Posts Tagged ‘Juan Williams’

Which reporters, commentators, and pundits are objective? “Nobody,” says Mika Brzezinski. “Let’s be honest.”

October 22, 2010

 

In the search for diverse opinions on television I like MSNBC’s Morning Joe, an entertaining roundtable of people you would enjoy having at your next dinner party. Hosts Joe Scarborough—a conservative former Congressman—and Mika Brzezinski—a liberal daughter of President Carter’s National Security advisor—are politically balanced while being friendly and civil. Their guests span the political spectrum, and the conversations are usually spirited. Nobody on the show claims to be objective, they just bounce their opinions off each other. Fun and informative.

Today, in the wake of NPR’s firing of Juan Williams, there was some discussion of objectivity in the media. Mika had a proposal that would improve the credibility of reporters and commentators of all stripes:

“I would argue that nobody is objective in journalism: that we all come from our own world views and our own backgrounds and our own political affiliations, and we’ve voted for Presidents, and you know what! It’s time to be honest [about it}—and then we can be trusted.

Honesty: What a concept!

 

Advertisements

NPR fires Juan Williams for anti-Muslim comments: intolerance, political correctness, or a stand against bigotry?

October 21, 2010

 

“Juan Williams, Martyr to Tolerance.” That’s the title of a provocative Ethics Alarms piece by Jack Marshall. Juan Williams was fired by NPR for saying this on to Bill O’Reilly on Fox News:

“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. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

Marshall excoriates NPR’s action as the intolerable “intolerance of the self-righteous heralds of toleration.”

I’m conflicted over this one. I don’t think Juan Williams should have been fired, but I find his statement very unfair, and somewhere between ignorant and bigoted.

Ignorant, because Muslims wear all kinds of garb, including the sporty American look that the 9/11 hijackers apparently tried to present. Bigoted, because it’s bigotry to assign stereotypical characteristics to individuals, whether to assume that Jews are money-grubbing, that Irish are drunks, that black men are sex-crazed, or that evangelical Christians are gay-bashers.

For Americans in 2010 it’s particularly hurtful to stereotype Muslims as terrorists, as many on the political right are now doing. A scary portion of the population is buying into the idea of Muslims as “other.” It’s horribly unfair to people who are (more…)