News Story

"Censorship is a Bad Business Model" for NPR

New media panel discusses the Juan Williams firing

The firing of journalist Juan Williams by National Public Radio for his comments about being "worried" and "nervous" seeing people in Muslim garb while flying  is something that impacts all Americans, said Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund.

Fund appeared Thursday on a panel of experts talking about the new media that was put on by the and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.  The other panelists included WJR radio host Frank Beckmann, Detroit News cartoonist and The Michigan View editor Henry Payne, and the Mackinac Center's Kathy Hoekstra and Ken Braun, managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential.

If the liberal, politically-correct movement could destroy Williams' career, "they can destroy any of us for politically incorrect statements," Fund said.

Fund said the liberal movement could redefine the definition for politically incorrect into something out of George Orwell's book 1984.

"We have to take a stand here, and now and now we have instruments of the new media to fight back for common sense decency and realize that Juan Williams' fight is our fight as well," he said.

NPR reported that it fired Williams for comments made on The O'Reilly Factor last week.

"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," Williams told O'Reilly.

Fox has hired Williams for an expanded role.

 "It goes beyond Juan," said Fund, who started his career at NPR and called himself a friend of Williams. "It goes to the issue of a free press and whether or not we are going to stifle and suppress speech in this country."

"Fears don't have to be rational, but they can be understandable. And we have to discuss them. Censoring them or ignoring them is not conducive to the health of the community," Fund said. "Juan Williams is politically incorrect. He is a liberal, but he is a liberal who thinks for himself. And NPR hated it... and they looked for any possible reason to try to fire him. Now, they finally found it."

Fund told the audience, "We should not let this go unnoticed."

He said he would never contribute another dime to NPR and told audience members to do the same.

"We should raise a fuss.," Fund said.

Frank Beckmann also joined in with his comments on Williams.

"If you allow this kind of tyranny to exist within the media, especially with a government funded form of media like NPR, then we are truly in danger," Beckmann said. "That in essence is government suppressing the speech."

Censorship is a bad business model, said Payne.

"NPR is going to pay for what it just did to Juan Williams," Payne said. "Because Juan Williams is going to go to Fox and NPR is going to lose a good journalist."