Thursday, November 18, 2010

Is Journalism Dead?

Often times in recent years your faithful Peasant has pondered
this question which is the title of this offering to you, my
tremendous readers. With the clear and pronounced bias
exhibited by much of the U.S. media, which embraces
the political left and its adherents, there appear to be
fewer journalists and more apologists in American
journalism. Last month, an incident occurred which has
triggered my concern anew.

Juan Williams, a nationally-known and respected journalist
who has of late been a news analyst with NPR (National
Public Radio), was fired by this media organization on
October 20 over comments Williams made while appearing
on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, hosted by conservative
commentator Bill O'Reilly. What, you may ask, did Juan
Williams say that was so awful so as to cost him his job?
His admission that he gets "nervous" when he sees Muslims
in traditional Muslim garb board planes. NPR announced
that "His remarks on the O'Reilly Factor this past Monday
were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices,
and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR."
Gee, that's rich, coming from a media outfit renown for its
stoutly left-wing point of view with which they routinely
imbue their stories. Williams, no rock-ribbed Reaganite,
simply voiced a concern shared by so many of us when
we travel by air; it was, after all, radical Muslim terrorists
who hijacked three of our passenger jets on that fateful
morning in September 2001, flying two of them into
the World Trade Center Towers while the third crashed
on an open field in Pennsylvania.

Williams shared that he was most upset over NPR CEO
Vivian Schiller's comment that he should have shared his
remarks "with his psychiatrist or publicist." Apparently
Schiller believes that anyone worried about their safety
while flying with people clad in traditional Muslim clothing
must be not only bigoted but crazy as well. Schiller has since
apologized for the way she handled Williams' dismissal
but also defended the decision to give him his walking papers.
The sacking precipitated a backlash, with conservative
politicians and commentators calling for the U.S. government
to defund NPR. Your favorite Peasant has long advocated
this measure; why should we be made to subsidize with our
tax monies an organization which promotes a point of view
which many of us do not share, under the guise of journalism?
For what NPR does is not journalism but advocacy.

After Williams' firing, he stated "At NPR ... they don't know
this: that one-third of the audience for Bill O'Reilly's show is
made up of people of color," adding "At NPR, they think,
'Oh, these people who watch Fox don't appreciate diversity
of opinion, they're not smart people. They're not informed
people.' Oh yeah? I'll tell you what: They're informed!"
This from a staunch liberal!

Williams went on: "Just consider the idea that Fox allows
me the opportunity to sit in for Bill O'Reilly on their #1
show ... That's the franchise. That's the moneymaker.
If that show falls into the toilet, it's bad for the lineup.
And yet Fox allows a black guy with a Hispanic name
to sit in the big chair and host the show." This in addition
to all the times Juan Williams has been a guest on the
Factor. At the time of his firing, Williams was the lone
black male that NPR had on their roster. And he got
canned like tuna for expressing a concern shared by
many air travelers but denigrated as being  "politically
incorrect" by the liberal establishmentarians in charge
of NPR as well as most of our country's media.

In fact, in a piece Williams posted on Fox News'
website he explained that he shared his fears on
the Factor "in order to (make) the case for not
making rash judgments about people of any faith
... and I made it clear that all Americans have to be
careful not to let fear lead to the violation of anyone's
constitutional rights ... This was an honest, sensitive
debate hosted by O'Reilly." Williams made it plain
that, in the case of Muslim passengers, one must
distinguish between the radical Muslims and the
rest when discussing people of that faith.

Yet two days after the show Ellen Weiss, Williams'
immediate boss at NPR, phoned him to say that
he had "crossed the line, essentially accusing (him)
of bigotry" and informed Williams that "(he) had
violated NPR's values for editorial commentary"
and that his contract with NPR was terminated.
Weiss didn't even have the decency to summon
Williams to her office to tell him face to face that
he was being shown the door. And it made no
difference that Williams did not make his comments
on NPR. When Williams asked Weiss why she
would fire him without speaking with him face to
face, Weiss responded that the decision to
terminate Williams' contract was made above her,
"so there was no point in meeting in person."

Williams then remarked "To say the least this is
a chilling assault on free speech." Your loyal
Peasant couldn't put it more aptly. This is now
the price in our society for not being sufficiently
liberal. If you voice an opinion, a thought, or a
feeling which fails to meet muster for political
correctness, you will face opprobrium, condem-
nation, and possibly an interruption in or the ter-
mination of your livelihood, especially if you work
in the media field.

This story, however, does have a happy ending:
Juan Williams was hired almost immediately after
his ouster from NPR by Fox News as a commen-
tator and was offered a very generous salary,
much more than he was getting from NPR from
all accounts. The hiring of Williams by Fox was
a big story, and a big feather in Fox News' cap.

Journalism may not be dead after all.

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