Bleech! I never thought I’d be saying this – I agree with Newt Gingrich. Calling NPR’s firing of Juan Williams “total censorship”, Newt suggested that Congress ought to consider cutting off NPR’s money.
Juan Williams had been a popular news analyst for public radio. Popular, that is, until NPR decided otherwise and canned his butt. Vivian Schiller, NPR’s head mucky-muck, not only tossed Juan Williams overboard, she let it be known that as far as she was concerned Mr. Williams never belonged in the same NPR lifeboat as her. He was never really one of them. “Juan is not an employee of NPR,” she said. “He’s an independent contractor. He’s not NPR staff. He’s an NPR analyst.”
Make that was. He was an analyst up until that moment when he confessed to Fox New’s Bill O’Reilly that he feels a little bit anxious about getting on planes and seeing people dressed in traditional Muslim garb. Mr. Williams was not promoting such biases he was only admitting that he has them.
I have a confession of my own to make: I get nervous around rednecks at the 7-Eleven. That’s why I avoid 7-Elevens although I really like Slurpees. I’ve practically given up those cold ones as a matter of personal safety. You never can tell when a redneck is going to turn a rabid possum loose or whip out their dallywanger and take a leak in the parking lot in front of God and everybody. My buddy Jeff Foxworthy will likely be disappointed in me for admitting to my biases but Jeff’s not the kind of fellow who would outright disown me in public the way Ms. Schiller did Mr. Williams.
Personally, I think Ms. Schiller is about as low-class as they come and I grew up in a trailer park, which makes me a certified expert on low-class culture. How else can she explain her no-count remark that Mr. Williams ought to take up his anxieties with “his psychiatrist or his publicist – take your pick.”
But cranky Old Newt isn’t the only dandy rallying around Mr. Williams. Sen. DeMint (R) of South Carolina has announced that he will introduce a bill to end federal funding for NPR. Okay, I agree, that might be a tad extreme but what do you expect from a man who thinks teachers who are gay or sexually promiscuous ought to be dismissed?
DeMint and Old Newt are extremists of a conservative sort. Agreeing with the two of them about anything makes me want to slap myself hard. But as a long-time listener and supporter of public radio, I find this dismissal to be in appallingly bad taste. I cannot for one more minute allow NPR to preach Freedom of Speech to me when they are practicing the contrary when it comes to their own employees – independent contractor or otherwise.
That doesn’t mean I’ll be tuning into Bill O’Reilly for more of his pin-headed yammering anytime soon and I don’t care if Fox News turned around and hired Mr. Williams for $2 million. As far as I’m concerned Fox News and NPR have become two-sides of the same redneck family.
They are practically kissing cousins.