Last Thursday National Public Radio fired senior political commentator Juan Williams. Williams stated on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" his personal anxiety at seeing passengers in Arab dress on airplanes. Williams was simultaneously an employee of NPR and Fox News.
NPR claimed the remark was the culmination of statements that violated the organization’s rule barring personal statements in fact-based reporting and commentary. Fox News screamed censorship and elitism on NPR's part, adding that the publicly funded news group looked down on Williams' association with Fox. A chorus of conservatives in Congress called for the end of government spending on NPR and Public Television.
Judging by the way Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin pounced on the Williams firing, you'd think the Media Conservatives were waiting all their lives for this moment. And you would be right. Since the late 1980s when Ronald Reagan declared jihad on the National Endowment for the Arts, the Right has snipped with minimal success at NPR and related organizations that accept federal money. Now the Conservatives have a direct hit on National Public Radio, which is odd since the damage was self-inflicted.
NPR and Fox News one aspect in common besides employing Juan Williams: repetition.
Listening to the cyclical barrage of Obama criticism from Fox is to witness nit picking raised to an art equaled only by the old Soviet Union's propaganda tirades about the fascist, capitalist West. I anticipate the afternoon Fox News spends an entire news cycle informing us President Obama's socks don't match.
NPR's morning and evening news programs are repetitive in a different way. “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered” contain only an hour of actual news programming, which it plays again the next hour with a business report sandwiched in between. The formatting of NPR's news reports are pretty routine, with happy sounding music following an upbeat story and mournful music after a downbeat item.
Many liberal critics have accused NPR of doing covertly what Fox News brags about: protecting the status quo. Political activist Noam Chomsky has accused NPR of pragmatic political shifts in news coverage to stay on the good side of whatever administration is in power. All this has helped make NPR as predictable as Fox News, minus its rival's sheer entertainment value.
Will the miniscule Federal funding NPR and Public Television receive be rescinded? Unlikely. Republican Jim DeMint, the Elmer Gantry of the U.S. Senate, put forward legislation to defund NPR, legislation that will go nowhere. Too many Congressmen have too many constituents who like the jazz and classical music NPR provides. And once the midterm elections are over in less than two weeks, the issue will evaporate.
Williams is ensconced on Fox News, upping the number of black on-air personalities the network employs to three. You can see a look of satisfaction on William's face when he joins his co-workers in calling for removal of government money from NPR's budget.
Fox News and NPR will continue to drone on to their target audiences who want their beliefs and prejudices confirmed and not challenged by the news they hear