Krauthammer to Nina Totenberg: Why did NPR fire Juan Williams but not you?

posted at 7:30 pm on October 23, 2010 by Allahpundit

He’s too much of a mensch to mention her most notorious bon mot, about Jesse Helms — or one of his grandkids — maybe deserving a little AIDS in the ol’ bloodstream as a matter of divine justice. I think they both have that quote in mind here, though, which explains why Totenberg is palpably uncomfortable with NPR’s sudden sticklerism about “analysts” offering controversial opinions in public. In fact, near as I can tell, not a single member of NPR thus far has been willing to call Williams’s firing an unvarnished triumph. And that includes the dummy responsible for the now infamous line about him maybe needing to consult with his shrink:

Even NPR’s own staff expressed exasperation at the decision during a meeting Friday with NPR’s president, Vivian Schiller. Several of those who attended said Schiller told employees that she regretted how she handled the episode…

In a meeting with employees that had been scheduled before the Williams story broke, Schiller acknowledged that NPR didn’t manage the firing well, but offered no specifics. She said NPR would conduct a “post-mortem” next week to review how the firing was handled, according to employees who attended the meeting, which was closed to the news media. Schiller didn’t say who would handle the review or what the consequences of it might be…

“There wasn’t anger” among NPR employees at the meeting, “but I did get a sense of despair and disappointment,” said one NPR journalist, who asked not to be named because employees are not authorized to speak on the record about the matter. “I got the impression that [management] felt they had acted rashly and without deliberation. When [Schiller] made the psychiatrist crack, it just made matters much, much worse.”

Schiller reiterated the company line about Williams violating journalistic ethics in an interview with the Times (in which she also insisted that NPR is sometimes accused of … catering to conservatives), then went on to say that the board of directors is completely behind the decision to fire him. Is that right? Hmmm:

“I agree with the principle, but am not happy with the execution,” Robert Gordon, an NPR board member and president of Nashville Public Radio, said after Williams was fired over comments about Muslims that he made on Fox News.

“The execution was very poorly timed. You have a lot of stations who are in fund drive mode now and that’s making it difficult.”…

“I’ve gotten a lot of calls and a lot of e-mails, and in fact, more than we’ve gotten about anything else,” Gordon said. “We’ve had a few people make donations in support of the decision, but more decided not to support us.”

I wouldn’t worry if I were him; as Jesse Walker reminds us, GOP threats to defund public broadcasting are evergreen but never go anywhere. Then again, this time could be different for the reason Andy McCarthy says: If the new tea party Congress doesn’t have the guts to pull the plug on NPR, how will they ever have the guts to defund ObamaCare? Exit question: Is NPR about to become a test case of Republican mettle among the base? Click the image to watch.

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