stop watching.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/23/business/media/23williams.html?_r=2&ref=business

    ^ LOL ^

  6. Mike A. Says:

    Yes let’s rally against public broadcasting and it’s socialist implications for the news industry. No problem. NPR gets ~1% of it’s operating budget from government funding.

    I just went and increased my membership donation. That was easy.

  7. Tillyosu Says:

    NPR is about as non partisan as this blog…

  8. Chris Says:

    And you are about as clever as a pubic hair.

  9. Mike A. Says:

    Tillyosu,

    I have listened to NPR for years. Whenever a political discussion ensues they consistently:
    1. Have both sides of the story represented, and not with lightweight patsies.
    2. Invite critical people to come onto the show to represent their opinion.
    3. If they do appear partisan, they typically address these concerns at a later date. For example there was a very good discussion on the Juan Williams issue on 10/23. It wasn’t defensive, but analytical, with both perspectives represented. I don’t see this type of self-reflection on other news programs. They have, and will, make errors. But they are discussed in detail for the viewer to decide.

    Because NPR does not tow the extreme right rhetoric, they fall into the category as “liberal media”, exactly like every other news organization that refuses to do so.

    With all of the crap news options out there, NPR is by far the least biased, and most informative available to us. And then there’s the added benefit of not having commercials touting gold hoarding and erectile dysfunction medicine shout at the “viewer” every ten minutes.

  10. WHQ Says:

    It’s not a rational response, it’s a visceral one, from the lizard brain.

    You beat me to it, kk. I had the exact same thought the other day about the primitive core of the human brain. All the fancy evolutionary add-ons that let us create great works of art, develop and apply calculus, invent incredible machines, philosophize and so on cannot prevent the core from reacting, if momentarily and occasionally, to various stimuli in animalistic ways.

    Anyone who claims to have never had feelings or thoughts equally objectionable to the ones Williams described is lying, perhaps even to himself or herself. It’s a matter of how one deals with those feelings, and I think a good way to start is to admit to having such thoughts and feelings, even if only to one’s self, though it’s probably better to share. If everyone did that in good faith and tolerance, the world would be a far better place.

    If NPR wanted to promote tolerance, perhaps it would have been better to let Williams explain himself further on NPR in an open, honest way and to let everyone know why they were doing so.

  11. kranky kritter Says:

    Yup. And that’s the sort of stuff that might lead folks to doing just a little bit of self-beneficial metacognition. We are all of us EXTREMELY good at immediately overlaying our rational explanatory system on top of our visceral reactions. Which means that we are also very BAD at noticing when we have visceral reactions and explain them away by connecting them to convenient explanations.

    Sometimes the lizard brain runs the show for a few seconds, and sometimes a bit longer. Especially if that visceral response squirts a spritz of adrenalin into the system. Pretending this part of us is not relevant to our passionately held political beliefs is a good way to keep running round the mulberry bush.

  12. Trescml Says:

    Of course his comments ignores the fact that most Muslim terrorist (like on 9/11) dress in casual business clothes. Of course after the financial crisis, maybe that is the profile of who we should be scared when we see them.

  13. kranky kritter Says:

    Of course his comments ignores the fact that most Muslim terrorist (like on 9/11) dress in casual business clothes.

    Exactly. Because muslim terrorists understand how suspicion is related to the visceral response system. So they seek to blend in.

    The whole point of bringing up visceral responses is to call attention to how visceral responses are unrelated to rational consideration.

    If we were thinking rationally, we’d all agree that it makes sense to be afraid of muslim terrorists. But in practice, our minimal attention of stuff outside what we are focusing on operates on an autonomic basis. So, we are prone to being startled by something that reads as muslim simply because muslims are the larger set of which every muslim terrorist must be a part, So the lizard brain may wink it gets a glimpse of a muslim signal.

  14. Chris Says:

    What reaction does our lizard brain have to muslin though?

  15. Tillyosu Says:

    And you are about as clever as a pubic hair.

    And I suppose calling Mr. Williams a “douche” or comparing me to a pubic hair is clever? Grow up man…

  16. Chris Says:

    No, Mr Williams is a douche because he’s acting like a douche and has nothing to do with being clever.

  17. WHQ Says:

    What reaction does our lizard brain have to muslin though?

    An association with the carnage of 9/11. It’s pretty basic. 9/11 was a traumatic event, almost immediately followed by innumerable images of bearded Arab men to whom the event was attibuted.

    It’s irrationally bigotted to generalize that to all (perceived) Muslims for sure, but it’s also unintentional, or at least can be. As far as I can tell, not having seen the entire show or even any more than the Youtube clip, Williams’ offense was admitting to having an irrationally bigotted, unintentional reaction to seeing people he perceived as being Muslims on airplanes.

    If he were advocating discriminatory policies or taking action against Muslims (was he?) based on his emotional reaction, that would put him into another category.

  18. WHQ Says:

    I should add that I’m only talking about the comments he made on O’Reilly. I don’t know if he’s generally being a douche or not after the fact. It doesn’t really interest me.

