NPR reveals itself

And its a picture of entrenched ‘liberalism’ and intolerance. Reaction has been swift to their firing of Juan Williams, and there will be more consequences.

We have to brace ourselves when these kinds of stories break, especially out of nowhere. They’re followed by an onslaught. This one brings to light some very important aspects of modern major media and academia and the ‘intelligensia’. They aren’t all that enlightened, they’re very insular, and rather radically inclined, at all costs. Most of all, National Public Radio has revealed how out of touch they are with the nation.

Some prominent Muslims expressed concern Thursday that his firing would widen a gulf between Muslims and non-Muslims in the United States.

“The greater American public remains unsure about Islam and very often hostile about Islam,” said Akbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic Studies at American University…

He’s the same one who prompted this blurb on NRO’s media blog.

Now this is interesting, Power Line blog on political expert Michael Barone:

“Reading between the lines of Juan’s statement and those of NPR officials, it’s apparent that NPR was moved to fire Juan because he irritates so many people in its audience. An interesting contrast: many NPR listeners apparently could not stomach that Williams also appeared on Fox News. But it doesn’t seem that any perceptible number of Fox News viewers had any complaints that Williams also worked for NPR. The Fox audience seems to be more tolerant of diversity than the NPR audience.”

To which Power Line’s John Hinderaker follows up…

That is very true. Conservatives don’t try to silence their opponents, they just want to argue with them so that good public policy can emerge from the debate. Liberals–not every single one, but an alarming percentage–are infected by a totalitarian impulse to silence all who don’t toe their line.

Seeing Juan Williams’ reaction to this sudden and stunning event has been a sound teaching moment.

When you’re just not correct enough

We’re in an extremely touchy social/political climate right now. But is it really Americans in general, or big media and politicians and powerful interest groups who are generating such sensitivity to how we express ourselves?

It’s the latter. There was the blowup on The View earlier this week when Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly spoke about Muslims and the cultural center/mosque planned for the neighborhood of Ground Zero. That started a round of talk show debates over how far is too far when talking about Muslims in just about any way.

NPR revealed their limits of tolerance (funny word, that)….by firing Juan Williams for his comments on the O’Reilly Factor. That was a jaw-dropper, because Williams has been politically liberal and racially sensitive throughout his career, sometimes going out of his way to criticize anyone who holds conservate views on issues like immigration, among many others.

Now he’s being accused of bigotry? That’s preposterous and offensive to the sensibilities of Americans who have already tolerated enough verbal engineering and political posturing in our media. Williams is one of the many regular Fox News contributors who presents a consistently liberal counterbalance to the conservative analysts there, which allows the network to claim the ‘Fair and Balanced’ motto.

This should come as no surprise from an outlet that continues to go through semantic gymnastics to fine tune their effort to shape public opinion. But it is.

And NPR is getting swift backlash from other members of big media for this ridiculous move. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says Congress should investigate NPR (it is public radio) and people ought to boycott the organization for this outrageous excuse to censor Williams. He also mentioned one of Williams’ remarks that wasn’t getting much attention, the court documented statement by a would-be terrorist.

Williams also commented on remarks by Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad warning Americans that the fight is coming to the U.S. 

“He said the war with Muslims, America’s war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts,” Williams said.

NPR does. Puts all their other work in perspective.

Semantic gymnastics in media

The tactic of changing style books in different print and electronic media is to change how news consumers think about what they’re hearing. I recall the first tactic was making ‘pro-life’ a pejorative. Then the style books changed and they were not to be called ‘pro-life’ anymore, but ‘anti’-something, as in ‘abortion-rights’, or ‘opponents of abortion rights’. You know, plant the negative connotation about a social movement and turn public opinion against them as a bunch of activists who want to take rights away.

It would be tempting to call it a game, but semantic engineering has changed the way we hear public debates about social issues. Control information and you control thought.

National Public Radio has taken that tactic to the next level. They’ve changed their style books again.

The folks at National Public Radio understand the power of words. Managing Editor David Sweeney announced yesterday that the station would no longer refer to people in the abortion debate as “pro-choice” and “pro-life.” Instead, the station will say “abortion rights advocates” and “abortion rights opponents,” according to a memo circulated to NPR staff.

In making this change, NPR is shifting the terms of the debate to make it more friendly to the pro-choice position.

This is a fair and reasonable article, and I like the critical thinking they apply here:

Is NPR planning on referring to advocates of gun control as “gun rights opponents”? As the Cato Institute’s David Boaz wrote earlier this month,

“In 415 NPR stories on abortion, I found only one reference to ‘abortion advocates,’ in 2005. There are far more references, hundreds more, to ‘abortion rights,’ ‘reproductive rights,’ and “women’s rights.’ And certainly abortion-rights advocates would insist that they are not ‘abortion advocates,’ they are advocates for the right of women to choose whether or not to have an abortion. NPR grants them the respect of characterizing them the way they prefer.”

I called Sweeney to ask him if NPR was going to change its terminology concerning gun rights. He did not return my call (I will post an update if he does).

NPR has chosen stilted terminology that conveys pro-choicers and pro-lifers in positive and negative lights, respectively. The station could just as easily (though perhaps with less aesthetic appeal) have labeled the two groups “pro-rights of the unborn” and “anti-rights of the unborn.”

And here’s the key, I think:

But NPR apparently does not see it that way. The station’s staff sees the issue — and now frames it on air — as a battle over women’s rights, not the rights of the unborn.

This debate will advance in greater strides when everyone can understand that it’s about both.