* * * * * * *
A few quick thoughts about the Juan Williams imbroglio at NPR:
- As Williams himself has said, there can be no doubt but that NPR was itching to rid itself of Williams, who appeared regularly on the undeniably right-wing Fox News as a commentator.
- The company line that NPR analysts “should not participate in shows . . . that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis” is a crock of bull. NPR’s justice correspondent Nina Totenberg appears regularly on Inside Washington, the successor to the old Agronsky and Company. That show, which is the very embodiment of punditry and speculation, showcases the political views of its panelists, which in Totenberg’s case is decidedly left-of-center.
- The comment by the NPR CEO that Williams’ reaction should have been “between him and his psychiatrist or his publicist” just shows how petty and mean-spirited these people can be. Maybe the CEO should fire herself?
- This was a business decision by NPR. Company executives are certainly free to have whomever they want on their team, but their actions have spurred a movement to eliminate the network’s federal funding, which I am told amounts to about $3 million or roughly 2% of its annual budget. Is that what they wanted?
- But it might also be good for business. NPR is about to embark on another pledge drive. Will Williams’ firing motivate the Fox-hating, left-of-center listenership to open its wallets? Stay tuned …