  19. theWord Says:

    @Tillyosu

    Not sure about the pubic hair end of it but perhaps, this comment came across as not all that insightful or enlightening (or surprising)

    NPR is about as non partisan as this blog…

    This blog has a wide range of views and I would say NPR is more balanced than any other news source I can think of. Even most conservatives would say that it is likely the standard for objective information (unless you went to the BBC) I’d be curious to know who anyone thinks is doing a better job.

  20. Chris Says:

    WHQ: I was being silly, muslin is a fabric.

  21. kranky kritter Says:

    Even most conservatives would say that it is likely the standard for objective information

    What do you base that on? It doesn’t strike me as very likely.

    My own mileage is that how good a source is on the issues varies by the issue. I think NPR provides much better breadth of coverage than average. On selected issues, they provide better depth than average.

    I believe this is substantially due to the fact that NPR need not be as concerned with ratings, which drive revenue in the advertising-based model their competitors fall under.

  22. Chris Says:

    I get the impression that most conservatives think NPR is the mouthpiece for the “Reds”. lol.

  23. Tillyosu Says:

    This blog has a wide range of views and I would say NPR is more balanced than any other news source I can think of.

    Perhaps I should clarify…what I meant was “NPR is about as non partisan as this blog host.”

    …oh ya, and “Chris” is an intellectual midget…

  24. Tillyosu Says:

    I believe this is substantially due to the fact that NPR need not be as concerned with ratings, which drive revenue in the advertising-based model their competitors fall under.

    And this is precisely why Republicans think tax dollars shouldn’t go to NPR. They lean left, yes, but dumping money into their business model is exactly the kind of government waste conservatives rail against. After all, the whole premise behind their model is that they produce programming that the market rejects.

  25. Tillyosu Says:

    And just to follow up, this is why Fox News is so successful. When conservatives say the MSM is dominated by liberals, they’re routinely dismissed as paranoids. But why do you think Fox is so successful? It’s because they found a market niche that was previously unserviced. Of course they lean right, but that’s their business model. 40% of this country self identify as conservative, and yet they didn’t have a news source they were satisfied with. That was the genius of Murdoch’s business plan…

  26. WHQ Says:

    WHQ: I was being silly, muslin is a fabric.

    Oh. Um, never mind.

    And this is precisely why Republicans think tax dollars shouldn’t go to NPR.

    Well, there is this from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NPR#Funding:

    In 2009, NPR revenues totaled $164 million, with the bulk of revenues coming from programming fees, grants, contributions and sponsorships.[14] 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 government funding and 10% of their revenue from the federal funding in the form of CPB grants.[14][15] NPR receives no direct funding from the federal government.[16] 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.

  27. Mike A. Says:

    “After all, the whole premise behind their model is that they produce programming that the market rejects.”

    Which “market” are you referring to. 27 million listeners per week, only 1% of it’s budget comes from the government, 99% from donations/subscriptions, been around for 39 years.

    Sounds like a real failure.

  28. Mike A. Says:

    “And this is precisely why Republicans think tax dollars shouldn’t go to NPR. ”

    Yes and Fox’s parent company can directly fund partisan campaigns. Fair and friggin’ balanced.

  29. Chris Says:

    No faux is successful because people like being told what to think. It works for you Tilly.

  30. kranky kritter Says:

    If NPR and PBS and so on get so very little of their funding from the government, why not just let go of the teat once and for all. Just asking, not advocating.

    That would take a bete noire out of the stable of conservative rants, _AND_ leave them trying to explain legitimate market success.

    I’m not one to try and make an argument that PBS et al are less biased than average, _or_ more biased than average. One, it’s a pointlessly unwinnable partisan argument. And two, the amount of political bias shown in any media coverage by any entity varies widely by the issue.

    But I am willing to argue that NPR and PBS are more likely than average to demonstrate depth of coverage on serious issues. It may be somewhat biased coverage, depending on the issue. Like say education or global warming. But they do take the time.

    They also provide a greater breath of coverage, especially international affairs. they don’t spend the first 8 minutes of the news broadcast on OJ Simpson for 3 straight months. The weather and sports and entertainment news isn’t half of the “news.”

    I think it’s legitimate to be worried about failures of quality and idealism that may occur if America gives itself over wholly to free market approaches to journalism and popular art. As some public institutions fail or are at least diminished in power, there is a real risk that more and more power will be consolidated in hands of powerful special interests who really and truly do not give a crap about everyday folks.

    It’s quite easy to argue that journalism has often failed in its efforts to be an unbiased representative of the people, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. We know such entities are flawed, but at least we know they have been trying, that they have been keeping us in mind.

    I find it hard to imagine serious investigative journalism continuing to thrive at exposing wrongdoing by the powerful when ,over time, these powerful special interests consolidate more and more political, economic, and mass communications power.

    I am deeply agnostic on the idea that such goods will simply emerge from a thriving free market. “The free market” always really means “what currently passes for a free market.” Without vigorous mechanisms for the people’s interests to be represented in the market and in the various halls of power, the needs and wants of the people will always be tertiary to those of powerful politicians and special interests.

    Some claim that the vote is all we need and to some extent that may be true. But we’ve learned helplessness. Open that cage door and we just sit their cowering, afraid any movement will bring the next violent shock.

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