Fox News Anchor Chris Wallace Is “In Touch” With His Ass

Chris Wallace has been described by some of his peers as the face of journalistic integrity on the famously biased Fox News Channel. Even the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart once praised him saying that…

“I think that you are here, in some respects, to bring a credibility and an integrity to an organization that might not otherwise have it without your presence.”

That was an uncharacteristically muddled moment for Stewart. He was right, of course, that Fox News has no credibility, but he was way off in his assessment of Wallace who has repeatedly demonstrated that he is right at home on the network that deliberately falsifies the news.

On today’s Fox News Sunday, Wallace provided another example of his overt prejudice when he rudely cut off his colleague Juan Williams (video below). They were discussing presidential politics when Williams sought to make a point about the Republican’s affinity for the rich One Percenters:

WILLIAMS: The Republicans, in this time of Occupy Wall Street, are the protectors of the super rich.

WALLACE: [Laughing] I’m not sure if we should talk about Occupy Wall Street as a plus anymore…

WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think we should!

WALLACE: Really? With all the violence in the streets? You really think that most of the American people…

Wallace pointedly interrupted Williams to make a snarky remark about OWS, which he followed up with a distortion about the incidence of violence. Most of the violent episodes at OWS sites have been perpetrated by law enforcement against the protestors. Williams made a valiant attempt to counter Wallace and complete his thoughts, but Wallace was unrelenting.

WILLIAMS: You know what? You are getting distracted, and you’re getting distracted by people who are crazy…

WALLACE: I think I’m in touch with what most people are thinking, which is they’re getting fed up with it.

When did Wallace become the arbiter of “what most people are thinking?” He is the host of the lowest rated Sunday news program and a representative of a minority viewpoint with regard to the key issues expressed by the 99% movement. Every poll shows that broad majorities agree with the agenda of OWS, particularly on taxation of the rich, protection of Social Security and Medicare, and reining in the power of corrupt and abusive corporations and getting them out of politics.

Clearly Wallace is wildly out of touch with the American people and pitifully unaware of that fact. Consequently, he persists in trying to censor Williams who plainly tells Wallace that he is not in touch.

WILLIAMS: The fact that is when you ask most people is Wall Street out of control; is there inequality in terms of income in this country? People say ‘Yes.” And those are the basic tenets of Occupy Wall Street.

At this point Wallace cuts Williams off again even as Williams is pleading to be allowed to finish is point.

WALLACE: Juan, there’s a limit. We want to play fair here.

WILLIAMS: You’re not playing fair, but go right ahead.

Wallace was determined to prevent any positive characterization of OWS from being articulated on his program. It was obviously a frustrating moment for Williams who criticized Wallace on the air for his unfairness. That’s nearly unheard of in these news talk circles.

It is particularly interesting in that Williams regards himself as the victim of editorial repression at the hands of his previous employers at NPR. He wrote a book on the matter called “Muzzled.” One has to wonder if that’s how he felt this morning with Chris Wallace.

What Got Into Jon Stewart?

The Daily Show is routinely the most intelligent and entertaining program on television. And it achieves that despite being mostly about politics and the press. Stewart is one of nation’s great satirists and commentators.

However, last night’s episode (video below), while having moments of good humor, hit some surprisingly sour notes that were both unfunny and misrepresented the facts. The show’s first segment was focused on President Obama’s White House speech regarding the debt ceiling crisis. The first sign that Stewart was slipping out of bounds was his mockery of the President for delivering a “belt-tightening” speech in the opulent environs of the White House. Did Stewart expect the President to take a camera crew to a local soup kitchen? Would he have been satisfied if the speech was delivered from the White House laundry room? This complaint simply made no sense.

Then Stewart played a portion the speech where the President described the competing plans to resolve the crisis, saying…

“Basically, the debate has centered around two different approaches. The first approach says, let’s live within our means by making serious, historic cuts in government spending. Let’s cut domestic spending to the lowest level it’s been since Dwight Eisenhower was President.”

