Juan Williams should not have lost his job


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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34 Responses

  1. Avatar Michael Drew says:


  2. Avatar Casey Head says:

    NPR gave up any objectivity to become a slave to political correctness long ago. This profoundly human moment of admitting something he is ashamed of was just an excuse for NPR. Williams is one of the rare old-school journalists committed to covering both sides of an issue, and his refusal to peddle someone else’s political agenda is what got him fired.Report

  3. Avatar gregiank says:

    People being fired for something that bunches undies is a pretty common thing nowadays. If there is an issue here its what kind of statements are fine and what aren’t. One of the talking boneheads at Fox, kilmeade i think, said Muslims are all terrorists. Combining stupidity and bigotry, he still will never be fired from Fox. However a CNN reporter got fired just for tweeting RIP over the death of an Arab holy man. And if you are Marty Peretz , Harvard will still honor yo regardless. Should Williams have been fired, beats me. This was likely more of an excuse to do something they already wanted to do for whatever reasons. But Williams is just the tip of the iceberg for this kind of thing.Report

  4. Avatar Will H. says:

    Makes me wonder what kind of place NPR really is.Report

    • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Will H. says:

      @Will H.,
      There’s no need to wonder. And with Soros’ baking, it will be worse. There is a campaign against Fox, and now NPR is on board. I know Erick thinks calling this political correctness gone berserk is ridiculus, but to call it anything else is denial, or something — I can’t imagine what motivates someone to minimize this, other than an irrational defense of cherished beliefs.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to MFarmer says:

        @MFarmer, I travel a lot for work, and I’ve noticed that there is a difference between stations that carry mostly local programming and those that don’t.
        Public radio in Wisconsin is pretty cool, but in Missouri, I find myself turning the radio down more and more.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I am not only an avid listener of NPR, but I’m also a member.

    I tend to agree that it shouldn’t get government funding any more than Fox News should get government funding. I understand that federal funds “only” account for 4-5% of NPR’s total budget. Great. They can have a 5-7% longer membership drive and, and here’s the point, you no longer have to feel like your tax dollars are paying for Amy Goodman to lie to you.

    If you want Amy Goodman to lie to you, pay her yourself.Report

    • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Jaybird says:

      I’m in total agreement. No funding with tax payer money.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to MFarmer says:

        @MFarmer, Count me in on the federal funding bs…it’s gotta stop. However, I get WQED and I like ‘some’ of their programs but others are so biased I usually watch for the laughs available…everyone on the station is required to drink the kool aide.
        Juan got hoisted on his own petard. Who cares?
        Death to Islam!Report

      • Avatar Koz in reply to MFarmer says:

        Fkkkk defunding. Somewhere under that pile of corporate rubble there’s a Congressional charter in there somewhere and guess what, the R’s are about ready to retake Congress.

        Let ’em spend their afternoons listening to All Things Considered with Laura Ingraham.Report

  6. Avatar Steven Donegal says:

    He should have lost his job at NPR a long time ago. I don’t really care why they fired him. He was an uninteresting dispenser of conventional wisdom. The fact that he was on Fox should have sealed his fate at NPR. Now if Cokie Roberts would only say something vaguely racist, NPR can get rid of her too and I might be able to listen again.Report

  7. The analogy to the Sherrod mess was my first reaction as well. This was a knee-jerk move that maybe reflects NPR looking for a reason to fire Williams but also (probably) reflects a fear of what either side might do if an offending commentor is not quickly canned. Sherrod was fired because the administration was terrified of conservative backlash over a perceived moment of reverse racism. NPR is terrified of what liberals will say about Williams.Report

  8. Avatar gregiank says:

    @jaybird– ahh yeah okay…But who are you responding to? My point was that Williams is just the latest in a line of firings over controversial statements and that the “rules” for what gets somebody fired are a bit….odd.

    I don’t particularly think one statement should ever be grounds for firing unless it is really way , way out there. but on the other hand these are all businesses who can employ any damn person they want, so its up to them.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to gregiank says:

      @gregiank, the “rules” for what gets somebody fired appear to be related to how many letters the ombudsman gets.

      The NPR ombudsman said that they get a lot of emails about Juan Williams and how he’s a lightning rod.


      If you want someone fired, you have to write letters. Get writing. Get your friends to write.

      These are the same rules for the Dixie Chicks vs. Ted Nugent. They both said dismissive things about the president and the Chicks got boycotted off of radio and Ted Nugent, for all I know, is still being played. Why is this? It’s because Dixie Chicks fans wrote letters complaining about the Dixie Chicks and *THEN WITHHELD SUPPORT*. Ted Nugent fans did *NOT* do this. The Chicks went on break up and relaunch themselves without Natalie as “The Court Yard Hounds”.

