Is Fox News more tolerant than NPR?

posted at 9:57 am on October 22, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

So says Michael Barone in a must-read analysis of the firing of Juan Williams.  But don’t take his word for it, because NPR’s omsbud says essentially the same thing in NPR’s defense.  First, let’s start with conservative analyst Barone, a long-time friend of Williams and also a Fox News contributor:

I’ve known Juan Williams for 28 years. In 1982, when I joined the Washington Post’s editorial page staff, I took over what had been Juan’s office and his telephone number, as he was moving from the editorial side of the paper back to the news side. In the preceding weeks, Juan had been working on stories about prostitution in Washington, and during the first several weeks I received some pretty weird telephone calls—something we’ve laughed about ever since. Over the years I’ve admired Juan’s journalism and  his excellent books—a history of the civil rights movement, a biography of Justice Thurgood Marshall. Most of all I admired him for writing Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America–and What We Can Do About It, which I think was a national service—and one that exposed him to a lot of criticism. He has faced all that with steadiness which is apparent in his angry but measured response to his firing today.

Reading between the lines of Juan’s statement and those of NPR officials, it’s apparent that NPR was moved to fire Juan because he irritates so many people in its audience. An interesting contrast: while many NPR listeners apparently could not stomach that Williams also appeared on Fox News. But it doesn’t seem that any perceptible number of Fox News viewers had any complaints that Williams also worked for NPR. The Fox audience seems to be more tolerant of diversity than the NPR audience.

The right-wing intolerants of Fox News’ audience didn’t complain as much about an explicitly liberal commentator on Fox as the tolerant, diverse audience at NPR did?  Barone has to be joking, right?  Not according to NPR, where omsbud Alicia Shepard tried claiming that Williams had been the radio network’s biggest problem for years:

In 2008, I received 378 emails complaining about remarks Williams made on Fox – but I heard very little about his comments on NPR. My February 2009 blog post on the Stokely Carmichael incident drew 216 comments – many asking why NPR put up with Williams’ dual role.

In fact, since I became Ombudsman in October 2007, no other NPR employee has generated as much controversy as Williams.

That said, Williams provided a valuable voice on NPR.  His long experience as a journalist and background as an authority on the Civil Rights movement enabled him to offer insights that often enriched the network’s reporting.

Ultimately, however, it seems management felt he had become more of a liability than an asset. Unfortunately, I agree.

So …. it’s safe to say that Williams’ appearances on NPR weren’t a problem at all.  NPR’s entire problem with Williams is that he shared his liberal perspective with the supposedly intolerant right-wing audience at Fox News, where people enjoyed an actual debate.  It’s also pretty clear that NPR was looking for a reason to cut Williams, and leaped at what appeared on the surface to be their best opportunity without actually watching the whole clip and hearing the context of Williams’ remarks, which actually argued against the point of what Bill O’Reilly was making.

And so we have the rather amusing, if destructive, spectacle of a radio network casting out a true believer solely because he dared to take the faith outside the chosen circle.  NPR insists that it hosts the most diverse forums for political debate, but based on their own actions, they’re not interested in diversity or even debate.  Rather than relish having a liberal point of view presented in what they see as a conservative forum, they prefer to keep their liberal point of view within the compound — and so do their listeners.

For another perspective on this, Sean Hannity welcomed Dana Perino and Bob Beckel onto his show last night to discuss NPR’s treatment of Williams.  Will Beckel become persona non grata at NPR after admitting to the same uneasiness that Williams disclosed, and for which NPR fired their eleven-year correspondent?



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Comment pages: 1 2

The only problem I have with Jaun’s firing is that it did not come on the same day that all NPR personnel were fired.

We are broke. defund all nonessential government programs NOW!

esnap on October 22, 2010 at 1:14 PM

My wife asked me last night if I thought that the NPR firing would make Williams more conservative. I replied, “Well, he just got mugged.”

From the ABC News story:

Williams – who just got a $2 million deal for three years with Fox News – said it is making him rethink his previous beliefs about the left wing.

“I’ve always thought the right wing were ones that were inflexible and intolerant and now I’m coming to realize that the orthodoxy at NPR, it’s representing the left,” he said.