Stewart cut the video at that point to mock the President for proposing a plan that sounded more like it came from the Republicans. He would have been right except for the part he cut out that included this:

“Finally, let’s ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to give up some of their tax breaks and special deductions. This balanced approach asks everyone to give a little without requiring anyone to sacrifice too much.”

Had Stewart left that in there would have been no punchline. It was the core component of the President’s plan that seeks to raise revenue from corporations and the wealthy. It is what distinguishes his approach from the Tea Party/GOP. And Stewart left it on the editing room floor on behalf of mediocre joke. But the worst part came after Obama made an appeal for viewers to contact their representatives in congress:

“So I’m asking you all to make your voice heard. If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your Member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.”

To this Stewart offered his patented smirk and queried incredulously…

“That’s your idea? Call your Congressman? Did the President just quit? I mean seriously, you’re the President. You’re asking US to call congress? Oh yeah, sure I’ll the congress. Why don’t you come here and mow my _______ lawn because I got ____ to do. It’s like you’ve given up.”

Stewart’s humor generally contains poignant insights cloaked in hilarity. But on this occasion he is badly adrift. What exactly does he think is wrong with asking the American people to take an active role in their government’s processes? How can he characterize Obama as having “given up” just because he believes that the people’s voice matters? What could be more patriotic than encouraging citizens to get involved?

I’m sorry, Jon, if you think that asking people to participate in government, at a time when their welfare is at great risk, is too much to do. I’m sorry if you have to mow your lawn and can’t be bothered with conveying your opinion to your representative on a critical issue. Many Americans will not have lawns to mow if the nation goes into default, interests rates rise, and they can no longer make their mortgage payments.

The upshot of Stewart’s position is that people should tend to their personal affairs and the President, and others in Washington, should fix everything for us, magically discerning our wishes. That is neither democratic, constructive or funny. And for his trouble, Stewart was the featured headline on Fox Nation with a headline that blared: “Jon Stewart Turns on Obama.” Try again Jon. I’ll still watch tonight.

And, by the way, was it really necessary to suck up to Juan Williams and refrain from challenging any of his self-serving PR? I mean, you couldn’t even make fun of his book title, “Muzzled,” despite the fact that he broadcasts daily on a platform where he reaches millions. I wish I was that muzzled.

WTF: Fox News Is Now Psychoanalyzing Media Matters Execs

To anyone who thought that Fox News would become a more responsible and sane journalistic enterprise after the departure of Glenn Beck, your expectations have been dashed against the jagged rocks of reality (I told you so).

For the past couple of weeks Fox News has been engaging in a dogged effort to discredit the media watchdog group, Media Matters. They have sicced their most vicious attack poodles on them and openly beseeched their viewers to file complaints with the IRS to challenge Media Matters’ tax-exempt status. Every day they bump this two week old story to the top of their rabidly partisan web site, Fox Nation, above other more recent news. Their Saturday “News Watch” program devoted fully half the show to this one subject. But today they have taken a running leap off a cliff that leads to a Grand Canyon of stupidity, hilarity, and jaw-dropping shame.

Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy, perhaps the stupidest man on TV, brought in Glenn Beck’s co-author and “doctor” Keith Ablow for an interview that careened off into the surreal. Ablow pretended that he could psychoanalyze someone whom he has never examined or even met. That is a sign of certain quackery reminiscent of “doctor” Bill Frist’s pathetic attempt to diagnose the terminally ill and vegetative Terri Schiavo. Here is a portion of the exchange:

Steve Doocy: I understand you’ve done a psychological profile of [Media Matters founder] David Brock. What did you find?

