It didn't take long for the predictable to happen when NPR canned faux liberal Juan Williams. Fox's Bill O'Reilly, perennial GOP gadfly Newt Gingrich, and Tea Party grand mistress Sarah Palin, and the shrill pack of rightwing talk show hacks, and bloggers screamed bloody murder and demanded that so called "left leaning" NPR be defunded. If that's not enough now we have Jim DeMint saber-rattling for the network to be defunded. And even Whoopi Goldberg embarrassing herself by saying that NPR made a mistake. Keep in mind this is the same Goldberg that prattles on about violating the First Amendment by firing Williams but saw no contradiction when she stormed off the The View set recently in indignation at O'Reilly's bigoted remarks.
The First Amendment card and the defund threats are dumb, and hollow. Williams had a right to utter his silly, bigoted crack about Muslims making him nervous. He did and NPR had the right to can him not for the remark but for saying it on another station while still a key fixture at NPR. Whether intended or not, Williams crack carried the implicit endorsement of NPR since he wears that hat as well. Williams long standing play at talking out of both sides of his mouth on right wing commercial Fox and cautious, middle of the road, public network NPR finally caught up with him. It should have long ago.
And that worries me. DeMint, O'Reilly, and Palin's rants, and even Goldberg's (who loves to stir up the controversy pot every chance she gets) blather about Williams are expected. But NPR's possible waffle in the face of their empty threats is cause for alarm. Already NPR has done a tap dance. NPR ombudsman Alicia Shephard claimed that the network handled the William's dump badly and he should have been given a chance to explain. Badly? Explain? Williams was warned time and again that he speaks for himself and not NPR when he does his right wing shtick on Fox. His NPR analyst tag was even snatched from him when he appeared on Fox. And there's no firing under the sun that can ever be handled "goodly."
Williams couldn't have gotten away with this con job without the wink and nod complicity of NPR or maybe the better word is disingenuousness. NPR officials certainly were not clueless about Williams two-faced con. There he was for all to see shaking and nodding his head in agreement with every conservative flack that paraded across the stage on the O'Reilly show and other conservative gab fests on Fox. His confrontational hit style on Fox fit in neatly with the tone, temper and rabid right echo chamber sound box of the network.
For his part Williams is having a field day with the firing, playing the sacrificial lamb role on the altar of "liberal bias" and PC correctness. A victim I might add who was promptly rewarded for his alleged martyrdom with a fat contract. The Palins and DeMints are using Williams as their poster boy to score political points and to further cow the mainstream media into silence on their blathers and inanities. O'Reilly and the shrill pack of right wing talk show hacks are cashing in on the firing to reap a ratings bonanza.
Williams was a fraud and essentially fired himself. NPR need not apologize for getting rid of him. Still the question is will NPR, given it's past shake-in-its-boots terror at having any mention of having a government nickel pulled from its coffers for being "too liberal," cave into Palin, DeMint and company and bring back Williams? Stay tuned on this one.
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