Thursday, October 21, 2010

This Was Like Finally Lancing A Boil

Everyone's been so busy parsing out the superficial reasons for NPR's terminationof Juan Williams (political corectness! Muslim-bashing!) that they seem to have missed the real one--this tidbit offered at the end of the NY Times article:
Mr. Williams’s contributions on Fox raised eyebrows at NPR in the past. In February 2009, NPR said it had asked that he stop being identified on “The O’Reilly Factor” as a “senior correspondent for NPR,” even though that title was accurate.

Alicia C. Shepard, the NPR ombudswoman, said at the time that Mr. Williams was a “lightning rod” for the public radio organization in part because he “tends to speak one way on NPR and another on Fox.”

Ms. Shepard said she had received 378 listener e-mails in 2008 listing complaints and frustrations about Mr. Williams.
And one of those e-mails came from my household. Williams long ago gave up any pretense of journalistic integrity, and has been talking out of both sides of his mouth and trashing Democrats for years now. In fact it has amazed us in Riggsvedaland how he managed to hang on to his job this long. He layered his own political views over what should have been unbiased reporting so reliably that while he was still a reporter NPR changed his position to "analyst" to let him keep working. Good riddance. And BTW, wingers, the constitution guarantees that the government, not your employer, must allow you to speak your mind. Williams probably belongs to a union, and can grieve the issue if he wishes. If he doesn't, oh, well, that's life in the brave new right-wing free-market world.

UPDATE: Squirrel!! Clearly the problems facing the country pale beside the firing of some talking head that most of the outraged masses wouldn't have known from Eddie Haskell until last week.

UPDATE 2: And please, enough of this. Williams compromised himself and NPR as journalists practically every fucking time he opened his mouth. Everyday in my real life I work on cases where individuals' civil rights have been violated, and this man was in no way a victim of a) hate speech, or b) an abridgment of his right to free speech. There are certain things I cannot talk about, and things I cannot do, because they will violate my employer's standard for ethical employee actions, things that most other people are allowed to do. This does NOT make me a victim of civil rights violations, and if I repeatedly choose to violate those standards and get canned, that does not make me another Emmett Till. The best and most sensible comment yet made about this was by James Wolcott, who wrote:
When the camera is on Poor Juan, he begins to wobble, unsure of himself, trapped in enemy territory and suffering Hamlet indecision. The war was a bad idea--but we can't pull out, can we?--drilling in Alaska--it's gotta be bad for the caribou or whatever's up there--but these conservatives make a lotta sense--I can't see me driving a solar car anytime soon--oh God now they're going to bring up partial birth abortion--I guess I'm against that but I'm also for a woman's right to choose--I wish the other guys would stop glaring--Brit looks like he's about to snap at me again, and Fred--Fred's snickering again--Fred's always snickering at me!--someday I'm going to stuff those snickers down his throat! Then, his eardrums beating from the pressure of the voices in his head that won't leave him alone, Juan often concedes the argument but shakes his head to show he's not fully convinced, his way of salvaging some scrap of dignity. We will know this pressurized process is complete the day Williams walks into the Washington studio as a black man and walks out as a disgruntled honky--then he'll really blend.
Well, clearly that day has come and such a relief it must be for Williams, able to capitulate to conservative middle-aged white men without having to fret about whatever flak he might get back home at NPR. After his craven flying Muslim comments, which originated let us recall with his deferential pandering to Bill O'Reilly's bullying need for validation, his contract was terminated by NPR and Fox News snapped him up for $2 million. Within 72 hours, Williams has gone from a muddled sincere victim of sound-bite to full Bernie Goldberg blowhard apostate. From Talking Points Memo:
Here's Juan from this morning on the events of recent days: "This is evidence of one-party rule and one sided thinking at NPR that leads to enforced ideology, speech and writing. It leads to people, especially journalists, being sent to the gulag for raising the wrong questions and displaying independence of thought."

One-party rule? The Gulag? The gulag of Fox News chat millionaires.
Well, now he can Uncle Tom to his heart's content and feel like he's Solzhenitsyn.
Oh, and as an aside, I'm finally pretty sick of this asshole and his bipartisan fantasy wanks.