Keith Ablow: Well, look, I looked at him from a distance, but you don’t have to look very hard to see into the man’s mind apparently. This is somebody who seemingly has such low self-esteem, Steve, that he’s lurching from one group to another. Whoever will embrace him and reassure him that he’s a decent guy and be his cheerleader in a dramatic way, that’s who he’s gonna be with. […] You can’t believe this guy because he’s full of self-hatred which he then projects on the world around him in order to get love. So he’s gotta have somebody to hate because he thinks that’s the way, the best way to galvanize the love in his direction. So yes, it’s always about being a hit man, you know, exposing someone. There’s very sexual connotations here too.

That is about as idiotic an appraisal as has ever been articulated aloud. I pity anyone who actually has this fraud as an analyst. Ablow has no basis whatsoever to arrive at his conclusions. He is merely taking obviously hostile swipes at someone he is being paid to disparage. He should have his license revoked. And with all of his brazen, personal animosity he fails to provide a single example of anything that Brock has done that is incorrect or unsubstantiated.

This attack is purely personal. Ablow’s notation of “lurching from one group to another” references the fact that Brock was once a conservative, but is now a liberal. However, Brock was a conservative for many years and, after evolving more to the left, he has remained liberal for the past decade. That behavior is hardly what any rational person would describe as “lurching.” In fact, it’s rather stable. Would Ablow also regard Andrew Breitbart, David Horowitz, Rick Perry, and Michele Bachmann as lurching, self-haters? They are all former Democrats or liberals.

Ablow neglects to explain what the “sexual connotations” are. He probably only raised that issue to remind his audience that Brock is openly gay, a factor that the Fox audience will regard as negative. At one point Ablow tried to inject that Brock’s having been adopted had some part in this absurd analysis, as if adoption is a precursor to the alleged self-hatred Ablow is inventing. And he signed off the segment by telling Doocy, in a declarative tone, that Brock is “A very dangerous man, my friend.”

Ablow is a very disturbed and unprofessional little weasel (I can’t bring myself to call him a man). His medical credibility is identical to the journalistic credibility of Fox News – Zero. No wonder he is their resident psychiatric expert. The prerequisite to becoming an expert on Fox News is to demonstrate that you have little knowledge of your professed field, and that you’re willing to use your ignorance to advance the Republican agenda.

In addition to this psycho-circus, Fox News also called upon faux-liberal Juan Williams to pile on Media Matters. In an interview with Doocy’s co-host, Brian Kilmeade, Williams said that Media Matters is “about ruining people and trying to take a company down – to destroy a company.” There was not even a hint of irony as he said this while he was trying to ruin people and destroy a company. Then Kilmeade closed the interview with this verbal and graphic appeal to viewers:

“If you want to file a complaint about Media Matters I want you to do this. Go to and click on the “Justice”>/em> tab. We’ll take it from there.”

This is just the latest attempt to drive viewers to a web page where they can file their own complaint to the IRS. As I’ve noted previously, there is no merit to the argument that Media Matters is in violation of their tax-exempt status. To be in violation they would have to be engaging in substantial political (i.e. campaign) or lobbying (i.e. legislative) activities. Media Matters does neither. However, the instructions as presented in the graphic above advise Fox viewers to lie in their complaint. Let me repeat that: Fox is advising their viewers to LIE to the IRS! This is because the instruction to check the boxes for political campaigning and lobbying activities amounts to falsifying the form.

I defy anyone to supply an example of Media Matters either engaging in a political campaign or lobbying any member of any legislative body. Since no such examples have been supplied, the form would be a false representation. The only way that Media Matters can be construed as being in violation of their tax-exempt status by virtue of their attacking Fox, is if Fox is itself a political operation. Of course, Fox denies that. Were they to admit it we might have a different story. In the meantime, if these complaint forms required the complainant to sign under oath, then Fox would be guilty of suborning perjury. As it is they are merely guilty of attempting to flood the IRS with frivolous and phony paperwork. Which for conservatives seeking to reduce the cost and oversight of government is pretty hypocritical.