Owen Glendower on October 22, 2010 at 1:26 PM

Is Fox News more tolerant than NPR?

Obviously.

Y-not on October 22, 2010 at 1:38 PM

Every time Juan’s face appears on Fox…..it will be the face that reminds people of PC gone wild and the blatant bias coming out of liberal institutions that yell about it the most.

Baxter Greene on October 22, 2010 at 12:13 PM

Baxter Greene: Now thats a great point,btw,that was said,
the Afro comment,earlier this morning with
Bill Hemmer talking to Juan!!:)

canopfor on October 22, 2010 at 1:47 PM

Meanwhile Geraldo is saying “hey what am I, chopped liver?”

slickwillie2001 on October 22, 2010 at 2:02 PM

The funny thing is, 99% of the time Juan Williams opens his mouth on FOX I’m scratching my head thinking “he doesn’t really believe THAT, no one is that batsh!t lefty loony crazy”.

Point being, if they think Juan is too conservative…where the hell are their heads at?! Scary.

Alden Pyle on October 22, 2010 at 2:07 PM

NPR insists that it hosts the most diverse forums for political debate, but based on their own actions, they’re not interested in diversity or even debate. Rather than relish having a liberal point of view presented in what they see as a conservative forum, they prefer to keep their liberal point of view within the compound — and so do their listeners.

I will refrain from making any comments about “going off the reservation plantation,” as they would be inappropriate, though accurate, especially in light of NPR’s “crossing the line” comment.

Owen Glendower on October 22, 2010 at 2:16 PM

As the charges of racism no longer have the same power over us, I’m hoping the same thing kicks in with political correctness which has run amuck. I haven’t been a fan of O’Reilly’s the last couple of years, but do like his perspective on the PC foolishness. May it rub off on all the rest of us until we say “enough”. PC has done more harm to this country than we can imagine. It is time for it to stop or it will get us all killed.

silvernana on October 22, 2010 at 2:29 PM

canopfor on October 22, 2010 at 10:33 AM

Informative. Checking the donor list FY2008 and comparing the federal grants for 2010, I have to wonder–and these examples are for NPR directly, not counting all the assorted grants to the “member stations” from which they get much of their funding :
National Telecommunications and Information Administration (U.S. Department of Commerce)
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (U.S. Department of Education)
National Endowment for the Arts (naturally)

I’ve noted some corporate sponsors that need a piece of my mind, too…turn about being fair play and all.

VerbumSap on October 22, 2010 at 3:25 PM

Meanwhile Geraldo is saying “hey what am I, chopped liver?”

slickwillie2001 on October 22, 2010 at 2:02 PM

Geraldo gets to work with Kimberly Guilfoyle… payment enough!!

Khun Joe on October 22, 2010 at 3:28 PM

Many thanks to NPR for firing Juan Williams. They have cooked their own goose and now will probably lose all their federal funding as well as the donations from many listeners. By their stupid actions, NPR has brought forward the issues of liberal eletism and federal funding of left wing media just 10 days before the elections.

I watch Juan Williams regularily on FOX News. I don’t often agree with his positions on the issues but I regard him as a man of integrity and knowledge. I am happy that he will continue to be a fixture on FOX news.

RUDYJ on October 22, 2010 at 3:30 PM

Watch the whole initial segment that started this whole thing if you want to understand the REAL reason why Williams was fired.

It wasn’t because of his comments about his feelings when getting on an airplane. They won’t tell you the real reason for firing him, because the rules forbid it. Like Fight Club, the first rule is “you don’t talk about it”.

He was fired because of what he said about political correctness. That is the statement that is completely inconsistent with the editorial positions of NPR. It isn’t the first time that he has done so, but this time he provided an additional “scapegoat” reason that they could hang the firing on.

NPR and their ilk cannot countenance anyone in their fold running down political correctness. It is their equivalent of a religion. Juan’s statements make him the equivalent of a heretic… an apostate. That cannot be tolerated.

Read the NPR statement regarding his firing with that notion in mind, and it all makes sense, without any inconsistencies having to be invoked.

