Respected National Public Radio analyst Juan Williams lost his job this week for offending liberal orthodoxy. On the bright side, no one can ever again defend NPR as being fair and balanced. This experiment in taxpayer-supported broadcasting must be put out to pasture.
“I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country,” Mr. Williams told Bill O’Reilly on Monday. “But when I get on a 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.” On Wednesday, NPR terminated its contract with Mr. Williams, saying his remarks “were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.”
A post on the NPR website said Mr. O’Reilly “has been looking for support for his own remarks on a recent episode of ABC’s ‘The View’ in which he directly blamed Muslims for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.” News flash to NPR: Muslims are to blame for the Sept. 11 attacks. The terrorists who killed 3,000 people were Islamic extremists, not “extremists who happened to be Muslim.” Their violent actions were motivated by and intended to further their hateful religious views. Denying the Islamic motivation of the attacks - a view actively promoted by the Obama administration and its surrogates - is willful and dangerous blindness to reality.
Mr. Williams has a reputation as a thoughtful liberal whose views go beyond the usual Democratic Party-approved talking points, and he’s earned deserved respect beyond those who were predisposed to agree with him. But it was no secret that NPR management was uncomfortable with Mr. Williams’ appearances on Fox News. In 2009, the taxpayer-subsidized operation demanded that Mr. Williams stop being identified as a “senior correspondent for NPR” when appearing on “The O’Reilly Factor.” This incident was a useful pretext for management to engage in some ideological cleansing. The firing looks even more suspicious coming as it does hard on the heels of a $1.8 million grant from ultraliberal sock puppeteer George Soros.
News organizations have a right to adopt whatever editorial positions they want, but NPR receives a chunk of its budget from the federal government, and more importantly wields the imprimatur of being an essential public resource, which anchors its other fundraising efforts. NPR’s persistent liberal bias raises the question of why the government is in the business of promoting such enterprises. The rationale that created public broadcasting more than 40 years ago - the then lack of available educational and public service programming - has been overcome by technological innovations unforeseen at the time. Blue-state America has MSNBC for news; it doesn’t need NPR. When the new Congress begins the process of cutting wasteful government programs, public broadcasting should be high on the list.