October 22, 2010
Juan Williams, Welcome to ImusvilleBy C. Edmund Wright
Welcome, Juan Williams. You are the latest citizen of Imusville. And by Imusville, I mean a place where people who make their living talking end up when their buddies on the left forget the First Amendment and sacrifice them on the altar of political correctness.
And yes, I submit that the Williams-Imus comparison is valid because at the time of his firing, Don Imus was about five years into an exploration of his inner liberal.
More on that later.
As you might remember, Imus was canned for an impolitic bit on his show about Rutgers women basketball players being "nappy-headed hos." Thus, he was canned by MSNBC and the CBS Radio network, both of whom were carrying his show at the time. And in the prop wash of this event, Imus was defended only by those on the right -- while liberals either piled on or remained silent on the sidelines. We are still not sure if anyone in the Rutgers women's program had actually ever heard of Don Imus before the incident.
And we are witnessing the same thing in the Juan Williams NPR dust-up, with liberal NPR doubling down on the move while conservative talkers are coming out of the woodwork to support Williams. Where are Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton? Hassling white Duke lacrosse players?
Now back to Imus's "inner liberal."
What is so striking about the Imus incident is that he was squashed by the very people he had been drifting shamelessly towards politically over a period of years. He was moving a bit more leftward almost daily. It really picked up speed after he married a tree-hugging liberal -- but much younger and less wrinkled -- wife.
He may never admit it, but Don Imus had changed a lot.
It got so bad that when he was fired that his MSNBC show was replaced by "Morning Joe" -- which is more or less the same show with the same guests, just a different set and no Imus or Bernard or Charles.
The same suspects are always present -- Chris Matthews, Mike Barnicle, Evan Meacham, and so on. It is a liberal show, and Imus was no more conservative at the very end of his show than Joe Scarborough is now. That is to say, not much at all, really.
This leftward lurch had cost Imus almost half of his audience, and his sucking up to the David Gregories of the world and bashing of conservatives was unnerving and unnatural for a guy whose reputation had been built on a shock-jock sort of hardcore, commonsense, self-reliant curmudgeonly conservatism.
Thus, it was unseemly when he would openly fawn over not only Gregory, but Gerald Nadler, Howard Fineman, Brian Williams, Matthews, Mike Barnicle, and any other number of hardcore liberals. He nearly groveled at the feet of Dan Rather.
Oh sure, he would still throw an elbow at some "bed-wetter" from time to time, but he had clearly moved way left. Not only that, but he did it in such a predictable, clichéd way. He joined the Bush-bashers and was merciless on Dick Cheney, among others. He was carrying the water of the NBC brand, not to mention his annoyingly liberal greenie new wife. It was obvious.
All of which made it deliciously ironic that none of his new liberal buddies uttered a peep when he was fired. I say delicious because many conservatives felt sold down the river by Imus. And they were.
And only folks he had started to make fun of in the last few years of his MSNBC gig -- Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and the like -- were there to support him. David Gregory did not return the fawning.
Of course, none of this changed the fact that Imus has a talent and that he and Bernard and Charles have impeccable radio timing -- so they are back together and back on the air now, at the Fox Business Network. And amazingly, they have all discovered -- or rediscovered -- their inner conservative. How delightfully flexible.
So what will happen to Juan Williams?
The big irony here is that Juan Williams has dedicated his life to supporting liberal causes -- often at the expense of being totally humiliated by Brit Hume and Charles Krauthammer on a regular basis for years -- and yet is being thrown under the bus by the very establishment mindset he has so supported.
Williams carries the scars of battle -- those many rapier-like "now wait a minute Juan" moments he had to tolerate from Hume -- just before having his blather dissected and discarded by the senior Fox anchor for all to see. Williams faithfully carried the liberal torch in an environment that would have destroyed the Matthewses and Barnicles and Meachams of the world. (Can you imagine Olbermann trying to debate Hume?)
And he gets canned very publicly for saying something we all believe -- that we are a bit nervous when we see men in obviously Muslim dress on our airplane flights. I know I sure as hell am. On my last flight, there was a dead ringer for Zaccharius Massoui. I mean twin material! And he was scowling and acting nervous -- and flying alone. And we were depending on Jamaican security! I was literally in a cold sweat. (There goes my NPR career.)
Let's face it: Juan Williams is utterly clueless when it comes to understanding business and the free market system. This does not distinguish him in any manner from most folks in his business. He is hopelessly encumbered in thought by the latest Washington Post Poll, and he is still enamored of our first black president and its historicalness. Again, he has much company in those camps.
I wonder if he will be shocked by this naked unveiling of his precious liberal buddies as nothing but a bunch of hateful thought-policing elitists. I can only wonder what is going through his head at this moment. From time to time, Williams could be moved off his liberal dogma by reality. Is he now perhaps rethinking other aspects of his politics?
In fact, in his appearance on "The O'Reilly Factor" that cost him his NPR job, he said that sometimes "political correctness prevents us from seeing reality."
How ironic. How prophetic. How true. So, Juan, have you seen reality yet?