As Juan Williams settles into his $2 million-a-year job as a Fox News talking head, and his former bosses and National Public Radio continue to take heat for the way Williams' contract was terminated, it's worth noting that NPR still faces a Fox News conundrum in the form of Mara Liasson's long-running, on-air affiliation with the cable channel.
When I raised that point last week, the GOP Noise Machine erupted in indignation, claiming Media Matters was trying to silence Liasson and was "targeting" her.
I'm not ominously targeting anyone and I'm not suggesting NPR fire Liasson. (Why would they do that?) All I'm doing now, as I did last year, is highlighting the rather inescapable fact that Liasson's continued on-air association with Fox News runs counter to NPR's own code of ethics.
Indeed, two of the three reasons I'll give for why Liasson's shouldn't be on Fox News come straight from NPR's own newsroom guidelines, which clearly states that staffers should not make outside media appearances in forums that promote punditry, or with media outlets that could be "harmful to the reputation of NPR." In both instances, Liasson's association with Fox News violates both those guidelines. And specifically, her status as a contributor with the uber-partisan, uber-reckless Fox News that's emerged during the Obama administration.
The third reason I offer is more of a common sense/common decency one in that right when the Juan Williams controversy broke, Fox News unleashed a nasty attack campaign against Liasson's employer, spreading all kinds of smears and misinformation about NPR and its staff in an effort to defund and destroy a jewel of public broadcasting. (Fox News' Brit Hume basically called NPR racist for firing Williams.)
Given Fox News' current crusade, I don't see why Liasson, who's been cashing NPR paycheck for two decades, would want to continue to work with a media outlet that now seems bent on discrediting and destroying her employer; and destroying it with a vicious smear campaign. From a professional or personal point of view, why would Liasson want to have anything to do with Fox News and its band of NPR haters who now relentlessly ambush NPR's chief on the street?
But back to the code of ethics. And it was that code that finally prompted NPR brass to terminate Juan Williams' contract. Why? Because he had been warned again and again about going on Fox News and making controversial comments about public issues.
Read the full Media Matters column, here.
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