Is NPR racist and elitist?
That’s the charge being leveled at the taxpayer-subsidized broadcasting company by Juan Williams in a new book, Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate.
…Williams details a decade of what he said was NPR’s effort to “censor, control and belittle” him because of his longstanding relationship with Fox News, and, to some degree, he said, his race.
“It is a very elitist and in this case white institution that I think is struggling with the changing demographics of American society,” Williams said, according to Politico.
Williams said NPR also “struggles with the idea that there are capable thinkers and journalist and people who don’t fit into some box.”
Last October, Williams was fired from NPR for honestly answering a question put to him by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. Unfortunately for Williams, his politically-incorrect answer was too much for NPR to tolerate.
At the time, Williams told O’Reilly:
“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. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”
Williams’ firing caused a firestorm of criticism from conservatives.
Brent Bozell, President of the Media Research Center, said NPR was doing the “bidding of George Soros”, while conservative columnist Michelle Malkin wrote that NPR “undermined whatever credibility it had left.”
Ultimately, Williams landed a position at Fox News, and the NPR executive who fired him resigned.
Williams wrote in his book that “it was clear they wanted me out the door.” The reason, he writes, is that an NPR news executive told him, “because I did not fit their view of how a black person thinks.”
But Politico reports that NPR has a different view of Williams’ tenure at NPR.
“Diversity of opinions, ideas, sources, voices, and staff is very important to NPR, as evidenced by the work we do and the people who do it,” spokeswoman Anna Christopher said.
But many conservatives view NPR as nothing more than a federally funded liberal media outlet somewhat reminiscent of Soviet-era state-run Pravda where conservative voices are rarely – if ever – heard.
“When it served their purpose,” he writes, “NPR officials were all too happy to use my connection to Fox.” Later, when Elena Kagan was nominated to the Supreme Court, Williams was suddenly much in demand as the author of a biography of Justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom Kagan had clerked. But when he pitched a piece on it to NPR, he was told there was no room for “a Juan Williams piece.”
Williams writes that Fox News does look for the conservative slant in their stories, but also notes that political correctness – defined as a strict adherence to political dogma – is “back with a vengeance”:
“You are not supposed to say certain things in political conversation and I think it is political correctness, like the walking dead, back from the grave,” he said. “Left and right it is all around us. I don’t think most people identify it as the political correctness of the 60s, but believe me, it is back with a vengeance.”
Williams says the network is skewed because of its donors – one of whom is George Soros, whose Open Society Foundation gave $1.8 million to NPR the same week Williams was fired.
NPR, however, called the claim outrageous, according to Politico:
“This is an outrageous claim, and it couldn’t be further from the truth,” she said. “We make all editorial decisions based on a story’s importance and news value. Period. Further, there is a very clear firewall between underwriters and donors and NPR’s journalism – always has, always will be.”
Politico writes that Williams’ “most stinging criticism of NPR” is its’ arrogance:
“I think the ethos was one in which we operated at a higher level, and people who don’t understand it, and don’t appreciate it, they are the ones that are not as smart, or as well-informed, or as well-educated as we are,” he said. “They felt that they were superior. Is that always liberal? It turns out that in NPR’s case, yes.”
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