Thursday, October 21, 2010

Juan Williams firing Riles GOP to ask for Investigation, defunding Public Radio. Defending free Speech?

This is ridiculous.

In broadcasting, getting fired is never pretty or fair. Juan Williams is whining now, but he should ask his conservative friends if they want public radio disseminating controversial political opinion. How can they complain about public radio's attempts to present a balanced view? They can't have it both ways. And what about the free market? Just because it has public support, doesn't mean that it's not competing with the private sector. Another phony issue.

And yet polls indicate Americans are willing to give congress back to a bunch of reactionary, wedge issue, petty authoritarian Republican politicians. Only Fox News would solicit the following reactions from their pundits:

News analyst Juan Williams' firing from National Public Radio for comments he made about being nervous when flying alongside devout Muslims has sparked a public outcry that includes calls for investigations and a cut in public funding to the broadcaster.

"I think the U.S. Congress should investigate NPR and consider cutting off their money," said Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is also a Fox News contributor. Gingrich called the firing "an act of total censorship." "This isn't the first time we have had serious concerns about some of Juan's public comments," she wrote.

Republican Rep. Peter King went further, calling on Congress to nix any federal money NPR gets "because of its indefensible bias."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, called on Congress to stop cutting checks to NPR and said he will no longer accept interview requests from NPR ... "NPR has discredited itself as a forum for free speech and a protection of the First Amendment rights.

NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller sent an internal memo claiming that the remarks he made on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" weren't the only problem -- he was canned because he's become a pundit rather than an analyst.

Cooler heads defended Williams from the left:

"I don't think he should have been fired, because, in fact ... lots of people have this idea," said host Whoopi Goldberg. Host Barbara Walters said Williams perhaps should have been chastised, not fired because he was on the show to give his perspective. "I think they were very wrong," she said of NPR.

Free Press, a nonprofit advocating media reform, denounced the calls to defund NPR. "It is time to stop playing politics with our nation's public media system," Free Press President Josh Silve said in a written statement. "Calling for Congress to defund NPR is nothing more than political opportunism by public figures who have built a career on such shenanigans," he said. "Regardless of what you think about Juan Williams' dismissal, calling for the defunding of NPR is like asking for the death penalty in small claims court."

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