At the risk of being accused of psychoanalyzing Fox, I must observe that they are obviously scared. They are so afraid of Media Matters that they have become obsessed with destroying it. While most Americans have probably never heard of Media Matters, Fox is elevating them to the top of the news pile, even above Casey Anthony. They know that any organization that shines the light of truth on Fox News is going to make things difficult for an enterprise like Fox whose mission is to disseminate disinformation and keep viewers ignorant.

If you haven’t done so already, this would be a good time to join Media Matters.

Fox News Demonstrates How NOT To Make A Correction

Faux PasOn February 24, Fox News published an article by their in-house pseudo-liberal, Juan Williams. Like any good Fox News Democrat (FND), Williams pretended to advance a liberal viewpoint while attacking what he and Fox regard as a liberal target.

That’s standard operating procedure for Fox. What makes this occurrence worse is that Williams badly mangled the facts that were the whole premise of his attack. (Actually, that’s pretty standard for Fox as well). The Williams article began by stating…

“This week The Washington Post released a stunning poll. But the news did not make its front page.” […] “The poll done by The Washington Post, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University was buried in The Post’s Sunday business section…”

As it turns out, the poll in question was actually printed front and center, section A, page 1, of the Sunday Post. Fox was alerted to this glaring error, but they ignored it for nearly six weeks. Finally they posted this correction on April 5:

EDITOR’S NOTE: The results of the poll referred to in this article were in fact reported on the front page of the Feb. 20 editions of the Washington Post. Mr. Williams regrets the oversight to the Post, and maintains the study’s findings deserved more prominent coverage in other media outlets.

Why did Fox take so long to correct the error? Could it be that they wanted to wait until the story became stale so that few would ever see the correction? And why did Williams temper his “regrets” with a defense of his conclusions that were based on his false reporting? He was inappropriately using a correction notice to pursue an argument he had already lost.

On the other hand, Fox News commits errors far worse than this on a daily basis without ever acknowledging them, so I suppose we should be grateful that Fox bothered to issue a correction at all.

Handicapping The Race For Glenn Beck’s Successor

On April 6th Fox News and Glenn Beck announced that his program would be “transitioning” off the air. Reminds me a little of when Charlie Sheen was transitioned off of Two and a Half Men. And so, as the chalk dust settles, it is time to look ahead.

On April 1st, just a few days prior to this announcement, I rather prophetically “revealed” a list of candidates that Fox News was considering to replace Beck. It included such conservative luminaries as Ann Coulter, Andrew Breitbart, and Ted Nugent. Now I would like to offer my own musings on how Fox could fill their 5:00pm slot.

The Favorite: Judge Andrew Napolitano. He is currently the most frequent fill-in host for Beck and holds almost identical views. If anything, he leans even further off the ledge by openly asserting the 9/11 Truther position that the World Trade Center attack was an inside job.

The Gender Card: Laura Ingraham. She has the reliably wingnut views that are a prerequisite for Fox anchordom. More importantly, she fulfills Fox’s blonde quotient. She’s paid her dues filling in for Bill O’Reilly and would bring a sizable radio audience, just as her predecessor did.

The Young Turk: Eric Bolling. He currently hosts a program on Fox’s floundering business network and may be due for a transfer to the mother ship. He has filled in for Beck and appears as a guest on several Fox shows. But this guy may want it too bad. His delivery is that of someone in a permanent state of shock. On second thought, he may have shot.

The Lone Stranger: Juan Williams. Fox shelled out $2 million for Williams when he was booted out of NPR. By giving him his own show they might be able to justify that ridiculous outlay for an occasional commentator. Plus they would fill a dual demographic hole in their schedule by promoting an African-American liberal. However, that is also two strikes against any Fox News hopeful. Even though Williams is barely a liberal, the fact that he isn’t batshit insane might be enough to disqualify him alone. And since Fox’s audience is more than 98% white, the race card isn’t worth much to them.

