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We’re talking with Fox News analyst and former NPR political analyst Juan Williams about American politics, the news, and free speech now.
For ten years, journalist and commentator Juan William was all over NPR. Then, almost a year ago now, it all hit the fan, and Juan Williams was gone. Fired. The break-up was ugly. And Williams was pulled onboard by his other big media employer, Fox News.
Now, Juan Williams is out talking – from a viewpoint that’s almost unique - about free speech, political correctness, American politics and the news. He is with us today.
This hour On Point: Juan Williams on Fox News, free speech, the GOP, Obama, and life since NPR.
Juan Williams, political analyst for Fox News and columnist for FoxNews.com and The Hill. He's also former senior correspondent and political analyst for NPR and former host for the NPR show “Talk of the Nation.” He's author of “Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate.”
From Tom's Reading List
Fox News "I did not plan to have my book come out at a time when the country is desperately lacking an honest debate about our economic destiny. Friday’s numbers on job creation reinforce the fact that the nation needs to focus on job creation. But politicians in Washington are busy fighting over the timing for a Presidential address on jobs. They are far from honest debate that leads to solutions and ideas that produce jobs. Everyday’s headlines bring fresh new examples of the kind of poison that I argue is eroding our ability to solve big problems like the economy."
Los Angeles Times "It's been eight months since Juan Williams touched off one of those overwrought media tempests. The jolt to the news ecosystem came when Williams told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly that he felt a certain unease when he saw people in "Muslim garb" on airplanes. Muslim activists cried foul, a modest brawl ensued. It escalated into a full-on slam-dance when NPR, which employed Williams as a news analyst, fired him. Even a lot of the radio network's insiders acknowledge today that management acted peremptorily, canning Williams without a hearing."
C H A P T E R 1
I SAID WHAT I MEANT
I AM A BIGOT. I hate Muslims. I am a fomenter of hate and intolerance.
I am a black guy who makes fun of Muslims for the entertainment of
white racists. I am brazen enough to do it on TV before the largest
cable news audience in America. And I am such a fraud that while I was
spreading hate to a conservative audience at night I delivered a
totally different message to a large liberal morning-radio audience. I
fooled the radio folks into thinking of me as a veteran Washington
correspondent and the author of several acclaimed books celebrating
America’s battles against racism.
My animus toward Muslims may be connected to my desire for publicity
and the fact that I am mentally unstable. And I am also a
fundamentally bad person. I repeatedly ignored warnings to stop
violating my company’s standards for news analysis. And I did this after
repeated warnings from my patient employer.
Therefore, my former employers made the right decision when
they fired me. In fact, they should be praised for doing it, and
rewarded with taxpayer money. Their only sin was that they didn’t fire me sooner.
This is just a sampling of some of the reaction to National Public
Radio’s decision to fire me last year after a ten-year career as a
national talk show host, senior correspondent, and senior news
analyst. They were not taken from the anonymous comments
section of a YouTube page or the reams of hate mail that
flooded my in-box in the days before the firing. No, this is the
response from the NPR management whom I had served
with great success for nearly a decade.
It is also the reaction from national advocacy
groups like the Council for American Islamic
Relations (CAIR), whose work I had generally admired and occasionally
defended over the years. Joining them was a small, knee -jerk mob of
liberal commentators, including a New York Times editorial writer,
who defended NPR as an important news source deserving federal
funding even if it meant defaming me—“he made foolish and
hurtful remarks about Muslims.” Cable TV star Rachel
Maddow, a fervent champion of free speech, agreed that I had a right
to say what was on my mind, but in her opinion the comments amounted
to bigotry. I had a right to speak but no right to “keep [my] job.”
NPR also found support among leftist intellectuals who regularly brag
about defending the rights of the little guy but had no problem siding
with a big institution over an individual journalist when the
journalist was me. One writer said I had long ingratiated myself with
conservatives and I had gotten what was coming to me. His conclusion
about me: “Sleep with dogs, get fleas.”
What did I do that warranted the firing and the ad hominem attacks
that preceded and followed?
I simply told the truth.
Looking back on the torrential media coverage surrounding my
dismissal, I am struck by how little of it tells the full story of
what actually happened. Basic facts were distorted, important context
was not provided, and personal attacks were treated as truth. The lack
of honest reporting about the firing and the events that led up to it
was not just unfair—most of it was flat-out lies.
In this first chapter, I will tell you the full story of what happened
to me. My purpose in doing this is not to get people to fee l sorry
for me. The goal of this book is to set the record straight and to use
my experience in what amounts to a political and media whacking as
the starting point for a much needed discussion
about the current, sad state of political discourse in this country.
It is time to end the ongoing assault against honest debate in America.
Reprinted from MUZZLED: The Assault on Honest Debate by Juan Williams.
Copyright © 2011. Published by Crown Publishers, a division of Random
This program aired on September 12, 2011.
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