Commentary Magazine


Juan Williams Too Diverse for Liberal NPR

When National Public Radio fired commentator Juan Williams last year, they may have hoped it would be a one-day story. But what followed was a major controversy that wound up costing a number of executives at the network their jobs. But the ordeal isn’t over for NPR. Williams has written a new book about his firing from the network that is coming out next week. The advance interviews that Williams and his wife are giving to the media make it clear he believes he was just too black and too independent to survive in what is a cloister for white, college-educated liberals.

In an interview with Politico, Williams details the way NPR tried to censor his comments and sought to have him disassociate himself from Fox News, where he also served as a commentator. Even worse, despite NPR’s claim of Olympian objectivity, Williams says its left-wing bias is reinforced by a desire to please large contributors such as George Soros:

[Williams] also believes that NPR’s coverage is skewed by its major donors — the most famous of whom, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, gave a $1.8 million donation the same week he was fired, further stoking accusations of NPR’s liberal bias.

“The idea was that we have to satisfy these deep-pocketed liberals in order to keep the money flowing, and we want that money,” he said. “And it began to influence the journalism.”

While Williams says that in contrast to the behavior of NPR executives, the people at Fox were quite happy to let him say whatever he wanted to say, he doesn’t let the network completely off the hook, stating its news operation has a conservative slant. But given the refusal of the rest of the mainstream media– and especially NPR–to admit their liberal bias, Fox needn’t apologize.

Just as damning are the comments of Williams’ wife Delise, who told Newsmax:

“So-called liberals” at NPR treated her — a light-skinned African-American — as if she didn’t exist. … Delise says that she and Juan were the only blacks at NPR parties, a point confirmed by Juan. In general, both say, African-Americans were found only in low-level jobs such as security guards.

To anyone who has listened to NPR’s news programs, reports about the arrogant and insular nature of their staff and the narrow spectrum of views that are tolerated there are hardly surprising. Williams ends his book with a call for an end to the federal subsidies for this liberal enclave. It’s only a matter of time before the government gravy train stops for NPR. When it does, perhaps we’ll look back at Juan Williams’ firing as the turning point in that debate.