NPR’s decision to fire Juan Williams wasn’t a value judgment based on journalistic ethics. As with politics and apparently NPR, just follow the money trail and you’ll find your answer. And, this answer lies at the feet of NPR and billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
To understand the “why” of all of this, you have to understand the media fight that has been going on between Fox News (especially Glenn Beck) and billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
Soros donated $1M to a media watchdog group called MediaMattters.org. Media Matters spends a lot of time exposing Fox News for misleading and false information. And trust me, there’s a lot of misinformation for them to expose.
Then Soros gave close to $2M to NPR and (connecting the dots) there’s no doubt in my mind that Soros pressured NPR to axe Williams.
NPR wants to play a shell game with “journalistic integrity” and ethics. I’m not buying it. If NPR was so concerned about their precious ethics they would have fired Williams a long time ago, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter to me that NPR sent Fox News a letter asking them not to associate NPR with Williams when introducing Williams. And, it makes no difference to me that NPR bumped Williams’ title from correspondent to analyst. The average listener to NPR wouldn’t care about any of this, unless they knew the back-story. And the average Fox News watcher doesn’t care to know the difference between correspondent, analyst or pundit.
No, NPR knew full well that Williams was appearing on an “opinion” show and, as the saying goes, when in Rome….
What does concern me are the number of good journalists that, for some reason, seem to be willing to push Williams under the “ethics” bus and nudge NPR further up an imaginary pedestal.
So, let’s go back to MediaMatter.org to see if we can gain some insight into all of this.
Back in February, 2009, Williams was criticized by Media Matters for a comment made on The O’Reily Factor talking about Michelle Obama…” you know she’s got this Stokely Carmichael-in-a-designer-dress thing going” (http://mediamatters.org/blog/201010220023).
(The short version) Williams said it (his statement) was taken out of context, Media Matters said it was not. If you go to the Media Matters website, you can hear it for yourself. I side with Williams on this one. Yes, even a watchdog can sometimes get it wrong. But, for the media elite who seem to be so critical of Williams, all of a sudden, there’re using this footage as a “I told ya so” moment. But, in reality, it just isn’t there, you can’t connect those dots.
Some journalists have even criticized Williams’ book “Enough” and said Williams has “lost his way.” Williams hasn’t lost his way or drank too much Fox “kool-aid” as one guy put it (I’ll admit, I haven’t read Williams’ book Enough, but I’m going to read it soon). Williams, like most people, doesn’t see just a one dimensional side to the complexities of life (race, politics, et. al.) and he’s quick to slice and dice the gray areas into understandable pieces.
In the end, thank God for youtube. After watching Juan Williams on Fox, via youtube (cause I don’t watch Faux), one of the related “suggested” videos on the right-hand side is NY Gubernatorial Candidate Jimmy McMillian of “The Rent is Too Damn High” Party. You know, it kind of puts things in perspective.
In the end, George Soros made the $2M rent payment over at NPR, made the $1M rent payment over at MediaMatters.org, then Soros got “ticked off” at Juan Williams, made some phone calls to get him fired from NPR. Why? CAUSE THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH.
But, the rent may not be too damn high for Juan Williams. Fox News picked him up with a $2M/3yr deal. You know there has to be a book deal “cooking” from all of this. Meanwhile, there’s a push to stop funding NPR. And, all of this happened during the NPR “listener donations” drive. Hmm, yea…when you come down to it…it’s all about the money: because it doesn’t matter which side of the fence you’re on you still have to pay the rent.
So, while all of these “top of the food-chain” professional, ethical journalists debate the moral standards of NPR with politically correct “pretty words”; the “real” heavy hitters are quietly taking the checks to the bank.
And, the world keeps on turning…cause the rent is always going to be too damn high.