By Elizabeth Tenety
The Washington Post’s Debbi Wilgoren and Paul Farhi reported Thursday:
Veteran journalist Juan Williams was fired from his job as senior news analyst for National Public Radio late Wednesday because of comments he made about Muslims and terrorism on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News Channel.
“Political correctness can lead to a kind of paralysis where you don’t address reality,” Williams said on O’Reilly’s show.
As Wilgoren and Farhi reported:
Williams, 56, made the remarks after the show’s host, Bill O’Reilly, asked him whether he thought the United States was facing a “Muslim dilemma.” “The cold truth is that in the world today, jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet,” O’Reilly said.
“I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country,” he said. “But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they’re identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”
(For more on “flying while Muslim,” read Amy Gardner’s 2009 story on an incident at Reagan National Airport.)
NPR said in a statement that WIlliams’ comments “were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.”
The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg noted that Williams’ swift firing is only the latest in a recent string of journalists getting the boot over their controversial remarks about religion.
“There’s a larger trend here, the increasing tempo of journalist firings around the issues of Islam, terrorism,and Israel. There is Helen Thomas, of course, as well as Octavia Nasr, who was fired by CNN for praising the radical Shi’a Ayatollah Fadlallah. Helen Thomas is a ridiculous figure, and her comments touched on the Shoah, so I think my position on her firing remains, good riddance, but Nasr’s firing seemed unjustified to me, and Williams’s removal, so far at least, seems unjustified as well.”
Rick Sanchez was also recently fired from CNN for comments he made about Jews:
“I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart. And to imply that somehow they — the people in this country who are Jewish — are an oppressed minority? Yeah.”
UPDATE: 12:37 p.m.: In the video below, Williams explains that his comments on O’Reilly were an “honest” description of his fears. Williams says that an NPR news director told him those views are “bigoted” and “cross the line.”
Do you see these firings as part of a larger trend?
Read more On Faith:
Akbar Ahmed: A Muslim response to Juan Williams