NPR, Nina Totenberg, and 'Ideological Lynchings'

Like Justice Clarence Thomas many years before him, Juan Williams has been the victim of a twenty-first century ”high-tech lynching’, and NPR is right in the middle of it. The leadership of what should be rightly called ‘National Propaganda Radio’ clearly fired Juan not because of an alleged violation of “news ethics” but to satisfy its left-wing base that hates Fox News.

It’s also ironic that, after all these years, just as in the Justice Thomas nomination controversy, the name of Nina Totenberg is once again near the center of the controversy. Williams was fired for merely expressing his feelings of nervousness when getting on a plane and seeing fellow passengers in Muslim garb – an honest and straightforward expression of how he felt. Nina Totenberg, in a well-remembered and disgraceful statement from the past – for which she was not fired, openly wished that perhaps the late Senator Jesse Helms or his grandchildren might get AIDS as some sort of divine justice. Totenberg has expressed legions of public “opinions” over the years, but, unlike the black man who didn’t toe the line and had to be fired, Nina has been the darling of NPR elites and their liberal sycophants for many years.

NPR CEO Vivian Schiller and the NPR board were clearly looking for an excuse to fire Williams – he has been a thorn in their side for some time. Their vile hypocrisy and attack on free speech is as far-reaching as it is stunning. As an African-American appearing on both NPR and Fox News, Juan Williams had been driving the Left crazy for years simply because he existed and didn’t fit the template. LIberals’ hatred of Fox News is so intense that his presence there has infuriated them for a long time. But Fox-hatred aside, if Schiller and her board had any competence, they could merely have waited quietly and not renewed Williams’ contract when the time came. No one would have yawned. Instead, they had to make him a spectacle and seek to humiliate him. It was indeed a ‘high-tech lynching,’ to recall Justice Thomas’s phrase from his testimony nearly twenty years ago when he was so virulently attacked for his pursuit of a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

It was also Totenberg who helped engineer the national spectacle of Anita Hill, who was the main catalyst of the attack against Justice Thomas. Totenberg used her platform at NPR to catapult Hill to national prominence. She helped set the stage for the ideological lynching that brought Washington and much of the nation to a standstill during that time in 1991, as Thomas’ judicial nomination was subjected to the most cruel and vicious attacks in recent memory. (It is also quite ironic that, after all these years, the Juan Williams episode should occur during roughly the same timeframe as it has been reported that Mrs. Thomas has reached out to Anita Hill, asking for her apology for what she did. According to reports, Hill refused.)

The circumstances are different now than they were in 1991, but not much has really changed: an African-American man who doesn’t fit the liberal template is not welcome in the institutions of power that the Left considers its privileged domain. For Justice Thomas, it was for being conservative; for Juan Williams, it was for the ‘sin’ of regularly appearing on Fox News. Thus, they both had to be ‘dealt with.’  NPR was right in the middle of both incidents. Totenberg herself helped put the machinery in place for the first ‘high-tech’ ideological lynching of Justice Thomas and then stood by as the latest one against Juan Williams unfolded.

Where is her journalistic outrage or a threatened resignation from NPR? Where is the personal integrity of standing up for Juan’s freedom of speech, or of using this as a ‘teachable moment’? Instead, she mumbles about now being placed in an “awkward position.” As a pathetic apologist for NPR, Totenberg can only say: “I think it’s a very very difficult line to draw. And NPR tries to draw it, in my view, using rules that don’t exist anymore.”  What a joke. If enforced NPR “rules” had existed in the past, as Totenberg implies, she should have been fired many times over.

This incident is instructive on many levels:  hatred of Fox News, ideological bias, cowardice, hypocrisy, and incompetence are all on full display for all to see, but integrity and a passionate commitment to freedom of speech by so-called liberals are nowhere to be found. NPR has disgraced itself and continues to affirm its own contemptible actions. Both NPR itself and the Corporation of Public Broadcasting which supports it should be stripped of all public funding.