      I don’t know how much clearer to say this: If you want to support such-and-such, then buy their products. Buy the cd, buy the concert ticket, and buy the t-shirt once at the venue ($35 bucks for a t-shirt???). If you want to see someone fired, write a letter.

      Juan Williams got fired because he got a lot of letters screaming for his head. (How many letters do you think they got defending him?)
      How many letters do you think Fox is getting over whatshisface? (And how many letters do you think they get defending him?)

      I say to you once again:

      If you want your voice heard, start writing letters. Those letters are why the “rules” seem loopy.Report

      • Avatar gregiank in reply to Jaybird says:

        @Jaybird, why exactly do you think i care about who gets fired? Was i calling for anybodies head?

        Its far more then letters that get people fired. Sponsors pulling out maybe, but before any bigshot gets fired they will be told to chill. And why isn’t responding to outraged letters from customers just good business.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Jaybird says:

        @Jaybird, There’s hope for tomorrow
        In waking up today

        —Ted Nugent
        Great White Buffalo

      • Avatar Plinko in reply to Jaybird says:

        @Jaybird, If my facebook feed is any indication, they’re getting a lot of flak now for firing him from fans who disagree. This is the flipside of doing something because you got angry letters from .001% of your listenership.
        People who thought it was OK or right or that liked JW enough to let it go would never write in at all, who fires off an e-mail to tell NPR ‘one of your correspondents had a perfectly inoffensive bit on Fox News the other day’? But once they fire him, now is the time for folks to voice their displeasure the opposite way.
        That said, I was fine with the firing. I think it’s quite likely he was already on edge with management and this served as a convenient excuse to cut bait. The guy represents NPR when he’s on FOX, for better or worse, and he made some controversial statements that upset some listeners and management didn’t want a part of. Further, whatever the context, the part that CAP excerpted does strike me as offensive, not the admission that he gets a funny feeling, it’s this part:
        “I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country.”
        The feelings are bigoted, understandable, yes, but still bigoted. That’s what bigotry is. And the idea that JW is incapable of bigotry because he wrote books about the Civil Rights movement is nonsense.

        I’m sticking with TNC on this:
        “I’m all for free speech. But I would not expect my current employer to allow me to use this space to vent, as fact, all the prejudiced thoughts that fly through my head. I guess I understand how you come to believe that someone in Muslim dress is less American, or that Michelle Obama is actually “Stokely Carmichael in a dress.” But I’m not clear on why, in this era of blogs and social media, NPR then owes you their association. ”

        The Sherrod affair is different, she was the target of a smear campaign where the real video wasn’t out there for a while and fired by a government agency for political reasons, JW got fired by a non-profit where the complete video is readily available and surely seen by NPR management. It’s completely not comparable.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Plinko says:

          @Plinko, Hey, fair enough. I’m not surprised that NPR is getting a lot of crap for firing Juan Williams. (Honestly, the ombudsman calling him a “lightning rod” gave me a grin… he’s the most milquetoast guy in the world. Trying to imagine someone who sees him as incendiarytaxes my imagination.)

          I’m *NOT* saying that NPR shouldn’t have fired him. They can hire/fire whomever they want.

          I do think that firing him under these circumstances will result in a shitstorm that the NPR brass ought to have foreseen. What Juan Williams said was a Kinsley gaffe… he told the truth.

          Now the NPR folks get to say that, hey, it wasn’t just because of this one incident that they fired him, this was the straw, the right-wingers get to point to NPR and explain, once again, how out of touch NPR is from mainstream America, and we get to argue meta-points about it.

          For instance: I think that NPR’s funding is actually likely to get pulled following this.Report

        • Avatar Plinko in reply to Plinko says:

          @Plinko, I think you’re probably right about the first part – that it will cause a bigger storm that what he said did. About the second, I would say odds are essentially zero.Report

  9. Avatar Jake says:

    Shorter ED Kain ” ridiculous nonsense about political correctness, free speech, left-vs-right, etc. etc. ad nauseum.”Report

  10. Avatar gregiank says:

    @jaybird- well i’d add that on Fox you can trash Muslims all you want, Jews are pretty much off limits anyplace and CNN just sucks.
    Atheists/agnostics are free game.Report

  11. Avatar ow says:

    I do wonder if this is more contrived than one might think. At the end of the day, Williams got a hefty paycheck from Fox and a ton of attention.Report