Juan Williams: NPR Worse than Nixon

There are plenty of opinions flying around about NPR‘s decision to fireJuan Williams. The Washington Post editorialized against NPR‘s decision, arguing in part that Williams “undoubtedly spoke for many Americans who are wrestling with similar feelings” about seeing Muslims in airports. (Williams was worried primarily about those in “Muslim garb.”) Former Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, now at the Daily Beast website, called it a “blunder of enormous proportions.”

What I found most puzzling, though, was this passage from Williams’ commentary that appeared on FoxNews.com:

Daniel Schorr, my fellow NPR commentator who died earlier this year, used to talk about the initial shock of finding himself on President Nixonâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s enemies list. I can only imagine Danâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s revulsion to realize that today NPR treats a journalist who has worked for them for 10 years with less regard, less respect for the value of independence of thought and embrace of real debate across political lines, than Nixon ever displayed.

I don’tknowwhat Schorr might have said to Williams, but I suspect he may have pointed out thatin the most infamous case, Nixon had CIA agents trailing Jack Anderson, a reporter he despised, and they wereplottingways they might kill him. (Mark Feldstein’s recent book explaining the history was excerpted on NPR‘s website.) That seems worse to me. A lot worse.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.