As you probably know, NPR fired liberal journalist Juan Williams yesterday supposedly for “insensitive” comments he made during one of his regular appearances on Fox News Channel. (If that’s news to you, click here to get caught up.)
There are a number of interesting aspects to this story. One of the most obvious is that this serves as only the most recent reminder that Muslims are rapidly becoming an off-limits, sacrosanct, cannot-be-criticized-under-any-circumstances group. This has already been the case for some time in Canada. (Ask Mark Steyn and his legal bills.)
I’m confident the comments that got Williams canned were merely a quasi-plausible excuse to fire him. After all, his supposedly offensive remark actually prefaced an argument for greater tolerance and accommodation of Muslims. No, His real sin was refusing to stop appearing on Fox News when ordered to do so.
The fact is, both Williams and his NPR colleague Mara Liasson have been under significant pressure for a couple of years to end their relationship with FNC. Indeed, Liasson, NPR’s long-time White House correspondent was confronted directly last December by the bigwigs at NPR and asked to “reconsider her regular appearances” on FNC.
Why? Because Williams’ and Liasson’s high and extensive profile on Fox was making it much more difficult (and more than a little embarrassing) for the tacticians on the Left to carry out their campaign of marginalizing FNC as nothing more than a PR organ for the Republican Party.
The billionaires like George Soros and friends that are funding what amounts to a vast left-wing conspiracy have two flies in their ointment-dream of complete control of the media–Fox News and AM talk radio. They otherwise control the messaging on all the other news outlets, plus the music industry (except for country music). Hollywood can be counted on to fill the scripts of both dramas and comedies with messages the reinforce liberal sensibilities.
But history and human nature remind us that when a tyrant controls almost everything, he becomes all the more enraged about the little thing he cannot possess.
Thus the persistent teeth gnashing and clothes rending over Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.
Is Fox News generally conservative in its editorial approach? Absolutely. It was intentionally launched as a conservative alternative to the uniformly liberally biased new reportage at ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, Headline News, and MSNBC. But it has also kept a remarkable number of left-leaning hosts and participants featured in it’s line up, among them Geraldo Rivera, Greta Van Sustren, Morton Kondracke, and, of course, Williams and Liasson.
Take a look at this clip of Juan Williams launching a pretty ugly attack on Sarah Palin.
Now try to imagine a conservative analyst who routinely offered comparable attacks on a popular liberal figure being regularly invited to appear on MSNBC. Impossible. (A side note: Palin was quick to come to Williams’ defense yesterday, even though he has been a consistent, and frequently harsh, critic of hers.)
The fact is, the token conservatives occasionally trotted on at liberal networks are almost exclusively of either the Pat Buchanan (CNN) or David Brooks (PBS) varieties. That is, the kinds of conservatives that can be counted on to criticize their fellow Republicans much of the time.
On the other hand, FNC has been pretty deliberate about keeping a firewall between their opinion programming (conservatives O’Reilly, Hannity, Beck, and liberal Rivera) and their news coverage (Brit Hume, Chris Wallace, Major Garrett, et. al.)
For example, Fox didn’t let O’Reilly, Beck or Hannity within a country mile of their official election coverage back in 2008. It was handled, as always, by former ABC White House correspondent, Brit Hume with the assistance of the nation’s recognized authority on electoral politics, Michael Barone–flanked by a diverse panel of conservatives, moderates and liberals.)
Contrast that with MSNBC’s coverage. Who did that network put in the anchor chairs to cover the conventions?
Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews.
Or at least did so until the pair’s hyper-partisan cheer leading for the Democrats became so embarrassing, the stockholders and board of directors of NBC’s parent company intervened.
(You may recall that four years earlier MSNBC had liberal Ron Reagan heavily involved in their convention analysis–except for one night. Reagan was off for a portion of one evening because he was the prime time speaker at the Democratic Convention that nominated John Kerry. Breathtaking.)
Embarrassment is also at the heart of Juan Williams’ firing by NPR. The standard liberal talking point is Fox News has no credibility because it is merely a propaganda machine for conservatives and/or Republicans. The presence of Williams, Liasson, Rivera and others makes that tougher to sell to objective independents, especially when those independents have sampled what passes for journalism over at the other cable news outlets.
Ironically, in the wake of NPR’s firing of Williams, Fox News has offered Williams a lucrative deal that will give him an even higher profile on the network, weakening the Fox News-is-monolithically-conservative talking point even further.
Speaking of irony. Here’s a 2002 radio segment by NPR about accusations of liberal bias in the media. The NPR reporter filing this piece? Juan Williams.