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24 October 2010


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Yes, analysis is opinion.

It almost seems like NPR was paid by Rupert Murdoch's organization to fire Williams two weeks before the election. Look at all the great wingnut press it has generated. Murdoch's PR people must be grinning from ear to ear.

R Whitman

Last Friday morning I was answering phones as a volunteer at my local NPR radio stations semi-annual fund drive. A number of callers were very upset that a popular commentator/analyst such as Juan Williams was fired. Several even said it smacked of CNN.

This is bound to hurt local, individual contributions, but probably not listeners. NPR is about the only serious radio news organization left in many areas.


One problem. Williams had been with Fox since 97 or so. Why now?

In my opinion, NPR was tired of Williams using his NPR association to act as the token liberal punching bag on the Fox news circus. This issue had come up for years, with Williams being warned not to announce his NPR association when on Fox (Williams' NPR contract specifically prohibited using his NPR association when appearing on any other outlet).

The whole farce says as much (or more) about Fox as it does about NPR. I was laughing as this unfolded, figuring Fox would probably go and immediately hire Williams. Predictably, they did for 2M a year! Being a comforting figure for Fox's viewers pays better than doing anything on NPR. Now Fox's viewers have someone holding their hand: namely, "Even the civil rights guy is afraid of Muslims acting all . . . Muslim!" Brilliant.


Col. Lang:

Of course: Guilt by association in a new(?) form. It reminds me of 3rd graders' paper "cootie catchers" which were used to intimidate, harass and isolate children seen by the majority social group as not worthy of membership.

Where are the grownups?

dan of steele

yes, it was nonsense. even more telling is that the same people who are up in arms about Williams were strangely silent when Octavia Nasr, Helen Thomas, Rick Sanchez, Eason Jordan, Peter Arnett, Phil Donahue, Bill Maher, and Ward Churchill lost their jobs for significantly less.

it does depend on whose ox is gored.

Roy G

FOX is more than just the ideological enemy of NPR - they are the enemy of intelligence, period. Col. Lang is correct in his final statement, and I think NPR was right, though not necessarily smart, to do as it did.

It's absolutely transparent that any left of right commentator is relegated on FOX to playing the Alan Colmes patsy role. There is no debate, no search for the truth at FOX, only ideological cudgeling. Mr. Williams knows this, and so, the conclusion is that he is either a.) not serious about his role, b.) only in it for the money.

What amazes me is how people fail to connect the dots, and simply fall in line with the narrative of the day. How many weeks ago was the 'Ground Zero' mosque controversy? What is the connection? It's politics as Pro Wresting, and Roger Ailes is Vince McMahon, writing the scripts, and manipulating the actors as he wishes.

Mr. Williams can be comfortable in his hypocrisy, especially with $2mil handed to him by FOX. (I guess we know the going rate now. I'm sure the Chamber of Commerce may now feel slighted that they only got $1mil). Mr. Williams has obviously forgotten that he used to fight against stereotyping against young African-Americans, and now he has been assimilated into the country club to such a point that he has forgotten, or simply doesn't care, what it means to be portrayed as the Other.

However, this does not excuse NPR for its clumsiness. Essentially, i'd call it a case of the trained pugilist getting nutted by a street fighter.


"News" people" now routinely express opinions with regard to the material that comes in over the internet or that flows across the teleprompter. - pl

Compare Rick Sanchez to Stephen Colbert to see '"objective" understanding of truth' is often clouded by our own biases and perceptions.

Both said the same thing, but one was mean spirited while the other was jesting.

In my opinion with regard to these facts, Williams was fired for associating with Fox News, the ideological enemy of NPR. All else in nonsense. pl

Sanchez had horrible rating compares to Colbert or just about anyone else, so he basically hanged himself with own stupidity.

IMHO, Williams did the same thing, but had a better exit option.

Adam L Silverman

Mr. Whitman: apparently it has not hurt pledging as donations seem to be up in many places. Morever, many aggrieved callers identify as being from out of state and indicate that they will no longer watch NPR (which I think means they propbably weren't listeners as it's not on TV, though they could just like to stare intently at their radios):

Adam L Silverman

Sir: I think the issue here is that William's contract with NPR (and he was a contract employee not salaried staff, to provide analysis) clearly indicates and delineates what he can and can not do when appearing in and on other news media. In 2009 he was publicly rebuked and warned that his appearances on Fox were in violation of his contract with NPR and that if he continued on Fox he would no longer be allowed to identify himself for his appeareances or have Fox identify him as a NPR analyst (if I recall correctly they told Mara Liassan the same thing). So he's been corrected at least once by his employer and publicly (no way to know if he was corrected more than this once as it was private) that he was violating his contract. I don't know whether firing pundits for committing punditry (and since we can't get rid of most of them for being serially wrong anyway...) is a good idea, and I'm not sure NPR handled this in the best manner (they should have waited a couple of weeks, told him they wearing renewing his contract, and then let everyone go forward with some dignity), but I don't think it's anywhere near the tempest that his supporters make it out to be. Especially given how over the top excited they were to go after Octavia Nasr, Helen Thomas, Rick Sanchez, Ashleigh Banfield, Peter Arnett, Bill Donohue, and others.

Finally, given that Williams punishment is a $2 million contract and not having to worry about if he's giving his NPR type analysis on Fox or his Fox type analysis on NPR on the same issue, which would be a problem as I've heard him say one thing in the AM on public radio and 180 degrees contradict himself in the evening on Fox. Hell if someone told me I could publicly say something stupid or déclassé and be rewarded with a two million dollar contract within two days, I'd jumped at it; especially as I usually say something stupid every day for free...


