Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 24, 2010

QUOTE OF THE DAY.... A fair amount of the Sunday shows appear to have been devoted to discussing NPR's decision to part ways with Juan Williams. "Fox News Sunday," perhaps not surprisingly given Williams' presence for the roundtable, talked about it at some length, including Brit Hume's suggestion that perhaps NPR is racist.

On the flip side, Andrew Sullivan raised a fair point, noting, "On Fox News, if you say something bigoted, you get rewarded, you get promoted, and you get celebrated -- and that's a direct media strategy."

But it was E.J. Dionne, appearing on "Meet the Press," whose words seemed especially relevant this morning: "NPR is quite simply one of the best news organizations in the world... Fox News, on the other hand, is a Republican propaganda network."

Now, Dionne has a reputation as an influential center-left voice -- he identified himself later in the show as a "liberal" -- but it's worth noting that there was no pushback when he made the observation.

I found this noteworthy, not because it was new, but because of Dionne's willingness to state this simply as a matter of incontrovertible fact. We've all seen plenty of commentators, including the one you're reading now, describe Fox News as a "Republican propaganda network." But here was a respected member of the D.C. political establishment, stating plainly on one of the leading Sunday shows -- where such talk is uncommon -- what we all know to be true about Fox News.

Good for him. Here's hoping others also drop the "some have accused" and "many Democrats believe" pretenses, and just start describing the network the same way.

Steve Benen 2:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (35)

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Dionne's always been better than progressives gave him credit for IMHO, but the intensity and baselessness of the attacks on Obama from the right over the past two years have unquestionably opened his eyes a bit. He almost never pussyfoots around the truth anymore.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on October 24, 2010 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

What they're not talking about is that Juan Williams has spent years saying stupid things on Fox which inevitably reflects badly on NPR and NPR has never done anything about it before because they were afraid they would get just the kind of reaction you could predict from the rightist goofball circuit.

This was just the last straw for Juan Williams who they should have dumped years ago.

Posted by: cld on October 24, 2010 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

the 1st amendment does not guarantee a constitutional right to piss off your boss.

Posted by: mellowjohn on October 24, 2010 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

I will certainly follow Dionne's lead and start calling Fox the Republican propaganda network. I will no longer use the name Fox. RPN it is.

I didn't watch the video, but were they really discussing if this was a valid campaign issue? Seriously? who thinks the average voter is going to give two shits about NPR and Juan Williams?

Posted by: Alli on October 24, 2010 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

What's even more remarkable is that we should find this remarkable. In the UK, Fox's leading analog, the Sun newspaper (prop. R. Murdoch) is not regarded as anything other than a propaganda rag that is read by morons. How Fox has managed avoid being tarred with the same brush by the mainstream remains a mystery to me.

Posted by: PeteCO on October 24, 2010 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

1. Reading the NY TImes today, it was really depressing to read all the crap that is going on - Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, economy, etc... and to think that anyone could give a shit about Juan Williams ...

2. The Foxies and their fellow travelers [and most Americans] seem to be completely ignorant of First Amendment rights [ also discussed in the NY Times today] - the freedom of speech clause pertains to GOVERMENT making laws that prohibit free speech. The right has used this effectively in the campaign finance case; use it effectively to bolster workplace rules, etc. NPR is well within its rights to fire whomever they want, for cause, just as Fox, CNN, Ford, etc. does...

3. I sent NPR a strong message of support. I thought they took his words out of context, but I complimented them on finally firing someone who is no longer a reporter, and a bad analyst, at that. I urged them to do the same with Daniel Schorr ["the trouble in Russia reminds me of being on Nixon's enemies list..."]; Cokie Roberts, Steve Inskeep and hi sasymmetric indignation with Democrats vs REpub. while interviewing, etc

Posted by: bigutah on October 24, 2010 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

What about when OBAMA CLAIMS HE CAN MURDER US CITIZENS WITHOUT DUE PROCESS?

Isn't that a "bigger deal" than any of the nonsense in this thread?

How come that isn't "news" here?

