Friday, October 22, 2010

Charged Atmosphere Hurls Sparks At Aging Journalist

National Public Radio fired Juan Williams for making this remark on a right-wing television program, Fox News Network's Bill O'Reilly Show.

"Look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

In the polarized world of national politics this week, that provoked a thunder storm of conservative backlash.

The gist of it is this.

The right no longer wishes to fund NPR. They greatly reduced federal spending on the Lyndon Johnson-era network in the 80's.

House Speaker front-runner John Boehner, (R-Oh), the minority leader who will likely be elevated to the rostrum if the Republicans capture the majority of seats on Nov. 2by winning more than 40 races to oust the Democratic Party members occupying those seats, joined the chorus demanding Congress “de-fund” the educational network.

“We need to face facts – our government is broke," Boehner told the conservative National Review. "Washington is borrowing 37 cents of every dollar it spends from our kids and grandkids. Given that, I think it’s reasonable to ask why Congress is spending taxpayers’ money to support a left-wing radio network – and in the wake of Juan Williams’ firing, it’s clearer than ever that’s what NPR is.”

Let's do face some facts.

Juan Williams is an aging man who gets nervous when he is taken hostage by the exigencies of boarding an aluminum cigar with wings and jet engines and hurtling through the air at hundreds of miles per hour. Until that puppy is back on the ground and he is traveling out the airport gate, he's under the nearly total control of forces over which he has almost no influence whatsoever.

In fact, he can't even carry a pair of nail clippers in his pocket. A man has to be in a pretty big hurry to put up with all that.

Anyone who doesn't get nervous is oblivious to reality or under the influence of strong drugs – or both.

Why did NPR fire him?

He no longer suits their editorial policies.

What else is new? I've seen newsmen fired for the cut of their suit – on Christmas Eve, no less.

Say that people in Muslim garb make you nervous when you're about to be locked into a potential death trap with them many miles above the surface of the globe and you're toast in the world of corporate politics – whether those politics are politically correct, or not.

Understood. When you're hot, you're hot.

Let's take a look at just how much of that borrowed 37 cents on every federal dollar spent winds up in the coffers of NPR.

Bear in mind that in a 2005 Harris Poll, NPR was voted the most trusted voice in broadcast journalism.

In a current Wikipedia article, the organization's funding scheme is outlined in this way.

“According to the 2005 financial statement, NPR makes just over half of its money from the fees and dues it charges member stations to receive programming. Public funding accounts for 16% of the average member station's revenue, with 10% of this coming in the form of grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a federally funded organization. Some more of that money originates from local and state governments and government-funded universities subsidizing member stations' fees and dues to NPR. Member stations that serve rural and "minority" communities receive significantly more funding from the CPB; in some cases up to 70%. About 2% of NPR's non-membership created funding comes from bidding on government grants and programs, chiefly the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Other funding comes from member station dues, foundation grants, and corporate underwriting. Typically, NPR member stations raise funds through on-air pledge drives, corporate underwriting, and grants from state governments, universities, and the CPB itself.”
How do corporations help fund the radio network? They buy “corporate spots,” as opposed to commercial advertisements, in which they make statements regarding their organizations' products or services and the way they affect our world.

Oh, well, all right, then.

Did Mr. Williams say he writes books about civil rights?

Just asking. I think it's a fair question, left, right, middle, up, down or sideways.

You dance with them that brung you.

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