The Dark Horse: G. Gordon Liddy. This former Watergate burglar would love to bring his radio shtick to television. He has a loyal following and would be able to retain all of Beck’s survivalist products advertisers. He would provide a consistent transition for the American Patriopaths who revere God, gold, and guns.

Of course, there are plenty of other options for Fox. They could poach Rick Santelli from CNBC. He’s the guy who got the whole Tea Party parade marching. Or they could just stretch Bret Baier’s program for an extra hour. That would be cheap and it would refocus the network on news – something which with they have little experience.

And then there’s my favorite contestant: Victoria Jackson. She has Tea Party cred and is guaranteed to never say anything that would go over the heads of the Fox viewers – or their kids.

Stop Federal Funding Of Fox News

Defund Fox NewsA few weeks ago video pimp and propagandist, James O’Keefe, released a heavily edited and deliberately deceptive video that purported to expose an institutional bias at National Public Radio. It was quickly debunked and denounced as a fraud by analysts across the political spectrum, including those at Glenn Beck’s web site, The Blaze.

Nevertheless, partisans in Congress and agenda-driven conservatives in the press continue to behave as if the video were legitimate. The House of Representatives, on a party-line vote, passed a resolution to defund NPR – a purely symbolic gesture as the Senate is not likely to concur.

The latest attack comes from former NPR correspondent, and confessed bigot, Juan Williams, in an op-ed for The Hill. After first conceding that “NPR is an important platform for journalism,” Williams joins his conservative comrades in calling for federal defunding of NPR. But he also reveals his self-serving and vengeful motivation by slandering NPR in saying that…

“They’re willing to do anything in service of any liberal with money. This includes firing me and skewing the editorial content of their programming.”

Nowhere in the article did Williams support his contention that “liberal money” was behind either his termination or any of its reporting. This is nothing more than a personal vendetta on Williams’ part. He is merely using the funding debate to strike his own blows against a former employer for whom he obviously bears a deep resentment.

However, if the right wants to introduce the issue of federal funding of the media into the public debate, they should be prepared to see their own Fox gored. Fox News has been the beneficiary of government largess for years and it is time to stop it and make Fox pay its own way. As far back as 1999, there have been reports documenting how News Corp, Fox’s parent company, exploited loopholes in tax laws that permitted them to avoid levies that all other citizens have to pay. From The Economist:

“…News Corporation and its subsidiaries paid only A$325m ($238m) in corporate taxes worldwide. In the same period, its consolidated pre-tax profits were A$5.4 billion. So News Corporation has paid an effective tax rate of only around 6%. By comparison, Disney, one of the world’s other media empires, paid 31%. Basic corporate-tax rates in Australia, America and Britain, the three main countries in which News Corporation operates, are 36%, 35% and 30% respectively.”

The article goes on to describe how News Corp used a complex network of accounting dodges including as many as 60 shell companies that were incorporated in such tax havens as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Netherlands Antilles and the British Virgin Islands. More recently, an investigation by the New York Times revealed that…

“By taking advantage of a provision in the law that allows expanding companies like Mr. Murdoch’s to defer taxes to future years, the News Corporation paid no federal taxes in two of the last four years, and in the other two it paid only a fraction of what it otherwise would have owed. During that time, Securities and Exchange Commission records show, the News Corporation’s domestic pretax profits topped $9.4 billion.”

When giant, prosperous, multinational corporations weasel out of their tax obligations, ordinary citizens are the ones who are forced to make up the shortfall. That is effectively a tax subsidy for the corporations funded by you and me and all of the indignant Tea Partiers who claim to oppose special interest favors for the elite.

What’s more, federal bailouts to corporations like General Motors and Citigroup provided them with billions of taxpayer dollars, some of which are eventually spent on advertising that appears on Fox News, in the Wall Street Journal, and other Murdoch assets. Additionally, financial institutions that receive bailout funds use some that money to acquire shares of News Corp and to finance and insure News Corp activities including billion dollar motion picture projects like Avatar and capitalizing mergers and expansions.