Oh yeah - nothing but mindless obama/dlc boosterism here.

So how is all that "hopey-changey" crap working out fer you if you are not a rich banker, wall-street investor, or auto maker.

Posted by: bretts wee little winkie on October 24, 2010 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

I know obamabots and dlc corporate shills will never click on a link that tells the truth about their corrupt and dysfunctional party - so here is some of the text from Glen Greenwald (a man with solid credentials in constitutional law and progressive/liberal ideas:


In late January, I wrote about the Obama administration's "presidential assassination program," whereby American citizens are targeted for killings far away from any battlefield, based exclusively on unchecked accusations by the Executive Branch that they're involved in Terrorism. At the time, The Washington Post's Dana Priest had noted deep in a long article that Obama had continued Bush's policy (which Bush never actually implemented) of having the Joint Chiefs of Staff compile "hit lists" of Americans, and Priest suggested that the American-born Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was on that list. The following week, Obama's Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, acknowledged in Congressional testimony that the administration reserves the "right" to carry out such assassinations.

Today, both The New York Times and The Washington Post confirm that the Obama White House has now expressly authorized the CIA to kill al-Alwaki no matter where he is found, no matter his distance from a battlefield. I wrote at length about the extreme dangers and lawlessness of allowing the Executive Branch the power to murder U.S. citizens far away from a battlefield (i.e., while they're sleeping, at home, with their children, etc.) and with no due process of any kind. I won't repeat those arguments -- they're here and here -- but I do want to highlight how unbelievably Orwellian and tyrannical this is in light of these new articles today.

During the 2008 campaign, it was a lie and a sham that obama was a "constitutional scholar".

Posted by: bretts wee little winkie on October 24, 2010 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

They can't fire Daniel Schorr. He's dead.

Posted by: Art Hackett on October 24, 2010 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, Brett, but I am much more concerned about the nearly 130,000 well documented deaths of Iraqis, many of them civilians, that Iraq Body Count now recognizes in the wake of the latest WikiLeaks document release. When you add to that the hundreds of thousands more "excess deaths" in Iraq found by other stuies, and divide by the ~25M population of Iraq, the Bush/Cheney GOPer administration looks nearly as bad as the Baathisths. And these are the folks who are out to get Obama and are very, very close to winning Congress thanks to the stupidity and ignorance of the American voter. Against that, I will shed few tears over a Wanted Dead or Alive poster for an American born crazy loon terrorist. If putting a stinger in Al Wacky's ass helps keeps the Cheneyites out of power, I'll accept the trade.

Posted by: vhh on October 24, 2010 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

I share your outrage, Bretts, i really do. Where was / is your moral indignation over the Iraq war? The thousands of civilians who were killed in Iraq? The billions of dollars wasted on the war? The outragous ways in which we treated Iraqies, and how that put our troops in danger? We are chest deep in shit; about 90% created by Bush acting as a stooge. Now I would love for Obama to get us the hell out, but until you tell me how we are to do that and not leave two huge holes that Iran will happily backfill in 5 minutes, save your sanctimous bullshit for the Foxy echo chamber.

Posted by: bigutah on October 24, 2010 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

I share everyone's outrage over Irq war - its obama's war now and so are the war crimes.

Ditto afganistan.

Can't post all the ways obama has screwed his progressive/liberal base - so pleases don't be idiots assuming you know everything about what everyone else stands for.

obama threw Russ Feingold under the bus - maybe because he spoke out against these wars.

Funny how some scream about war-crimes and treason when it was chimpy, but now that its "our guy", its OK.

We were lied to about that during the campaign - obama sold out his base, period, end-of-story.

Differences between chimpy and obama - not much.

So how does that hopey-changey stuff feel today?

Posted by: bretts wee little winkie on October 24, 2010 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Did Roger Ailes pay Juan Williams to make those remarks?

