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Here you can see the offending clip in which Williams admitted that he feels nervous when he sees people in Muslim garb on an airplane. I hadn't seen it until just now. Williams has a long history of working for human rights, and he is black. After he made this admission, NPR fired him, and he promptly got hired by FOX to the tune of a $2 million contract.

What happened here is in a way a repeat of something I observed in church a few Sundays ago. The pastor said that homophobia is a sin. Fear is a sin? Now NPR is saying the same thing. Nervousness around strangers in clothing representing so much = sin. This is ridiculous. This is a trap that liberals have fallen into. This is the disaster of PCism taken so far that people cannot even express their unbidden and unacted emotions. It's not even an opinion, it's an EMOTION. The opinion, being something concocted of reason in a quality man such as Williams, will not be bigoted. But emotions? I suspect that any reasonable person in Arab dress would understand that Williams is not a hater, he is simply human. We would all get along better if we allow each other to be human.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 24th, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC)
For me the real piece of the controversy is that Williams is a reporter not a commentator. O'Reilly and other Fox shows have blurred the line on news, entertainment and commentary. As a news reporter, Williams is held to a different standard than O'Reilly. It's troubling to me that the journalistic code of conduct is completely absent from the controversy. In my mind, it's staged drama to divert us from the idea that there is little journalism available to us. He gets fired from NPR and hired by Fox - why should I care?
Oct. 25th, 2010 01:32 am (UTC)
When he made the offending remark he was on fox being a commentator. Is it part of the reporter's code of ethics that he may not express his feelings publicly? The drama isn't staged, it is NPR attempting to uphold a standard of PCness that is biting it in the ass. As for why you should care, you should care that across the board our media is nigh worthless and people can barely hold a civil conversation anymore. We need to be able to talk to each other even when we disagree. That Williams was on O'Reilley's show doesn't mean that he buys into O'R's ideas, but rather that he is willing to talk to him and see if they can find common ground, build trust, begin a real conversation. I have a lot of respect for this approach.
Oct. 25th, 2010 01:43 am (UTC)
It is actually part of the journalist code to not give commentary. In my journalism class in college, I really struggled with this. It seems false. The second you begin to edit something you give it a point of view. Journalists are to work to be as neutral as possible. They need to be seen as credible - and reporters of facts. It's why there's such a distinction between - the editorial page and the news page. But tv has really blurred this distinction. If he wants to work as a commentator - then really, he should retire or switch professions. It seems as if NPR has forced his hand. I'm most curious what Democracy Now will do. If they will keep him on.
Oct. 25th, 2010 02:03 am (UTC)
I'm an idiot - confused Juan Gonzalez with Juan Williams...
the other stuff is right on
Oct. 25th, 2010 02:45 am (UTC)
Oh! So a journalist cannot comment anytime that they might be publicly heard? A journalist may not have opinions? This would be tough. I mean, I can see refraining from pundritry while you're doing your journalist job, but it seems that you should be allowed freedom of speech like everybody when you're not at work. Hmmmmmmm.

You're not an idiot! Just hasty. Join the club.
Oct. 26th, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC)
I wanted to follow up on why I thought this was staged drama.
First, Williams has been through this before with NPR.
NPR changed his position from staff correspondent to news analyst as a consultant because of opinions he made public.
In this way, Williams knew he was moving away from NPR’s journalist standards and had received a warning of sorts.
The following exchange between Vivian Schiller and Williams was personal and struck me as particularly unprofessional.
You can read more hear: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2611931/posts

If other news sources wanted to give the back and forth a positive framework, I believe there would be more discussion on what exactly journalist standards are and why we should hold journalists to this standard. It’s actually a great teachable moment about media and its role. Instead the argument focused on the personal. That’s what turns me off from it and makes me feel it might have been staged (and I use that word very loosely). Maybe I'm too suspicious but what great drama to immediately receive a position from Fox.
Oct. 26th, 2010 07:19 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I too suspect Fox of fancy footwork anytime something like this happens, so I get it. I am prepared to be educated about journalist standards----what else is inherent to the value system of those who report? I mean, I get it that the goal is to keep your personal opinions and culture out of the picture, to present just the facts in the most unbiased way possible such as to allow the reader to make their own discriminations. And I see that this is a challenging task. What else?

And why is it important for a reporter not to express emotions when they are on stage but not in the process of reporting? I'm having trouble grasping this.
Oct. 26th, 2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
My starting point is actually that I think your challenge is generally shared with others. That’s the conversation that I would like to see explored. The news coverage that I’ve seen seems more about a drama with two sides and viewers can root for one side or the other. I see it as a horse race – with multiple participants including O’Reilly’s appearance on the View.
For me a more productive conversation would be to ask the questions we’re struggling with – is objectivity possible? I believe it’s not – so for me the following question is when and how is it appropriate to be subjective? Should reporters be allowed to be commentators? To me it’s strange given the code – Williams does regularly appear in situations that demand that he comment on events. Why did NPR give him permission to appear on talk news shows? What was he supposed to say? Does commenting on news stories jeopardize a reporter’s ability to be perceived as fair and objective reporters? I think your challenge is shared.
Although I will confess – I’m confused when you say: And why is it important for a reporter not to express emotions when they are on stage but not in the process of reporting. As I understand it, reporters are not supposed to be overtly emotional or subjective when reporting the news.
On a local level – there’s a highly regarded reporter whose beat is education. In my opinion he has made too many positive comments about a particular school. In my eyes, there are potential concerns about this school. His over the top glowing positive comments color my view of all his reporting. I can’t help it. He’s lost creditability with me. In comparison, I can see how I William’s comments caused him to lose creditability as a reporter but that doesn’t seem to be the thrust of the story as reported in the news. Maybe I’m being stubborn here.
Oct. 27th, 2010 12:03 am (UTC)
My point is that when Williams was expressing his emotion, he was not reporting the news. He was at his other job, where being a "reporter" was not the job title. He was moonlighting, if you will, like the congresswoman who sings in bars. Of course a reporter is supposed to refrain from subjectivity as much as it possible when they are reporting. But what about when they are NOT reporting? They aren't reporting 24 hours a day. Aren't they allowed to have emotion and be subjective when they are not reporting? Or is the job title of reporter a forfeiture of first amendment rights, else one be canned?

As for your idea that it is impossible for humans to be totally objective, I agree. I also see however that some are better and some are worse at being objective, and at keeping bias out of the presentation. And it seems that people who are better at presenting uncolored facts might be the ones we'd like to report to us.

As for the reporter who glows about a particular school and doesn't address the concerns that you see, if he is a true reporter, he would gladly take your issues and address them with neutrality if he were a good reporter. If he did that, perhaps he could regain your trust. If he really is biased, he won't do it. It's a simple test, and I'd be interested to hear the response if you put the issues to him. Until you give him that opportunity, I don't see how you can completely write him off. He may have very good reasons for his lofty opinion of that school.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )



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