Critics say it’s “censorship”
Natrional Public Radio (NPR) fired senior analyst Wednesdayfor comments he had made earlier in the week about Muslims and terrorists on “The O’Reilly Factor” on the Fox News Channel the story was in most media outlets and comments criticizing the publicly funded NPR soon followed.
In a brief statement announcing Williams’ dismissal, NPR said that the remarks their veteran correspondent and analysts saying that he gets “worried” and “nervous” when he sees people dressed in Muslim-style clothing on airplanes – “were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices and undermined his credibility as a news analysts with NPR.”
Williams, the sole left-leaning panelist on “Fox News Sunday” discussions each week, drew support Thursday from some unlikely sources.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, said Thursday firing Williams was “an act of total censorship…every listener of NPR should be outraged. What he said was very balanced. People should read what he had to say.” Gingrich also called on Congress to look into the funding it provides NPR.
Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and GOP presidential candidate, also harshly criticized NPR.
“While I have often enjoyed appearing on NPR programs and have been treated fairly and objectively, I will no longer accept interview requests from NPR as long as they are going to practice a form of censorship, and since NPR is funded with public funds, it IS a form of censorship,” Huckabee , also a Fox News contibutor said in a statement released by HuckPac. “It is time for the taxpayers to start making cuts to federal spending, and I encourage the new Congress to start with NPR.
And in a Twitter posting, Sarah Palin (a Fox contributor) said Williams got a taste of the left’s hypocrisy.
Criticism of NPR was not limited to conservative politicians. Barbara Walters, moderator and anchor of ABC’s program “The View” where the Muslim controversy first started said in her show Thursday that NPR should not have fired Williams.
In its story, The Washington Post said “Williams, 56, made the remarks Monday after the show’s host, Bill O’Reilly, asked him whether he thought the United States was facing a ‘Muslim dilemma.’ O’Reilly said that ‘jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet.’ Williams, who is African American and writes and speaks frequently on race, told O’Reilly that he agreed with his assessment.
“I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country,” he said. “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’re identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”
Williams also brought up a statement made in a New York courtroom this month by Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani American who pleaded guilty to trying to detonate a bomb in Times Square and was sentenced to life in prison.
“He said the war with Muslims, America’s war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts,” said Williams.
That was not all that Williams said on the program, however. “At the same time, Williams -who is also an analyst and commentator for Fox News on various programs -cautioned O’Reilly about making inflammatory statements, or defining all Muslims as posing a terror threat.
“We don’t want, in America, people to have their rights violated, to be attacked on the street because they hear rhetoric from Bill O’Reilly and they act crazy,” Williams said.
Williams said he agreed with critics who blasted O’Reilly for saying recently on the television show “The View” that “Muslims killed us on 9/11.”
Extremists, not traditional Muslims, were responsible for those attacks, Williams said.
On Wednesday, as excerpts of Williams’ remarks to O’Reilly circulated on the Internet, Muslim advocacy groups and liberal commentators called for his ouster. None took all of the comments made by Williams and put them in context. They called for NPR to take action against Williams.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American Islamic relations, compared the ouster to radio shock jock Don Imus being fired for his “nappy-headed hos” comment, or people calling for Helen Thomas to lose her job after making anti-Israel remarks (Thomas, then 89 years old, abruptly retired).
“If you pay a professional price for those kinds of comments about other groups, it’s only reasonable that you should do so when speaking about Muslims or Islam,” Hooper said. He added, “How would [Williams] react if someone said the same thing about African Americans or another minority?”
In its story The Washington Post said that “NPR is funded primarily by annual dues paid by its member stations, and by corporate sponsors and foundation grants. About 2 percent of its budget comes directly from federal tax money via funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the private organization set up by Congress to distribute federal funds to public radio and TV broadcasters. Its member stations receive public funding as well.”
The Americano / Agencies