USUncut is mounting a campaign to expose this sort of corporate welfare. They should add News Corp/Fox News to their list. But why aren’t there more voices objecting to these handouts? Why aren’t Democrats in Congress drafting legislation to prohibit bailout and stimulus funds from being used to enrich partisan political operations like Fox News by funneling cash into their accounts disguised as advertising expenditures. Every time you see a commercial on the Fox News Channel for a Chevy Tahoe or a Citibank Visa you are watching your tax dollars flow into the pockets of Rupert Murdoch and his wealthy associates.

The right wants to defund NPR despite the fact that they have utterly failed to demonstrate any journalistic bias on the part of NPR. On the other hand, Fox News has been documented to be brazenly one-sided over and over again, yet they receive hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer financed subsidies. Well, no more.

Stand Up! Fight Back! It is time to end the federal funding of Fox News NOW!

[Update 3/28/11:] And finally there is some media attention on the fact that there are many U.S. corporations brazenly shortchanging the country. MSNBC via Daily Beast.

Irony Alert: Greta Van Susteren Questions Juan Williams’ Credibility

In a recent appearance on Fox News, Juan Williams made an observation that most thinking people would regard as objectively true when he said that Sarah Palin “can’t stand on the intellectual stage with Obama.” Even most Republicans don’t think Palin has the qualifications to be president, and many are simply embarrassed by her frequent incoherent Facebookings and Tweets.

But Palin’s Fox News colleague, Greta Van Susteren, is not amongst them. In response to Williams’ comment Van Susteren took to her blog to question Williams’ journalistic credibility and to ask whether he had ever interviewed the Tea Hag, implying that if he had not his opinion is irrelevant. Says Van Susteren:

“Knowing the source of a journalist’s information helps you judge whether it is good information or just yak. […] Knowing if he interviewed (first hand knowledge) either and to what depth can help guide you as to whether you should credit his opinion or not.”

Really? Then it should be noted that Van Susteren is a personal friend of Palin and that her husband has been an advisor on Palin’s staff for years. This is something that Van Susteren fails to disclose when she defends Palin, as she often does.

What’s more, if Van Susteren is going to make the absurd contention that no one can have an opinion of a public figure without having first interviewed them, would she apply that standard to herself? Would she apply it to Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly, and everyone else on Fox News, or in all of the media? (This would put a lot of pundits out of work which, come to think of it, may not be such a bad idea). Or does it only apply to people with whom she disagrees when they are critical of her friends and her husband’s clients? For Van Susteren to pass judgment on Williams in this manner says more about her own lack of journalistic standards than it does of his.

However, both Williams and Van Susteren may have bigger problems. They are both in violation of their boss’s edict to refrain from criticizing fellow Fox Newsers. Williams attacked Palin whereupon Van Susteren attacked Williams. On a prior occasion when Fox insiders were complaining publicly about Glenn Beck, Roger Ailes said

“Yeah, shut up. You’re getting a paycheck. Go on the team or get off the team. Don’t run around here badmouthing a colleague.”

You think Ailes will be having a talk with these two malcontents?

Juan Williams Postscript: Fox News Keeps Fear Alive

A number of interesting developments have transpired since Juan Williams blurted out his repugnant feelings on the O’Reilly Factor.

First, Williams was rewarded for his bigotry by Fox News who signed him to a new $2 million contract. That is, in effect, an affirmation of intolerance and a continuation of Fox’s familiar brand of bigotry. Keep hate alive, Fox.

Second, the conversation has completely switched to NPR’s decision to fire Williams, from the more relevant discussion of his prejudice and anxiety at the sight of peaceful Muslims in an airport. The conduct of NPR’s Human Resources department is far less important than the open hostility expressed by Williams. Of course, Fox would rather talk about a fake controversy than actual hate speech.

