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Friday, October 22, 2010

The Juan Williams Kerfuffle

Juan Williams got fired from National Public Radio for saying this on Bill O'Reilly's Fox TV show:

The move came after Mr. Williams, who is also a Fox News political analyst, appeared on the “The O’Reilly Factor” on Monday. On the show, the host, Bill O’Reilly, asked him to respond to the notion that the United States was facing a “Muslim dilemma.” Mr. O’Reilly said, “The cold truth is that in the world today jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet.”

Mr. Williams said he concurred with Mr. O’Reilly.

He continued: “I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

Mr. Williams also made reference to the Pakistani immigrant who pleaded guilty this month to trying to plant a car bomb in Times Square. “He said the war with Muslims, America’s war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts,” Mr. Williams said.

NPR said in its statement that the remarks “were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.”

I have a few thoughts:

  • Ed Morissey notes that "Williams used that personal observation as a springboard to discuss the dangers of generalization." Evidently NPR's editorial standards include taking statements out of context.
  • As Michelle Malkin notes that wishing death on Rush Limbaugh won't get you fired from NPR.
  • In 1995, wishing AIDS on Jesse Helms wasn't a firing offense at NPR, either. (Link via James Taranto)
  • Does NPR have those standards in writing? They should. If one of them is "a journalist under our employ may not champion prejudice on this medium or another," then Williams has solid ground to sue, since he was doing the opposite.
  • While there may be some folks (maybe more than just a few) who get nervous seeing Islamic dress in an airplane, they get even more nervous when it's coupled with outlandish behavior. Don't do weird stuff in an airplane, whether you're Muslim or not.
  • Juan Williams should try to get a gig with MSNBC. that network employs Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, so their standards are pretty lax. Unfortunately, so are their ratings - but hey, a job's a job.

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