GOP Goes After Big Bird

bigbird.gifIn the wake of the Juan Williams firing (see Half Way to Pledge Week), a number of leading Republicans have called for the de-fuding of not just NPR but all public broadcasting. (Direct public funding of NPR is about 2% of its budget, but by the time you add up the indirect revenue it grows to about 20%. NPR is only a small part of federal spending on public broadcasting.)

This is overreach and likely will end badly for them, as it casts Republican grinches against Big Bird and Bert and Ernie.

Richard Nixon tried to cut funding for PBS in half once, and Mr. Rogers went to capitol hill and got the money back. See Mister Rogers defending PBS to the US Senate:

Big Bird is popular with most Republicans…and he didn't fire Juan Williams.

PS. Somewhat irrelevantly, people are reviving old stories about Williams from 1991 (sorry, I'm not linking to it), in which it seems he engaged in an extended and shocking practice of aggressive sexual talk to female Washington Post staff and editors, seeming from the published reports to easily rise to a level amounting to harassment. This confirms my hunch that Juan Williams is not the sort of guy you want in your organization — unless you are Fox news, where I guess he'll fit right in and enjoy his new $2 million salary — but doesn't seem to me to be an issue in the latest firing. This behavior almost 20 years ago may say something about the person (or he may have changed), but he's not a candidate for office. It may go to the wisdom of hiring him or allowing him to be a commentator in first place but I don't see the relevance to his retention once he's been hired.

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5 Responses to GOP Goes After Big Bird

  1. Vic says:

    “This confirms my hunch that Juan Williams is not the sort of guy you want in your organization

  2. michael says:

    I promise not to vote for either Bill Clinton or Juan Williams if either runs for office.

  3. As near as I can tell, he got fired for thoughtcrime. He made the mistake of admitting he had bad thoughts occasionally. I’m sure his former co-workers will be more dilligent about policing their private thoughts, or at least keeping them private.

    And, with the relatively minor amount of funding NPR gets, whether they get that last little increment seems to be almost purely a matter of principle, they could certainly get by without it. On that level, I kind of like the principle that we don’t need a government funded media. Certainly much more than the idea that we DO need such a media…

  4. michael says:

    He got fired for violating the terms of his employment contract: he’d been warned several times previously that commentary he provided on on Fox News violated the contract, and this was the last straw.

  5. That would make sense, IF he weren’t basically the only similarly situated NPR employee who got the ax. The fact that he violated the terms of his employment contract enabled them to fire him, it wasn’t *why* they fired him.

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