I listen to NPR everyday and although their news coverage has its problems, I prefer it to any of the networks, especially Fox. This firing was clearly a bone-headed move designed to excommunicate Williams who had become a heretic to the NPR management. It was reported that the firing was unpopular among NPR's rank-and-file which indicates that NPR's management is, at best, out of touch.


Your analysis is a stretch but well within the realm of believability. Now, Juan William's comment was unacceptable, though it has crossed my mind a few times.

Why news-stations feel they need to have commentators that seem to compete with Rush Limbaugh is beyond me but maybe that helps the bottom line.

I yearn for the days of listing to the BBC World Service on a Zenith radio where I got facts and the only commentary was my own. The closest thing we have today is NPR Moring Edition but then that is my opinion.

Patrick Lang


I am uninterested in the content of William' remark, or the tactics of firing him, or the content of his conract. What I am intrested in here is the idiot notion that such a thing as truly objective analysis exists and don't talk to to me about "science." Scientific analysis is only accepted as true until some other "scientist" renders a different opinion. Theoretical physics is a perfect example. pl


Col. Lang,

"Scientific analysis is only accepted as true until some other "scientist" renders a different opinion. Theoretical physics is a perfect example. pl "

Scientific analysis relies on repeatable experiments that demonstrate that the latest theory is in accordance with observed behaviour of something. While charlatans (theoreticians) do exist in science, they are eventually caught and killed by the experimenters.

By way of example, the gentleman linked to below Alexander Franklin Mayer, is doing his level best to demolish the "Big Bang", "Dark Energy" and "Dark Matter" (aka faerie dust) crowd.


Juan Williams was indeed the "Token Liberal Punching Bag" as Ronald said, and deserved ignominy for playing that role, but NPR screwed it up. Chalk one up for Murdoch.



Your comment to "All" reminds me of Nietzsche's view (which countless numbers of your readers no doubt know) that everything is "interpretation," i.e., the very idea that there are objective facts is itself an interpretation.

Douglass Schumacher

"Scientific analysis is only accepted as true until some other "scientist" renders a different opinion. Theoretical physics is a perfect example."

Being provocative? Do you really mean that? In the physical sciences opinion doesn't count for much at all. Also, and this is hard for people to believe, no opinion of any person is all that important to the community.

When non-scientists say "theoretical physics", they often mean string theory. Did you? If so, it's a good example. Some of our best minds (they tell us) working for two decades and --- it's still not accepted for lack of experimental evidence. This includes the many string theorists I've met. That's pretty objective.

Best regards,
Douglass Schumacher.

Douglass Schumacher

(I left this part off, sorry.)

The sciences are a bad example for what this thread is trying to discuss. Nobody really cares too much about most (99%?) of what we do, so the stakes are low. The economy? Religion? Politics? The high stakes and large numbers of people involved makes objectivity very hard.

Patrick Lang

DS et al

String theory, membrane theory, Einstein's general theory. It is all just opinion. pl

Patrick Lang


Nietzsche and I are old pals pl

Patrick Lang


Until someone interprets the data differently. The consensus of the "community!" Hah Hah. "Peer reviewed!" More Hah Hah. Sheep with Ph.Ds. The ultimate in absurdity is the pseudo-science, political "science." pl


I personally would have fired him as well - but NOT for expressing an opinion, as that is what analysts are supposed to do.

I would have canned him for (i) expressing completely idiotic opinions (as his boss, I would also be allowed opinions, I guess - and the suicide bomber you need to be worried about isn't the guy dressed up in some stereotypical garb, whatever that may be; it's the guy dressed as an executive carrying a briefcase) and (ii) slanting his opinions to pander to the audience he's talking to (more 'conservative' on Fox, more 'liberal' on NPR).

I don't see any point in employing an analyst who has proven multiple times that you can't trust his work product.

Patrick Lang


in government it was virtually impossible to fire anyone so my method in dealing with analytic incompetence was to ignore their work. It made me unpopular. Sob! pl



"String theory, membrane theory, Einstein's general theory. It is all just opinion."

And if you use general relativity to predict something, and that prediction is correct, and you repeat that success . . . over and over in different contexts. . . is that still 'opinion'? Someone may come along with an improvement, or an exception to the rule, but does that make the original theory 'opinion' or just incomplete? If so, the word "opinion" no longer has any useful meaning, and there is no point saying that well-tested scientific theories (string stuff does not rise to that level, btw) are "just opinion," and you have begged the question.

That said, the sciences are as prone to fads as anywhere else. Is that what you mean?


Juan Cole calls Williams' speech "hate speech." Paranoid but not hate. Every news agency follows an ideology and Williams does not conform to NPR group-think, though they are more balanced in their reporting than FOX. For the far left view listen to Pacifica Radio. Why should we ignore the fact some Muslims want to harm us? Considering how the U.S. treats the Muslim world, I'm surprised they all don't hate us.


The true Fourth Estate walked onto a claymore mine years ago. RIP!

Juan Williams? Lets see.. 18.6% of the American population is unemployed. More and more Americans are seeking public assistance just to get by. We are screwing the pooch in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The ME is doing its washer machine act and our own political season is starting to look like a Shia/Sunni firefight.

And we are now talking about someone who got fired and rehired within 24 hours for $2 Million?

Move on..move on..nothing to see here but another Journo taking a walk into the ego zone....


Einstein's general theory? Did he have something to say about Generals? Petreaus relative to Odierno for example?

General and special theories have been shown to correct by experimentation. There are relativistic corrections in a variety of systems including GPS.

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