VekTor on October 22, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Fox and NPR are entirely different. Fox is agenda driven and partisan and NPR has strict rules on neutrality. Recently NPR informed staff they could not attend the Restore Sanity Rally. That’s not intolerant, it is part of how they maintain a fair and balanced reporting while FOX and MSNBC become echo chambers for their mutually exclusive agendas. FOX and MSNBC are worthless for news and you almost have to watch both to get a full picture of what is going on and even then you miss out loads of stories which are not partisan but important.

Having said that, they handled Juan’s termination terribly and it reflects badly on the organization.

lexhamfox on October 22, 2010 at 3:47 PM

Fox is agenda driven and partisan and NPR has strict rules on neutrality.
lexhamfox on October 22, 2010 at 3:47 PM

Auditioning your comedy act?

rrpjr on October 22, 2010 at 3:51 PM

In the end this will come back to haunt NPR–it can’t miss. We already knew how one sided it was and now it cannot be denied by anyone unless they want to make a fool of themselves. I wonder if the lefty media will ever figure out how often and how strongly they keep shooting themselves in their feet. Not yet apparently.

jeanie on October 22, 2010 at 5:19 PM

Until FOX News covers the likes of Michael Savage, NO. Fox is not more “tolerant” than NPR. It isn’t as if Juan Williams wasn’t already working for Fox. It isn’t as if Juan Williams ever discredited Fox as a reliably “balanced” news source, challenging Fox to views not already espoused in the Fox political complexion. This new contract is purely opportunistic on Fox’s part. Fox is not going to suffer any loss of viewers by giving Williams a larger role and larger pay check. And they look so “nice” with the gesture.

Morons need not argue that I discredit Fox for taking advantage of this situation for their own profit. It is what it is; that’s all.
maverick muse on October 22, 2010 at 10:18 AM

Oh, this is something you can prove, right? :roll: Cynics like you obviously lead unhappy lives, and can’t understand normal humans very well.

Fox is more tolerant than NPR by the very definition of “tolerant”; Fox isn’t afraid to let Leftists freely express their points of view on it’s network, unlike NPR, NBC, ABC, CBS, etc.

Just because Fox doesn’t often have every toxic, incivil egomaniac who wants to be on it whenever they want, like Savage, Schlussel, Olberwomann, or Fred Phelps, doesn’t mean it’s intolerant at all; it just shows they have discriminating taste, which is a good thing.

Bizarro No. 1 on October 22, 2010 at 5:33 PM

Liberals are intolerant.

I love it.

I’ve felt for a long time that liberal philosophy uses projection, accusing others of what they themselves are guilty of.

Turning a standard liberal weapon back against them, and doing it truthfully unlike their “ends justifies the means mentality” is truly sweet.

scotash on October 22, 2010 at 6:24 PM

I replied, “Well, he just got mugged.”

Owen Glendower on October 22, 2010 at 1:26 PM

Not quite. It was more like a high tech lynching.

unclesmrgol on October 22, 2010 at 6:38 PM

Having said that, they handled Juan’s termination terribly and it reflects badly on the organization.

lexhamfox on October 22, 2010 at 3:47 PM

Heh. So how does Fox rank now that they’ve hired Williams?

unclesmrgol on October 22, 2010 at 6:40 PM

What business of NPR’s is it what Juan Williams says on Fox? She should have told all the people complaining about him that it’s a creepy, underhanded thing to do to go after a person’s job just because you don’t like what he says on another network. Or is NPR not really all that independent and objective?

Maybe Fox viewers ought to demand that Mara Liasson leave NPR or get fired from Fox! Like that would have any effect.

flataffect on October 22, 2010 at 6:50 PM

Fox is agenda driven and partisan and NPR has strict rules on neutrality.
lexhamfox on October 22, 2010 at 3:47 PM

Auditioning your comedy act?

rrpjr on October 22, 2010 at 3:51 PM

Uh, Lex? Don’t quit your day job.

Timothy S. Carlson on October 23, 2010 at 9:18 PM

I know why NPR didn’t want Juan on Fox – because when liberals spew their wacky liberal ideas without the backdrop of other liberals to help make the idea sound less wacky, then that removes the veil from the goat. And heavens, a liberal should not be exposed to strong sunlight, like Juan was doing on Fox News.

Timothy S. Carlson on October 23, 2010 at 9:22 PM

Comment pages: 1 2