Farai Chideya, formerly of NPR, now of Pop and Politics, has this, which I cross-posted at JJP if it looks familiar at all:
Posted: October 23, 2010 01:44 PM
What Everyone Is Missing About NPR's WilliamsGate
"juan, gettin ugly. wonder if it will result in him severing ties, or mutual"
That was my note at the top of an email I sent back in September of 2007 to a colleague at NPR. In full disclosure, I am a former employee of NPR, let go in 2008 as part of the cancellation of three shows, including one I hosted. In the email, I'd forwarded a Washington Post column by Howard Kurtz dissecting a Fox/NPR/Juan Williams triad of recrimination. The headline: "NPR Rebuffs White House On Bush Talk -- Radio Network Wanted To Choose Its Interviewer." In Kurtz's words:
The White House reached out to National Public Radio over the weekend, offering analyst Juan Williams a presidential interview to mark yesterday's 50th anniversary of school desegregation in Little Rock. But NPR turned down the interview, and Williams's talk with Bush wound up in a very different media venue: Fox News. Williams said yesterday he was "stunned" by NPR's decision... Ellen Weiss, NPR's vice president for news, said she "felt strongly" that "the White House shouldn't be selecting the person."
This incident is more telling than the oft-dissected statement Williams made on Fox that Michelle Obama had "this Stokely Carmichael-in-a-designer-dress thing going." Juan Williams and NPR have been a mutual mismatch for years. In this volley, Williams -- with his reported new $2 million over 3 year contract with Fox -- is the clear winner; with Fox a close second; and NPR left holding the bag. It need not have been this way.
If NPR had such clear concerns over how Juan Williams fit into their organization, in the amorphous role of "news analyst," then they had an opportunity to let him go a long time ago. They could have decided he didn't fit their needs, and moved on in a less polarized time. But by firing him now, in this instance, after years of sitting uncomfortably with his dual roles on NPR and Fox, they made a few crucial errors. They chose to fire him for doing what he has done for years... be a hype man for Bill O'Reilly. Why now?...
In addition to the rest of her write-up, at the above Chideya linked out to Michel Martin's Tell Me More segment on Williams. Here is the intro:
MICHEL MARTIN, host:
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.
Today, we are going to talk about another controversy involving the media, ethnicity and ethics. Just recently on this program, we have talked about the firing of CNN anchor Rick Sanchez and former White House correspondent Helen Thomas over comments that each made in public forums that many people considered ignorant and even anti-Semitic. And the question was what kind of dialogue crosses the line between legitimate commentary and bigotry, especially inappropriate for journalists to engage in.
Today's story is along those lines, but it hits even closer to home. It's about the decision by this network, NPR, to fire its longtime employee Juan Williams. Juan has been a host here, a correspondent, and most recently, he has had the title of senior news analyst. And for long stretches of time, he's been one of the few consistent African-American males on the air here. And for a number of years, he's also been a regular contributor to FOX News Channel. And therein lies the issue.
He was fired Wednesday after comments he made about Muslims in an appearance on FOX News' "The O'Reilly Factor." Those comments and NPR's response to them has generated a controversy that has engulfed both networks and the blogosphere. For example, by midmorning today, some 15,000 messages have been blogged about this on NPR's home page.
Later in the program, we'll ask the Barbershop guys to weigh in because they are also a group of journalists of color who are often called upon to speak off the cuff about controversial topics. So we will hear what they have to say.
But first, we've called Asra Nomani, the author of "Standing Alone: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam," and a scholar in the practice of journalism at Georgetown School of Continuing Studies. Also with us, Richard Prince, he's an editor at The Washington Post, who writes an online publication called "Journal-isms," where he focuses on issues around diversity in the media. And John Watson, associate professor of communications law and journalism ethics at American University. And they're all here with me in the studio and I thank you all so much for joining us...
Lagniappe: h/t to a JJP commenter for this, since Williams is easily frightened:
This Wordle seems to suggest I reconsider which words I use a lot: