Juan Williams’ firing by NPR this week looks like it’ll be more than the typical, three-day Washington story. NPR terminated Williams as a “news analyst” after his remarks on Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor” — basically, that seeing people dressed in Muslim garb during air travel caused him momentary anxiety and fear, given the realities of 9-11. Williams and millions of Americans. That was too much honesty for the higher-ups at NPR, who bravely cashiered Williams, a 10-year veteran, over the phone. There’s been lots of speculation that NPR long has wanted to be rid of Williams because he’s also a regular contributor on Fox, and that there was pressure from NPR’s liberal-leaning contributors to give him the axe.
Some of the back-and-forth over Williams is interesting, some is silly — like The (London) Guardian’s Michael Tomasky, who blogs that Williams basically had it coming. No self-respecting liberal would ever appear on Fox, Tomasky writes. “Fox News wants liberalism to perish from the face of the earth,” Tomasky writes. “Going on their air on a regular basis and lending your name and reputation to their ideological razzle-dazzle is like agreeing to be the regular kulak guest columnist at Pravda in 1929. For ‘balance’.” Here’s the silly part: Several paragraphs earlier in the same post, Tomasky writes he doesn’t watch Fox. So, you might ask, how would Tomasky know anything about Fox’s “balance” or Williams’ role as a contributor? Good question.