Juan Williams fired – how about NPR ‘news analysts’ – Ted Koppel and Cokie Roberts

News analysts at NPR – we are told – are held at a different ethical standard because they are news analysts and not commentators. I’m not sure what the difference between a news analyst, reporter or a correspondent is, but I think I know a commentator when I see one.

Juan Williams definitely expressed his opinion on Fox News. I’m not so sure if he expressed his opinion on NPR, since it seems, all of his stuff has been wiped off the site.

Update: Head over to Hot Air where AP notes Williams just picked up a three year, $2 million exclusive deal with Fox News. (So don’t bother asking NPR to take him back.) Also go read Williams’ first piece at FoxNews.com with some interesting information about NPR leadership getting all ticked off because President George W. Bush offered a NPR radio interview exclusive with Williams, and did not go through proper channels at NPR or offer the interview to other hosts. Williams also uses the phrase “the self-righteous ideological, left-wing leadership at NPR.” BAWAHHHH! Onward readers…

I’m not exactly certain where this post will lead, so bear with me. There are currently three news analysts listed on the NPR website. They would be Ted Koppel, Cokie Roberts and Daniel Schorr. (Schorr passed away this July.) Let’s look at a post on the NPR site from Koppel from May 11, 2009.

The Torture Debate Is Not Yet Over
We thought we had one. President George W. Bush stated it with admirable clarity during a visit to Panama in 2005. “We do not torture,” he said. But that turned out to be untrue.

A series of revelations about U.S. prisoners being subjected to sleep deprivation, extreme heat and cold, loud music, stress positions, wall-slamming, enclosure in small, dark boxes (with or without the company of insects) and, of course, waterboarding, were euphemistically sanitized under the catchall category of “enhanced interrogation techniques.” (How many angels can writhe on the head of a pin?) …

Ahh yes … NPR news analyst Ted Koppel expressing an opinion concerning a controversial issue (on the NPR website) that I do not agree with. There is a difference between torture and enhanced interrogation techniques and instead of just writing the story, he said – commented – that President Bush lied because, in Koppel’s opinion, enhanced interrogation techniques equals torture. Certainly not a we report, you decide moment in NPR history.

Koppel also works for the Washington Post as an opinion writer. On Sept. 12, one day after the ninth anniversary of 9/11, he writes

[O]ver the past nine years, the United States has blundered into the 9/11 snare with one overreaction after another. Bin Laden deserves to be the object of our hostility, national anguish and contempt, and he deserves to be taken seriously as a canny tactician. But much of what he has achieved we have done, and continue to do, to ourselves. Bin Laden does not deserve that we, even inadvertently, fulfill so many of his unimagined dreams. …

We have raced to Afghanistan and Iraq, and more recently to Yemen and Somalia; we have created a swollen national security apparatus; and we are so absorbed in our own fury and so oblivious to our enemy’s intentions that we inflate the building of an Islamic center in Lower Manhattan into a national debate and watch, helpless, while a minister in Florida outrages even our friends in the Islamic world by threatening to burn copies of the Koran.

In the above case, it does not matter if you agree with or disagree with Koppel. He’s expressing his opinion in an OpEd piece not associated with NPR and he’s an NPR news analyst.

If I must, I’ll continue with a Cokie Roberts, a contributing senior news analyst at NPR. Earlier in March this year, she referred to Glenn Beck as a terrorist and traitor and suggested advertisers stop supporting his radio and TV show. I don’t listen or watch Beck, but from what I understand, few are taking Roberts’ suggestion.

We are not denying Beck or anyone else their First Amendment rights. He can say anything he wants. But advertisers don’t have to support his brand of hate mongering, and audiences don’t have to take Fox News seriously if one of its top names has become a “circus clown.”

Actually, Beck is worse than a clown. He’s more like a terrorist who believes he has discovered the One True Faith, and condemns everyone else as a heretic. And that makes him something else as well — a traitor to the American values he professes so loudly to defend.

Roberts also gets up in front of women’s groups, gets them all worked up and lets them know women are better then men.

I’m going to express my opinion here and make note that Ted Koppel and Cokie Roberts are not Fox News contributors, but do work for news organizations that – in my opinion and many others – tilt to the left.

So, will the NPR news analysts not associated with Fox News be handled the same way Juan Williams has been? Has management at NPR had a sit-down discussion about how Koppel and Roberts frequently editorialize and comment in other venues to the point where [the] conservative NPR reader[s] and listener[s] undermine their credibility as a news analyst with NPR?

Late Wednesday night, NPR issued a statement praising Williams as a valuable contributor but saying it had given him notice that it is severing his contract. “His remarks on The O’Reilly Factorthis past Monday were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR,” the statement read.

Williams’ presence on the largely conservative and often contentious prime-time talk shows of Fox News has long been a sore point with NPR News executives.

His status was earlier shifted from staff correspondent to analyst after he took clear-cut positions about public policy on television and in newspaper opinion pieces.

This post from NPR ombudsman Alicia C. Shepard back in February 2009 enforces NPR had an issue with Williams’ relationship with Fox News.

Williams is controversial among NPR listeners because of his long-standing contract with Fox News, which he had before he joined NPR. Currently, he appears on Fox sometimes with Bill O’Reilly and on Sunday morning with Chris Wallace.

On TV, Fox identifies Williams as “NPR News Political Analyst.” (Conversely, NPR rarely identifies him as Fox News contributor.)

Last year, 378 listeners emailed me complaints and frustrations about things Williams said on Fox. The listener themes are similar: Williams “dishonors NPR.” He’s an “embarrassment to NPR.” “NPR should sever their relationship with him.”

Again, I’d suggest Koppel and Roberts are just as controversial and quite the “lightning rod” for conservatives, but since conservatives are not exactly a big part of the NPR listener base…

3 replies
  1. Plainvillian
    Plainvillian says:

    Let's see, Koppel is white, Roberts is white, Williams is uh ….. never mind, NPR couldn't be….never mind.

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