Thursday, October 21, 2010
NPR's Double Standard
Juan Williams bad, Daniel Schorr good.
SWARTHMORONS.1-6. I'm not surprised Juan Williams got fired by NPR. I've been expecting it. I know Mara Liasson was threatened some months ago because of her Fox connection. And Juan has been courting a smackdown for months now with his frequent appearances on Hannity and the O'Reilly Factor, where he seems less doctrinaire than he is on Special Report. I imagine Fox will take care of him, perhaps with a show of his own. I'd have let it go at that except for an emerging meme best exemplified by Bernie Goldberg's column on the matter, "Juan Williams, NPR and the Death of Liberalism."
Here's a bulletin, NPR: Lots and lots and lots of Americans feel the same way as Juan Williams. And that includes lots and lots of liberals. And probably a lot of liberals who work at NPR. Juan's "crime" wasn't that he said something bigoted. His crime is that he said something that liberals find politically incorrect. And that he said it out loud. And worst of all, that he said it on the Fox News Channel.
In liberal circles this is nothing less than a crime against humanity!
What makes this so crazy -- and so sad -- is that liberals are the open-minded ones, the ones who cherish the free exchange of ideas, the smart ones. And if you don't believe me, just ask any liberal, who will be glad to tell you how smart and open-minded he or she is. But these are the kind of people who believe in "free speech" only as long as they agree with you.
My problem? Goldberg acts as if this is some startling new milestone in the long decline of American liberalism. It isn't. I understand that he wants to perpetuate the myth that there was some kind of Golden Age of news reporting in which liberal journalists were objective and fair-minded despite their political views. But he's wrong about that. What's new is the Internet and the bright glare of attention liberal corruption now attracts. The biases, hidden agendas, and distorting reportage have always been there. Liberals have never been tolerant, open-minded, or fair. To this day, the New York Times has never returned or repudiated the Pulitzer Prize awarded to William Duranty for covering up the worst of Stalin's crimes in a deliberate attempt to promote Soviet communism in his homeland.
NPR's hands aren't clean either. Confounding many of my friends, I listened to NPR at intervals for years, just to remain aware of what story the liberals were telling themselves and their constituencies. The absolute hardest thing to stomach was the daily monologue of Daniel Schorr, introduced reverentially by NPR hosts. He was from the era Goldberg would like us to believe was professional, principled, and competent. He died this summer, and here's one of the final paragraphs of his official bio:
In 1996, Schorr received the Columbia University Golden Baton for "Exceptional Contributions to Radio and Television Reporting and Commentary." An award that is considered the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. Schorr has also been inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Society of Professional Journalists and in 2002, Schorr was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The Golden Baton! Wow. If I'd known that, maybe I wouldn't have had to grit my teeth whenever I heard that old-time CBS voice -- that smug, condescending, know-it-all world weariness of the lone intelligent man in the room, now that Eric Severaid was pushing up daisies. Or maybe not. Here's an item from his resume NPR's 'editorial standards' might have taken more note of than they did. It dates to 1964, when the liberal media and intelligentisia did everything they could think of to destroy Barry Goldwater:
In response to a questionnaire from a magazine, 1,189 psychiatrists, none of whom had ever met Goldwater, declared him unfit for office — “emotionally unstable,” “immature,” “cowardly,” “grossly psychotic,” “paranoid,” “chronic schizophrenic” and “dangerous lunatic” were some judgments from the psychiatrists who believed that extremism in pursuit of Goldwater was no vice. Shortly before the election, Columbia University historian Richard Hofstadter published in Harper's an essay (later expanded into a book with the same title), “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” that encouraged the idea that Goldwater's kind of conservatism was a mental disorder.
On the eve of the convention that nominated Goldwater, Daniel Schorr of CBS, “reporting” from Germany, said: “It looks as though Senator Goldwater, if nominated, will be starting his campaign here in Bavaria, center of Germany's right wing” and “Hitler's one-time stomping ground.” Goldwater, said Schorr, would be vacationing near Hitler's villa at Berchtesgaden. Schorr further noted that Goldwater had given an interview to Der Spiegel “appealing to right-wing elements in Germany” and had agreed to speak to a gathering of “right-wing Germans.” So, “there are signs that the American and German right wings are joining up.”
But as Andrew Ferguson of the Weekly Standard has reported, although Goldwater had spoken vaguely about a European vacation (he did not take one), he had not mentioned Germany, and there were no plans to address any German group.
Goldberg's Tiffany news network would never have put up with that, would they? From the same bio that lists all of Schorr's awards:
In 1964 Schorr was nearly sacked after reporting that Barry Goldwater was linked with a group of German right-wing military men.
Nearly sacked. Awww. But it didn't stop him from receiving the Golden Baton. Or a sinecure as resident god of journalism on NPR for years and years and years.
This is an old old game that has just selected Juan Williams as victim. It looks like African-American contributors at NPR have just been cut in half. Liberals are what they've always been. Totalitarians who continue to envy the Soviet model of press freedom: Infinite freedom to spout the party line, and no freedom to disagree with what is clearly correct.
I wish Juan Williams well. I hope this is a learning experience for him. His most upstanding defenders at this moment are conservatives who disagree with almost everything he says and believes about politics. What does that tell you? Or him?