And third, Mara Liasson continues to appear on Fox News, even as they bash her primary employer (NPR) and seek to destroy it by advocating its defunding. How can Liasson appear on Fox News while they are actively trying to harm NPR? It’s kind of like Pau Gasol switching jerseys and playing for the Celtics when the Lakers have him on the bench. How can NPR permit Liasson to appear on a network that has initiated a campaign to smear them and to take them off the air?

Conversely, do you think that Fox would continue to employ Liasson if she went on NPR and told people that Fox is not a news network (which would be the truth) and that they should not watch Fox or patronize its advertisers? Roger Ailes would fire her before she finished the sentence. If Liasson had any loyalty or integrity she would voluntarily cease to work for Fox until they repudiated the smear campaign against NPR. Either that or quit NPR and stop pretending that she is a neutral, unbiased reporter.

From Media Matters: FOX Keeps Fear Alive. Restore Sanity, Drop FOX.

Each day, Fox News “keeps fear alive” with a steady stream of false and misleading attacks on President Obama, progressive members of Congress, and policy initiatives such as reforming health care, fixing the economy, and fighting global warming. Fox News is not a news organization, it is a right-wing political operation.

And that is why you should join the fight to “restore sanity.” Click the link above to sign the petition to hold Fox News accountable.

What If Juan Williams Had Said…

The story du jour throughout the mediasphere is the firing of Juan Williams by NPR for saying that seeing Muslims in the airport makes him “nervous.” The reaction from conservatives, who obviously feel the same way, was instantaneous and brutal. There have been kneejerk calls to defund NPR along with the usual rightist mantra about the “liberal” media.

The problem is that the language used by Williams was not harmless unless you regard Muslims as uniquely deserving of contempt. The question that has to be asked is: What would the response be if a white commentator said that seeing an African American walking down the sidewalk would make them want to cross the street?

Williams may not be a bigot, but what he said was unmistakably bigoted. He defended himself today in an op-ed on Fox News online by saying that he had been “fired for telling the truth.”

“Yesterday NPR fired me for telling the truth. The truth is that I worry when I am getting on an airplane and see people dressed in garb that identifies them first and foremost as Muslims.”

First of all, wearing Muslim garb doesn’t identify anyone as first and foremost anything, no more than wearing a baseball cap identifies someone as first and foremost a sports fan. Isn’t it possible to wear Muslim garb and be first and foremost a neurosurgeon? Or for that matter, first and foremost an American? But the larger problem is that Williams’ excuse suggests that it would be acceptable for Greta Van Susteren to say that seeing Mexicans in the supermarket makes her want to clutch her purse tighter, if that’s what she regards as the truth?

It is not true that people in Muslim garb cause nervousness, only that they make Williams nervous. I don’t have a problem with it. It isn’t enough to assert that a certain segment of society has prejudices and, therefore, when you express those ideas you are simply articulating something that is true for that bigoted segment of society and you’re off the hook.

For its part, NPR explained their action by saying that Williams had “undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.” They further asserted that his dismissal was not due solely to this incident, but that he had violated the ethical standards of NPR on numerous occasions and had been counseled many times in the past. However, we can expect those facts to be ignored as the right-wing hypocrites defend Williams and castigate NPR. Where were these stalwart defenders of free speech when Rick Sanchez was terminated by CNN for making similarly inappropriate comments? The same people hoisting Williams on their shoulders had laughed at Sanchez and cheered his misfortune. Ditto Helen Thomas. Ditto David Shuster.

It’s ironic that this affair, which will ignite conservatives’ accusations that public broadcasting is hopelessly liberal, is breaking now, just a few days after a report that shows how conservatively slanted PBS is.

This isn’t really hard, people. If you do not want to be punished for being a bigot, stop being a fucking bigot. Because if you don’t stop it is going to affect your career. Unless, of course, you work for Fox News (see Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly, etc.)

