Friday, October 22, 2010

Juan Williams

An e-mail I sent to Andrew Sullivan's blog that pretty much sums up my feeling on the Juan Williams affair:

In discussions of the Juan Williams/NPR dust-up I think one of the big issues is being missed here. Williams' omnipresence on Fox was a concern for his employer for reasons that go well beyond Williams' expressed opinions in one show. Fox News is a propaganda outlet moreso than a proper news organization and one of its primary missions is to discredit objective reporting in order to tilt the country's political discussion to the right. It does this by propagating the myth that mainstream media organizations like CNN and NPR tilt to the left, whereas Fox is neutral in its coverage of the news. And one of the many ways that Fox spreads this distortion is by holding roundtable discussions featuring right-wing partisan political hacks on one side of the table (Wm. Kristal, Charles Krauthammer) and mainstream media journalists on the other. Rarely will you find the editor of the Weekly Standard debating the editor of the Nation on Fox. You are much more likely to see Kristol facing off against Wiliams or Cookie Roberts of NPR. And this very format produces two fundamentally dishonest, desired results for Fox: (1) the disingenuous right-wing propaganda of Kristol et al. is countered by milquetoast commentary from mainstream journalists who don't want to come off as partisans defending left-wing positions (2) the mainstream journalists and their primary employers nonetheless do come off as "liberally biased" because the physical and ideological context demands it: they have been set up to counter the assertions of right-wing partisans.

Mainstream media organizations like NPR fiercely protect their reputation for balance and objectivity. A couple of weeks ago NPR sent out a missive to all of its employees warning them against attending John Stewart and Stephen Colbert's upcoing rally on the mall. This contrasts noticeably with Fox News reporters who can be seen egging on crowds at Tea party rallies (the videos are all over YouTube).

So it's hardly surprising to me that NPR would take this opportunity to divorce itself of Williams. His presence on Fox does not project the image that the news organization wants to present to the public.

2 comments:

skorpeo said...

i happened to walk past the television at work, which was tuned to fox news, and watched megyn kelly grill someone (didn't catch the name) on whether or not NPR offers straight, fact-based news, as opposed to "biased opinions". the irony was overwhelming....

Patriot's Quill said...

The Fox propaganda mahcine never lets down its guard.