National Public Radio is behaving as if it has a death wish, acting in ways that imperil its welfare. In this, it reflects a syndrome affecting the broader American left as the dream of shifting America permanently to the left crumbles in the face of a looming electoral rejection.
As details of the situation gradually come to light, NPR's decision looks worse and worse. Yesterday on Fox News, it was revealed the Williams' contract with NPR was due to expire within the calendar year, so that the organization could have let him go with no fuss, merely by failing to renew it. Instead, the organization chose to humiliate a ten year employee by firing him on the phone with a call from an underling (who told Williams the decision was made higher-up), first releasing news to the public via Twitter, and then, in the most ham-handed way possible, impugning Williams' sanity in remarks by the organization's president to a group in Atlanta, caught on video.
This chronicle of insults suggests an organizational temper tantrum, animated by a spirit of vengeance. The contrast with the anodyne tone adopted by male NPR on air personalities could not be more dramatic. When an organization which presents a facade of detachment and coolness acts in such a savage manner, it suggests phoniness rules at NPR, and makes them look very bad, especially in comparison to the response elsewhere. AT contributor Jim Yardley comments:
What makes the entire affair somewhat amusing is the reaction of NPR versus FOX. NPR, the vocal cords of the left, fired Mr. Williams. The left, who continuously accuse conservatives of having the basest motives, being the current embodiment of Ebenezer Scrooge, of not caring at all for those less fortunate, fired a man for having the audacity to be human. FOX, the bête noire of liberals and progressives, immediately offered Mr. Williams a job. Not exactly an unfeeling response for a group characterized as red necked Neanderthals.
So what could have caused NPR to go off the deep end?
One has to assume that because it took 36 hours for NPR to react, there was considerable internal wrangling over what to do. It is highly likely that protests from Muslim groups like CAIR were part of the equation, and because NPR has long taken an antagonist stance toward Israel, an underlying pro-Muslim bias may be part of the organization's collective DNA. But this alone would not account for the vindictiveness of the treatment of a longtime employee.
There almost has to be a sense of betrayal at work, a collective feeling that those like Williams who leave the liberal plantation and consort with Fox News are traitors, disloyal to their presumed racially-dictated liberalism. NPR is behaving like a spurned lover.
Unless Congressional hearings are called, we may never know what role the 1.8 million dollar grant from George Soros's Open Society Institute played in the firing. Did the prospect of succor from the sugar daddy of the American left emotionally reinforce the anger toward the perceived defector?
We may actually get those hearings if, as expected, Republicans gain a majority in the House of Representatives. NPR claims that only 1 to 3 percent of its funding comes from the federal government, but that is a fiction, a "shell game" in Bill O'Reilly's term, because federal (and state and local) government funds go to affiliate stations, which then send money to NPR in Washington (this is called a "cut out" in mob terms). Fueled by voter concern over federal deficits, a Republican-controlled House conceivably could zero out all federal support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which doles out money to both television and radio broadcasters, and force them to live in the marketplace, just like Fox news, Rush Limbaugh, and now, Juan Williams.
See also: A wider door opens for Juan Williams
Juan Williams, Welcome To Imusville