Juan Williams still doesn’t get it, is rich anyway

Fox gives the former NPR analyst, who still refuses to acknowledge any prejudice, a multimillion-dollar new deal

Topics: Fox News, NPR, 9/11, Islam, Media Criticism, Religion, Juan Williams, War Room,

Juan Williams still doesn't get it, is rich anywayFILE- This undated photo released by SeniorNet shows NPR news analyst Juan Williams. NPR News says that it has terminated the contract of Williams after remarks he made about Muslims on The O'Reilly Factor. (AP Photo/SeniorNet, File) NO SALES (Credit: AP)

The firing of Juan Williams (and his subsequent full-time hiring — at an insane $2 million — by Fox News) for saying he is afraid of Muslims (and adding that it is OK and right to be afraid of Muslims) is the perfect sort of overwrought nonevent for our obsessively navel-gazing media-political establishment. Old bores of the traditional media love a tale of one of their own saying something stupid and getting fired for it (it is usually outrageous when this happens unless the stupid thing said was about the Jews). The right wing immediately goes into a tizzy whenever anyone, anywhere, can be spun into sounding like some sort of victim of liberal political correctness. (As an added bonus, conservatives now get to launch an ACORN-style campaign against “government-funded” NPR.) The news is of no interest to anyone in the world outside this sphere, beyond the segment of NPR’s 20 million listeners who liked Williams so much that they called in today, weeping. (Which, truth be told, is probably a decent number of people — folks who love public radio think of the people on it like family, in my experience.)

The good reason to fire Juan Williams is that he’s predictable and boring and his appearances on Fox reflect poorly on NPR. This, for all I know, was the actual reason he was fired. But this is a very bad way to explain that firing:

A “news analyst” can’t express “views?” Oy.

But Williams still can’t acknowledge the essential bigotry of his statements. This, from Williams’ defensive, deeply stupid column on his firing, is telling (emphasis mine):

Two days later, Ellen Weiss, my boss at NPR called to say I had crossed the line, essentially accusing me of bigotry. She took the admission of my visceral fear of people dressed in Muslim garb at the airport as evidence that I am a bigot. She said there are people who wear Muslim garb to work at NPR and they are offended by my comments.

That is really the perfect explanation for what was wrong with Williams’ remarks, and it seems like the point at which an empathetic person might actually apologize. But Williams does not reflect on that, at all. Maybe he doesn’t believe it’s true. Maybe he thinks those people are somehow wrong to be offended. He’s deluded enough, after all, to consider his firing for saying something stupid “a chilling assault on free speech” — demonstrating a Palin-esque reading of the First Amendment that should embarrass the author of a biography of Thurgood Marshall. Maybe Juan Williams actually thinks being afraid of a religious or ethnic group solely because of the way they look or dress isn’t bigoted (he keeps insisting as much!), in which case, NPR is justified in firing him — as CNN was in firing Rick Sanchez — for reasons of stupidity.

But because he is a useful pawn in the war on the Liberal Media and their relentless politically correct Muslim-Coddling, he is now one of the best-compensated pretend liberal news analysts in the nation.

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>