Our so-called conversation about the Juan Williams firing

Some of the best coverage of the firing of National Public Radio news analyst Juan Williams has been  NPR's own. But the broader conversation has quickly become a chorus of ridiculousness:

  • Republican politicians are pushing to strip NPR of federal funding-which accounts for a small portion of its budget, all received indirectly via Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding of local stations and of foundations that support NPR.
  • Some commentators are saying Williams's first amendment rights have been violated, missing the distinction between one's right to free speech and one's duty as a journalist to exercise this right while upholding the standards of good reporting and analysis.
  • Others have even suggested that NPR acted out of racism. (Williams was one of the organization's few senior black reporters.)
  • Members of local NPR affiliates are talking about withholding pledges. Pastors I know are saying they will never again give to public radio again-pastors who also argue against congregation members withholding donations because of mistakes by church leaders.

Our national conversation has become a kneejerk festival, celebrating whoever can have the most sensational reaction in the shortest amount of time. I'm all for honest dialogue about prejudice and fear, about public funding of the news, about the distinction between sound reporting and jabbering-head TV. By all means, let's talk.

But please, let's think before we speak.

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the whole story matters most

The Washington Post pointed out in their editorial criticizing NPR's action that Juan Williams was actually arguing for the the opposite point for which he was fired. (10/22). His initial confession, for which he was apparently fired. was only a set up for his larger argument why we must not give in to our natural inclinations to fear and suspicion. NPR made a huge mistake by not listening to the whole interview, and especially by not having an interview with Juan Williams prior to his dismissal. Ironically, NPR now looks like the biased media they claim to be criticizing by firing Williams. They appear to be tone deaf to the political climate we are living in at this moment.

I agree, but

I agree that there is more heat that light in most debates today. But it may have been wise for NPR to think before they fired?

the flip side

Or for Juan Williams to think before he opines?

toxic environment

We are in a toxic environment of 24/7 news channels that magnify acts and fuel disagreements. Add to this election fervor. Can we take a step back from the fray as followers of Christ, reflect and then respond as people who were called to be salt and light.

toxic environment

We are in a toxic environment of 24/7 news channels that magnify acts and fuel disagreements. Add to this election fervor. Can we take a step back from the fray as followers of Christ, reflect and then respond as people who were called to be salt and light.

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