How now, Juan?

So what’s the story with Juan Williams, a news analyst I’ve listened to and respected for years? He talks intelligently on NPR week after week, has become a leading go-to guy on politics and race.

I don’t have television (I have a television, but it gets no reception, so it really just functions as my Netflix viewer).  So, without regular access to TV, I had no idea that Juan had a non-NPR job over at Fox news.  Apparently he’s been hanging out at Fox News Sunday and on O’Reilly, being another kind of go-to guy, one who can be counted on to say unfavorable things about black folks … how is that possible, exactly?  Or maybe the question is, how can NPR still be working with him when he’s being this other guy on Fox?

Please don’t misunderstand.  I’m not saying Juan has to be left-leaning, that he must always espouse the same views I hold.  In fact, I shouldn’t have any idea what views he holds.  He’s supposed to be impartial, objective.  I mean, isn’t he?  He’s not reading editorials on NPR.  He’s supposed to be telling me what’s going on in the world, giving me the facts and breaking them down so that I can make some informed decisions of my own.  This is what I keep talking to my students about, the objectivity of the press.  (Yes, because I live in some alternate-universe Shangri-La that looks a lot like Brooklyn.)

So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that Williams shares some of his personal views.  But I am surprised that he’s sharing such ugly views about my new First Lady.  Yes, because that’s where I’ve been headed all along, didn’t know you?  Williams would seem to have a problem with this strong, confident black woman who has landed the role of love interest in our new political drama.

Here he is on O’Reilly:

Yes, there he was.  What do you think that was about?  Is it just Juan exhaling?  He bites his tongue when he’s on NPR and then lets it all hang out on Fox?  Is it just naked ambition?  He knows he can get plenty of air time if he says things like this?  Does he just really dislike strong black women?  He’s offended that this powerful woman is getting such positive air-play?  Is he suffering from Barack-envy?  Obama not only gets to be president, but he’s got a really amazing wife, too?

NPR is sufficiently miffed by this last round of bile-spewing that they’ve asked Fox to stop referring to Williams as an NPR political analyst.  I have to say I’d be a bit happier to see Williams get the boot all together.

Oh, wait.  He’s apologized.  For what he calls a ‘faux controversy.’  Yeah, that apology sounds so very sincere.  Thanks, Juan.  I feel so much better now. Feh.

8 thoughts on “How now, Juan?

  1. molly

    “Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress”?? shame on him, really shame on him for saying that, just to sound clever and cute. In general, I find these news shows impossible to watch, like a party where each person is trying to show off in as few seconds as possible. The only thing they don’t have on-camera is martinis to swill.
    I just quickly updated myself, in Wikipedia, about Stokely Carmichael’s life. He was a fascinating historical figure, and really, REALLY different from Michelle Obama. Again, shame on Juan. I’m pretty sure that many people watching did not even catch the reference, but it was a cheap shot all the same.


  2. Oh. Oh. Oh. When Bill O’Reilly sounds like the realistic one responding to Juan’s Stokely Carmichael remark, (in his usual dismissive tone as well) “She’s not going to do that”…

    I honestly do not listen to any commentators anymore from cable. I do not enjoy smugness whether from the left or the right.

    This clip is Exhibit A. There could easily be one of equal stupidity from MSNBC.

    I never really thought Juan was all that interesting on NPR to tell you the truth. Now, he’s taken it to a new level on Fox.

    I recently saw Travis Smiley on Meet The Press and he was tamping down any Obama enthusiasm with the question, “It’s just a down payment, his election. But, who is going to be Obama’s Frederick Douglas?”

    I’m paraphrasing but essentially I believe he was nominating himself to be in the Frederick Douglas role. He went on to say Lincoln would not have been Lincoln without Frederick Douglas prodding him on. He appeared to think “his” views (Smiley) were of equal weight to the President’s and he was needed to “keep him honest” sort of thing.

    I think Tavis Smiley should start with keeping Juan Williams honest and go from there.


  3. Molly– Carmichael was an interesting and important figure, but no, not at all like Michelle Obama. Williams’ whole comment about how Mrs. Obama likes to play the blame game regarding the US is just so disgusting on so many levels. Clips like this make me so glad I don’t have regular access to TV, but also point out the problem with living in the public radio bubble!

    Pat– I hadn’t heard Tavis’ Douglass comment. Tavis gets on my nerves for a whole other set of reasons. He was so annoying during the campaign, and I guess he’s just going to keep being annoying. I don’t dislike him, exactly, but what nerve he has to hint that he could be the equal of Douglass! And, too, there is the fact that Douglass — whose friendship was very influential on Lincoln — wasn’t solely responsible for the direction Lincoln took on slavery. I like the idea of Smiley holding Williams’ feet to the fire!


  4. inmate1972

    Holy crap! I had no idea. I’ve been listening to Juan Williams on NPR since he was the host of Talk of the Nation, and I wasn’t aware he was whoring it out with Bill O’Reilly, which apparently he has been doing for quite some time.

    Again, this isn’t about differing views, this is also about professional credibility. I don’t see Fox News as real journalism, I sure as hell do not see Bill O’Reilly as any kind of journalist whatsoever. So for Williams to be hanging out at that network, with that man, really gives me pause to reconsider everything I thought about him.



  5. I also was startled to find out, recently, that Juan Williams of NPR was also Juan Williams of Fox. Very surprising. He seems here to be parroting what lots of other people said during the course of the campaign, in that charming way we have of seizing upon one or two remarks and piling on without mercy. He certainly does sound critical of her, but I can’t tell if it’s sexism, racism, right-wingism or all of the above. In any event, it doesn’t sound very original, and it does sound vitriolic.


  6. Pingback: The February Just Posts « collecting tokens

  7. Pingback: Cold Spaghetti » Blog Archive » Just Posts for a Just World: February 2009

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