And lest anyone try to frame this as a free speech issue, please note that Williams still has all of his civil rights. In fact, Fox News just made him a full time employee and gave him a big raise. If anyone has a right to complain about suppression…well….when was the last time you saw a network pundit in Muslim garb?

[Addendum:] The frantic calls to defund NPR have materialized, including an announcement that Sen. Jim DeMint (SD-Tea Party) will introduce legislation tomorrow to do so. But DeMint’s bill may be difficult to implement because there are no direct federal funds to NPR for DeMint to take away.

Also, on Fox News today, anchor Jon Scott defended Williams by explaining that his feelings were perfectly understandable because, “the terrorists wanted to scare us and they have achieved their aim.” That’s comforting.

But it was Bill O’Reilly who managed to put it all into perspective by asserting that…

“Juan Williams wasn’t giving his opinion of Muslims on airplanes. He was simply stating what he felt.”

See? Two completely different things. Thank God O’Reilly cleared that up. And leave it to O’Reilly to sum up his defense of hate by inviting violence with this this talking point: “NPR puts itself in the kill zone.” Hear that dog whistle, Tea Party Militia?

NPR Asks Mara Liasson To Reconsider Fox News

Now that it has been established that Fox News is not a legitimate news network, the question arises as to whether reporters from other news enterprises who appear on Fox are merely pawns in Fox’s game of alleged balance. I have long argued that such appearances serve no purpose other than to validate Fox’s brand of propaganda. Lately, there have been others who share that view, as illustrated in this article at Politico:

According to a source, [NPR’s Mara] Liasson was summoned in early October by NPR’s executive editor for news, Dick Meyer, and the networks supervising senior Washington editor, Ron Elving. The NPR executives said they had concerns that Fox’s programming had grown more partisan, and they asked Liasson to spend 30 days watching the network.

At a follow-up meeting last month, Liasson reported that she’d seen no significant change in Fox’s programming and planned to continue appearing on the network, the source said.

Liasson’s assertion that she doesn’t see any significant change in Fox’s programming is a bit of a dodge. It could easily be argued that Fox’s programming has not changed – it has always been partisan, dishonest, and factually challenged. In which case, she should never have agreed to appear on the network in the first place. However, Fox’s rightist slant has become noticeably steeper. So much so that it has even been noticed by people associated with Fox.

Just in the past couple of months, longtime Fox News contributor Jane Hall left the network citing the extremism of Glenn Beck as part of her reason. Also, former Fox anchor Eric Burns emerged to declare that he is grateful that he no longer has to “face the ethical problem of sharing an employer with Glenn Beck.”

While Fox News has indeed been solidly right-wing since its inception, recent changes have cemented their already hard-core partisanship. They hired Mike Huckabee and Glenn Beck. They parted ways with Alan Colmes. In fact every recent announcement from their editorial management took them farther to the right.

If Liasson can’t see this and admit that her ties with Fox are damaging her reputation and that of NPR, then perhaps her NPR handlers should take it upon themselves to cut ties with her. They previously had a similar situation with Juan Williams, an NPR contributor who also appears on Fox and sometimes fills in for Bill O’Reilly. Williams was ordered to stop identifying himself as an NPR reporter when he appeared on Fox’s opinion programs (which is most of them). NPR could go no further than that as Williams is not a full time employee.

As for Liasson, her blindness ought to yield some sort of consequences. NPR is not commenting, but Fox took the opportunity to demonstrate what a bunch of sanctimonious jerks they are by releasing this statement:

“With the ratings we have, NPR should be paying us to even be mentioned on our air.”

Any journalist who works with Fox News must be held accountable for that decision. It should follow them throughout their career and tag them as the disreputable hacks that they are. They should be regarded professionally as being in the same category as reporters from the National Enquirer. If Liasson wants the attention she gets from the Fox family, she will have to live with the scorn she receives from everyone else.