Posted by: freelunch on October 24, 2010 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Throughout all this dust-up, I've had several questions. First, was Juan Williams trying to give NPR a reason to fire him? He says they were looking for a reason, so I think it's fair to ask if he was trying to give them one. Second, did Fox News promise him a $2 million contract BEFORE he said what he said, a contract based on being exclusive with Fox? The two questions are related. If Juan Williams prompts NPR to fire him, rather than his simply choosing to leave NPR in favor of Fox, Fox gets LOTS more free publicity from the events. And he doesn't look like he's compromising his integrity. He was the victim! I wouldn't put it past him / them.

And, lastly, what exactly is "Muslim garb" anyway? Any historian or anthropologist will tell you that clothing is largely cultural. I have Muslim friends here in northern California who dress modestly, but not very distinctively from the people around them. Terrorists try to blend in with the crowd, not stand out.

Posted by: jpeckjr on October 24, 2010 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Good for Dionne.

And clearly one should look into what Fox offered him before he made his 'offensive' remarks that apparently were just the last straw for his employer.

I have no great affection for NPR but Fox is so beyond the pale of being able to claim the 'news' mantle it really should be called The Republican Propaganda Network.

Posted by: jjm on October 24, 2010 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

You can look at EJ Dionne as sort of a barometer of center-left beliefs in the Beltway. If he is openly calling Fox a Republican Propaganda network where bigotry is rewarded, that means that this is the way the channel is regarded in "polite circles" among the DC establishment. And that's a good thing!

Posted by: Tyro on October 24, 2010 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Is it a good thing, Tyro? So far I haven't seen the DC establishment leading a charge against the Republican Propaganda network. Have you?

Posted by: Ron Byers on October 24, 2010 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

Juan Williams is the new Alan Colmes.

Who I didnt pay attention to either.

Posted by: Kill Bill on October 24, 2010 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Let's all dress up as muslims on hallow
een and go knock on juan williams' door. Let's see, what will we wear? Or maybe it's just the skin color . . .

Posted by: pj in jesusland on October 24, 2010 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

strange, when you think our political conversations can't get ant dumber, they inevitably do

Posted by: Jamie on October 24, 2010 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

oops that was "any dumber"

Posted by: Jamie on October 24, 2010 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Uhhhhh Brett....chimpy initiated the "murder American citizens w/o due process" action.

And the hopey-changey thing is working just fine for me....sorry you don't get it...but that's YOUR problem...not ours.

Posted by: PJ on October 24, 2010 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Kudos to E.J. Dionne! Finally, a mainstream journalist with the guts to tell the truth about Fox Conservative Propaganda Network.
Anyone who honestly believes that their employer would not kick them to the curb for making racist (or sexist or homophobic) remarks on national TV is totally delusional. Americans are entitled to free speech, but not to employment. This is just another conservative media tempest to distract attention from the fact that Republicans have had nothing to offer for more than 2 years. It take some of the heat off the Party of No's continued support for corporations and the super rich.
Only Fox Conservative Propaganda Network would defend Williams' racist spew, then promote the racist, give him a big raise, and ramp up a media campaign to condemn the company that fired him. The rest of the corporate world expects employees to follow policy and terms of employment. That includes respecting diversity and showing common courtesy and human decency.
Don't think it's fair? Offends your first amendment rights? Fine, happy unemployment!

Posted by: Carol All on October 24, 2010 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

re: Brett

agreed re: outrage...

but don't let that cloud your vision about what actually *has* worked ... or the difference between Obama and Bush.

Healthcare reform matters - indeed no single-payer etc... but as a profound first step this was HUGE. and Bush wouldn't ever get close to it.

we still have Monsanto in charge of agriculture - and no pushback on Bush's expansion of the executive.

agreed.

and I hold the Dems to be accountable for Bush's wars - where was obstructionism then?

I really get what you are saying ... but don't pretend there isn't a difference... there is.

Posted by: jackifus on October 24, 2010 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

Dionne has spent one too many mornings on chat shows. During the '08 election cycle, he was in awe of McCain despite supporting Obama. It's nice to see him get his spine back. I wonder how long it will last.

Posted by: Rich on October 24, 2010 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

jackifus has it right.

