While it is true that most media stories are “inside baseball” for people like me, it is also true that not only do I own, control and create media, I am a consumer as well.
Perhaps I cast a more jaundiced eye on my chosen profession than many, but I watch, listen and read as much or maybe more than most consumers.
All of that is a long way of getting around to saying that I, too, have my favorite commentators and among those are Juan Williams, late of National Public Radio.
I’ve never met the man and might not even recognize him in the street.
But he is a thinking man’s liberal who gives his honest opinion when he is asked and that is often as a contributor to Fox News Channel. That he was frequently on shows like Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren, apparently has been a source of irritation to his day-job employers at NPR.
You see, apparently, freedom of speech doesn’t apply to taxpayer-funded liberal think-tanks which is exactly what NPR is.
I have never owned or run a radio station with the kinds of budget that NPR has but we have more listeners to our stations in Winnemucca, Elko and Ely than many big-city NPR stations have.
Last week, Williams was on the O’Reilly Factor and the following conversation ensued:
Williams said: “Look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.” Williams also warned O’Reilly against blaming all Muslims for “extremists,” saying Christians shouldn’t be blamed for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
NPR fired him for that.
Now if NPR was run by me (there’s a visual for you), that would be one thing. I once fired Gordon Liddy from our stations (actually his show) because I didn’t like something he said. I once—actually several times—dismissed Rush Limbaugh because I didn’t think his show was a good business deal for us.
But I don’t get tax dollars with which to run my business.
If I have a particular viewpoint, if Rupert Murdoch has a particular viewpoint, if the late H.L. Menken had a particular viewpoint we all understand(stood) one thing. Freedom of the press is largely for the man who owns one.
NPR and PBS don’t own theirs. We, the taxpayers, do. The taxpayers were the midwives at their births and have funded their upbringing ever since. I was there because my father played a huge role in the development of public television and a smaller role in public radio.
Now if NPR wants to raise all of their own money, I have no problem with their firing of Juan Williams.
But they want us to support them with our tax dollars.
NPR and PBS were founded back in the day when you could legitimately claim a lack of diversity in radio and television. That was one of the things—the other being the educational potential of television—which intrigued my father.
There were three TV networks—even Fox had yet to be born—and three radio stations in most towns. Even Spiro Agnew pointed out that the news was decided by the nattering nabobs of negativism who controlled what the news was.
PBS has the temerity these days to run an ad campaign which says “if PBS doesn’t do it, who will?”
How’s this for an answer? Discovery Communications, NBC Universal, Disney, CBS, Viacom, C-SPAN and 500 other networks including not one but seven full-time news or business networks. We’ve come a long way from the time that Louis Rukeyser’s Wall Street Week was the only business show on TV.
So why are the taxpayers still funding this mostly liberal drivel? Well, the answer is always, it’s not very much money.
But , nonetheless, it is the same money with which the taxpayers bought most of General Motors, AIG and use to keep 90 per cent of the land in Nevada.
On November 2, you can strike back. Consider the firing of Juan Williams another good reason to go to the polls and vote a loud “NO!” on government funding and control of most things.
Public Broadcasting, funded by tax dollars isn’t the problem. It’s a symptom.