Often it is liberals who think of the uneducated masses in rural areas of America as inbred, or having some genetic defect. But Juan Williams, former NPR news commentator, reserved the words for the climate at NPR, partly as a result of his firing for some candid comments he made about flying on airplanes with Muslims.
Often it is liberals who think of the uneducated masses in rural areas of America as inbred, or having some genetic defect. But Juan Williams, former NPR news commentator, reserved the words for the climate at NPR, partly as a result of his firing for some candid comments he made about flying on airplanes with Muslims. Williams was fired in October of last year. He made the comments about NPR as a result of a video made public by James O’Keefe and The Project Veritas. It was recorded during a fake lunch meeting, an undercover sting operation Feb. 22. The video featured two disguised reporters and a hidden camera interviewing two high level officials at NPR: Ron Schilller, president of NPR Foundation and senior VP Development, NPR, and Betsey Liley, senior director, Institutional Giving, NPR. During the meeting, Schiller was open about funding for NPR, and even suggested that the agency would be better off without federal funding in the long run. Schiller said the NPR powers that be had to fire Williams because of his comments. “What NPR did I’m very proud of,” he says.Williams describes NPR as condescending and racist, but says the firing of people who may be responsible for the liberal straight-jacket thinking at the news agency may be a good thing for NPR.
Williams was fired by Ellen Weiss, senior VP for news, NPR. He said Weiss, who resigned Jan. 7, was someone who had “the executioner’s knife” for people who did not “abide by one single way of thinking." “She represented a very ingrown, incestuous culture in that institution,” he said. “She was angry at the fact that I would even be on Fox (News Channel),” he said. “Or that I might have a conservative perspective and that it might emerge on Fox (News Channnel) or at NPR.” Williams said it was Weiss who called him a bigot for speaking his mind about getting on a plane, and being concerned about seeing Muslims. “I think what I had crossed was her politically correct line in the sand,” he said. “They have a culture there that is not open to real news, to the real world around us and the to the many perspectives and life stories that animate life in America,” Williams said. “The whole idea was to make me appear that I was not only a lunatic, but that I was a loose canon and not a professional news person.” Willams added that Weiss, during her tenure, was "pushing out" anybody who had a different point of view about the world or the news. He recalled the history of NPR, that it started on college campuses as left-wing radio station - and has since grown into a major news organization.
Weiss has been there that whole time, he said. “She has kept her pals, her friends, who all think alike," he said. "It has become highly ingrown, if not incestuous in terms of her perspective." It is a very difficult environment in which to report the news, Williams said, comparing it to Pravda.
To add insult to injury, during a press conference soon after the firing, Vivian Schiller (no relation to Ron Schiller), NPR CEO remarked that people may need to refer to Williams' psychiatrist to find out why he made the comments. Schiller was candid about the funding of NPR, including that in the long run, NPR would be better off without federal funding. It is a prophecy that may come true, to the detriment of many local NPR stations that depend on federal funding. The total station “economy” for NPR is $800 million. Of that, about $90 million comes from the federal government. But the secretly taped interview was also shocking in how Schiller described the Tea Party, saying it is “fanatically involved in people’s lives - very fundamental Christian - I wouldn’t even call it a Christian - this weird evangelical kind of move(ment).” He adds that the Tea Party has too much, or undue influence over the Republican Party. “(The Republican Party) has been hijacked by this group.” Again, he states, the Tea Party is not only Islamophobic, but “white, middle-class, gun-toting - I mean it’s scary - they’re seriously racist people.”
The video revelation, posted on the Project Veritas web site, resulted in the resignation of both Schillers March 9. In a statement, Schiller said his quotes during the interview “are counter to NPR’s values and also not reflective of my own beliefs.” The problem with his prepared statement, while seeking to lessen the effect of his video interview, is that it is not accurate. He was obviously sincere while relaxing at Cafe Milano in Washington, D.C. with the reporters from Project Veritas. NPR stands for “non-racist, non-bigoted straightforward telling of the news,” he said during the candid interview. “Our feeling is that if a person expresses his or her opinion . . . they are compromised as a journalist, they can no longer fairly report.” “Can he report to the Muslim population and be believed, and the answer is no.”
He lost all credibility and that breaks your basic ethics as a journalist, Schiller said. Unfortunately, the views of the Schillers are probably identical to those held by journalists who work at NPR, those who listen to NPR. A view of comments posted on the Huffington Post web site following the incident shows that many believe the comments by Schiller regarding the Tea Party to be accurate.
The two reporters with Project Veritas, posed as representatives from the Muslim Education Action Center, a fictitious not-for-profit organization. Their organization names are Ibrahim Kasaan and Amir Malik. MEAC, with a web site, is described as a group with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, a well-known radical Muslim organization that is active in Egypt and other predominantly Muslim or Islamic countries. The group also openly purported to support the spread of Sharia law across the world. But rather than find out more about their connection to the Muslim Brotherhood, Schiller complains about the lack of Muslim voices in American schools, on the air, etc., comparing the void to a time when women were not represented in America. Liley, who says little during the lunch, compares Muslims living in America with the internment of Japanese during World War II. “We put Japanese Americans in camps in World War II,” she says. The reporters also commend NPR for their bias in favor of radical elements of both Hamas and Hezbollah, including radical Muslim Rashid Khalidi.
They describe NPR as National Palestinian Radio, which brings a laugh from both Schiller and Liley.
Liley responds: “Oh Really. That’s good. I like that.” Schiller says one of the biggest NPR funders is American Jewish World Service. “(They) May not agree with what we put on the air. They find us important to them,” Schiller says. “NPR is one of the few places - broadcasts that has the courage to present it,” Schiller said. “Sometimes it’ not easy to hear what we say . . .” It may not have been easy to hear what Schiller said during his lunch meeting. At the same time, this should not be a shock to conservatives. Most who listen to NPR are aware of the liberal bias. Yet, it is the degree of sincere belief about these ideals that should cause reasonable people to ponder why the the federal government, taxpayers, continue to fund this organization.
© 2011 Larry Ingram
Based in St Louis,
Larry Ingram writes about the news media, movies and culture, as well as on topics like race, privilege, Christianity, religious expression and tolerance.
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