Media Critic Kurtz Backs Criticism of NPR

Friday, 22 Oct 2010 12:43 PM

By Dan Weil

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NPR’s decision to fire correspondent Juan Williams for comments he made about Muslims continues to draw strong condemnation from across the political spectrum. Media critic Howard Kurtz, a moderate’s moderate, writes on The Daily Beast website that conservatives are quite right to bash NPR over the dismissal.

“After watching Bill O’Reilly lead an hour of NPR-bashing on Fox Kurtz, NPR, Williams, Soros, O’ReillyNews Thursday night, it’s tempting to say that the right’s reaction to the Juan Williams firing is just a tad overblown,” writes Kurtz.

“But it’s not. This was a blunder of enormous proportions. Even many liberals — Donna Brazile, Joan Walsh, Whoopi Goldberg — are castigating National Public Radio for throwing Williams overboard.”

NPR canned its correspondent for saying on Fox that when he gets on a plane with passengers who make clear they are Muslims, “I get worried. I get nervous." He also said it’s unfair to classify all Muslims as extremists.

NPR made its move without even discussing it with Williams, he says.

“His firing has backfired, handing Fox a victory and making Williams a symbol of liberal intolerance — on the very day NPR announced a grant from George Soros that it never should have accepted,” Kurtz writes.

The hedge fund legend Soros, a major Democratic donor, is giving NPR $1.8 million.

“NPR Chief Executive Vivian Schiller — dubbed a “pinhead” by O’Reilly — made matters worse by suggesting that Williams needs psychiatric attention. She later apologized,” Kurtz says.

As for the conservative criticism, “NPR has discredited itself as a forum for free speech and a protection of the First Amendment rights of all and has solidified itself as a purveyor of politically correct pabulum and protector of views that lean left,” ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said in a statement.

Sarah Palin took to Twitter to rip the network. “Juan Williams: u got taste of Left’s hypocrisy, they screwed up firing you,” she wrote.

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