Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fine, whatever

So, NPR fired Juan Williams over saying "less" about his concern with 'self-identifying Muslims on planes' than what I would argue some NPR commentators said (about Bush during the Bush years). I don't know, I can't get real outraged about it. (Or some are saying it's because he "broke contract" by appearing on Fox, but that doesn't seem to hold water, from what I've read)

For one thing: Williams is a smart guy. I don't agree with him all the time, but I do think he's a smart guy. He'll land on his feet. He'll probably wind up doing better at Fox or where ever he winds up full time in the future. Or he'll write more books. He'll be fine. I also think he's a strong enough guy not to be overly hurt by this. Oh, sure, I'm sure in private he was pretty pissed off. But I don't expect to see him whining about it in public, or even referring to the incident a few months from now. (Also, I believe he has far too much class to whine about it in public...unlike some public figures I could name)

As for NPR....whatever consequences they get, they get. If people decide to stop pledging money, fine. That's the people's choice. NPR made a boneheaded move and if people choose to punish them for it, so be it. And if the government begins questioning their funding, fine. I admit that NPR isn't my favorite use of taxpayer dollars, but then again, I think it's far from the very worst use of them out there. If they get defunded, fine: they can hit up more corporate donors (if they can get them), or shift their business model, or something. Perhaps in a new tighter economy we do have to do things like cut NPR and PBS loose; after all, I know lots of families that dropped their cable, or stopped having dinners out, things like that - cutting out non-essentials so that essentials could be paid for.

I think part of my "meh" reaction is that (a) I don't have an NPR affiliate near me and (b) I don't really listen to them even when I'm near one. True, most often the classical stations in a city (if they even have one) is a public station, and I like classical music - but also, in this day and age, there is Sirius and digital radio through the cable system and online services like Pandora. It's not like it's 1978 and my only choice for classical music is to find a radio station or buy a stereo and records.

I will say it was an extremely boneheaded move, I think, on NPR's part. I don't know, I've heard people making dark allegations about the "real" reason for it. I think probably the reason had to do more with Williams being a commentator on Fox and people at NPR being told that Fox is poison, and thinking they'd best cut the man loose. And they can just deal with the fallout for firing a well-liked and well-respected commentator. (And one of the few African-American voices on the network, if I'm not mistaken.)

But whatever. The phrase "They made their bed, now let them lie in it" is my main reaction to what NPR did.

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