Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why I’m Not Crying Over Juan Williams Getting Canned

On October 20, 2010 Juan Williams was fired from his commentator job at National Public Radio after making remarks that said he got nervous when he got nervous when he was on a plane with Muslims on the Fox News program The O’Reilly Factor. Almost immediately conservatives claimed that Williams was a victim of “political correctness” and that his free speech rights were violated. Sarah Palin even asked that Congress defund NPR in the aftermath. Others noted that Williams had gotten complaints regarding doing double duty at both NPR (who have had issues with some of Williams’ statements over the years) and Fox as well as pointing out that sometimes jobs have certain codes of conduct that you can get fired for violating; standards which Williams may have violated by saying what he did on O’Reilly,

Personally, I lean towards the latter on what caused this but I don’t really think that’s the reason. If Palin and Gleen Beck weren’t getting conservatives’ tighty whities in a wad over NPR with all this it wouldn’t be news. So why aren’t I worried? My theory on this is really quite simple.


I’m sure I’m not the first person to bring this up online. Hell, there’s probably already dozens of posts saying this elsewhere. So why add mine? Well here’s my perspective.

First, the mainstream media seemed to fail to report that Williams was working at both Fox News and NPR. It has been spun as if the man lost his only job over what was a perceived freedom of speech issue. However, he was also a commentator for Fox News, which has been practically making Islamophobia a program in and of itself.

Also, note how quickly the media noticed his new contract with Fox News. Less than 24 hours after NPR let him go it was reported that Williams signed a three year $2 million dollar contact with the network. Newscorp CEO (Fox’s parent company) Rupert Murdock immediately painted Williams as someone who has been attacked for using his First Amendment Rights, thus sending off the campaign to defund NPR in almost lapdog attack fashion.

Then there’s the people shouting the most to defund NPR. What TV news network does both Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck work for? Yup, Fox News. While in any other situation this might kinda sorta be seen as a conflict of interest, the mainstream media now paints it out of said context and people think its a legitimate concern.

With that in mind, can I be a bit out of line to think that maybe either someone at FOX if not Williams himself posited this plan to get him away from NPR before his contract was up? In addition, if Williams was already working for Fox News, why do they point out his contract now? Was it up for renewal? Did his bosses at his new main home ask him to make a choice? The answer right now is uncertain.

What is clear is that Williams lost a job for saying something redonkulous and then got a multimillion dollar boost at his other job. Most people wish they could screw up like that.

As I post this it’s been a week since all this happened. If it wasn’t for all the neocons experiencing tainthurt and wanting to defund NRP over it, this would’ve faded in the news cycle after about 48 hours. Even if you discount the other things I mentioned as coincidence, that alone makes you wonder about it.

Was Juan Williams getting canned from NPR actually planned by Williams? I don’t know. However, much weirder things have happened in the American workplace (remember John Ashcroft losing the 2000 Senate election to the late Roger Carnahan only to end up Dubya’s first attorney general).

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