James Fallows has a long post on the Juan Williams affair in which he outlines objections to Williams' association with NPR while working for Fox that are simliar to the ones I voiced earlier on this blog:
I care about NPR not because of my minor role as a contributor but because of their major role in the American journalistic landscape. To hear the Fox/DeMint attack machine over the past week, NPR is simply a liberal counterpart to Fox -- a politically minded and opinion-driven organization that is only secondarily interested in gathering news. I believe that the mischaracterization is deliberate, and I know it is destructive and wrong.Fox is unmatched at what it does, which is to apply a unified political-cultural world view to the unfolding events of the day. To appreciate its impact, you just have to think about how much more effective it is than the various liberal counterparts -- the now-departed Air America, the Olbermann-Maddow bloc on MSNBC. Rush Limbaugh isn't on Fox, but he showed them how it's done. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are technically as effective as Fox, but they are nowhere near as reliably pro-Democratic as Fox is pro-Republican. And they're only on for one hour total a day, weekdays only, rather than 24/7 for Fox."News" in the normal sense is a means for Fox's personalities, not an end in itself. It provides occasions for the ongoing development of its political narrative -- the war on American values, the out-of-touchness of Democrats -- much as current events give preachers material for sermons.
Fallows also adds some interesting historical tidbits, such as the fact that the Bush Whitehouse was fond of Williams as an interviewer because of his softball questioning of the president:
The only interview George W Bush gave to NPR while in office was with Juan Williams in 2007. It is general political-world knowledge that the White House's condition of the interview was that Williams conduct it... later in 2007 the White House offered NPR another interview with Bush, but only if Juan Williams would again do it. NPR said No, we won't take it on those terms; we want to choose the interviewer. Williams did it instead for Fox. Story here.
It's interesting to add that the narrative coming out of Fox is that Juan Williams was fired from NPR for being a "Bill Cosby Liberal," by which Fox means a Liberal who departs from common Liberal shibboleth on cultural issues. Of course another way of putting it is that Williams is a Liberal who is useful to Fox insofar as he puts up only weak and half-hearted defenses of Liberal opinions and positions and can just as often be counted on to attack the left for its supposed ideological intransigence and extremism. In other words, Williams is the only kind of Liberal allowed on Fox: the kind that furthers the station's dishonest ideological narrative. But the most important point to take away from the reaction from Roger Ailes' lackeys is that for Fox, Juan Williams was clearly the token Liberal, and he was presented as such in discussion panels. For NPR, which employed Williams as a correspodent, and not as an opinion journalist, this was simply unacceptable. One cannot imagine ABC, CBS or NBC in their heyday tolerating Dan Rather, Peter Jennings or Tom Brokaw doing ideological driven political commentary on the side? NPR is no different in this respect, because they truly value impartiality.