By all means we should catalog the Obama administration's and other Democrats' misdeeds, and then shout them from the rooftops -- after each election season. That doesn't mean that we cover the misdeeds up now, just that we don't shout about them now. We talk about them as appropriate, but we also remind people that even a cynically amoral leader is still better than an equally cynically amoral leader who also makes 98% of us poorer.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on October 24, 2010 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

Look, I'm sure Hume and other conservatives are quite sincere in their concern for Williams' free speech rights. After all, don't you remember how they all came running to defend Dave Weigel when he was fired at WaPo?

Yeah, me neither.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on October 24, 2010 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

Dionne is typically clueless and a pretty far left writer. NPR will take a big hit from the next Congress for their weird decision to do this just before an election.

Posted by: Mike K on October 24, 2010 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

NPR will take a big hit from the next Congress for their weird decision to do this just before an election.

NPR's "decision to do this"? To do what? Send Juan Williams to the O'Reilly show to talk about his fear of Muslims?

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on October 25, 2010 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Mike K once again demonstrates why it can be difficult to tell him apart from his parody troll, Myke K.

It's possible that NPR will take a hit next Congress, and they have admitted that they were politically tone-deaf to hand Fox News an issue it could generate fake outrage over just before the election. However, Juan William's comments were intolerant at best, he had made comments that like this damage the impartiality required by his job at NPR and counseled to avoid them, and NPR had every right, even a duty at this point, to fire him.

Posted by: tanstaafl on October 25, 2010 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

The cynical, manipulative Williams cleverly increased his street value to Fox at a time of contract negotiations.

Posted by: bob h on October 25, 2010 at 6:40 AM | PERMALINK

Andrew Sullivan's blog contains a past quote from Williams that reveals the extent of his hypocrisy and anti-Muslim bias. However good Williams's past reporting on the civil rights movement was, he has become a solidly partisan Fox News hack.

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/10/juan-williams-busted.html

"Neither black nor white store owners are in business to display the virtues of admitting people of all colors, creeds, and fashions to their stores. They are in business to make money. I would want to take precautions to prevent robbery; I would look closely at people entering the store. The race of a potential customer would be one factor among many to be considered as I girded myself against thieves.

But in Washington and almost all other major cities, blacks do patronize jewelry stores. A jeweler in Beverly Hills who closed his door to heavily bejeweled Mr. T would be foolishly closing his cash register. Unless I am a racist, race and age cannot be the sole deciding factors in calculating whom I will and will not let into my store. And I certainly would not close my door to, say, all young black men - not even to those who are casually dressed and behaving nervously. I would act cautiously in dealing with them, as I would with an antic, strangely dressed white man.

As a cabdriver I would apply the same considerations. Discrimination can be used judiciously. I would certainly exclude one class of people: those who struck me as dangerous. Nervous-looking people with bulges under their jackets would not be picked up; nor would those who looked obviously drunk or stoned. It all comes down to a subjective judgment of what dangerous people look like. This does not necessarily entail a racial judgment. Cabdrivers who don't pick up young black men as a rule are making a poorly informed decision. Racism is a lazy man's substitute for using good judgment.

The elevator question is disingenuous. I suspect you are suggesting that I am a white woman getting into an apartment building elevator with a strange black man. Of course, black women have just as much to fear as white women. Nevertheless, black women living in black neighborhoods ride elevators with black men frequently, and do so without being raped. In this situation and all others, common sense is my constant guard. Common sense becomes racism when skin color becomes a formula for figuring out who is a danger to me."

Posted by: bluestatedon on October 25, 2010 at 7:55 AM | PERMALINK

Juan was just schooling Brietbart and O'Keefe on the proper "Brietbarting" of the gullible U.S. news consumers. He will be well rewarded.

Posted by: Bathrobespierre on October 25, 2010 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

I just noticed that imbecile Rick Santelli is sitting next to Rachel Maddow in the photo. Did I miss the right-wing coup or is is still November 2?

Posted by: Bob on October 25, 2010 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

freelunch: Did Roger Ailes pay Juan Williams to make those remarks?

Yes. But only $2 million.

Posted by: chrenson on October 25, 2010 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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