Friday, October 22, 2010
That whole Juan Williams deal--
Just last week, Bill Maher, who I don't always agree with but do appreciate for how he advances a conversation, reiterated the comment made earlier that week by Bill O'Reilly, that "Muslims killed us" on 9/11. This did not get him "fired" from HBO the way his comments about how terrorists might be "braver" than some American troops because of their willingness to face physical harm and death got him fired from his last show. And yet it seems to me this kind of generalization is not uncommon. O'Reilly said it also--but of course FOX didn't care. It upset the more liberal members of The View. But then, that show is prone to vigorous debate (and it's weird the directions that show does take--the women of The View cover a lot of ground and I have mad respect for Barbara Walters.)
That being said, I think Juan Williams' media role is different, and although what he said might be construed as less horrible (albeit still in the definition of bigotry, although I think he was trying to express that he both knew it was bigotry and explain how he personally reacted, right or wrong), his firing is kind of in line with the recent Rick Sanchez firing. They both are principally considered journalists, not so much opinion/entertainment talent. I think both of them had developed the habit of vexing their respective employers, and at some point, a straw was broken and a line in the sand got crossed. They just took what they were saying in a direction that, as journalists, cheapened their aura of professionalism and damaged the reputations their employers depended on--
So in regards to the mostly FOX-personality generated "firestorm" of right-wing controversy, the thing I find especially interesting is that the conservatives will champion the "free speech" rights of an employee over their contractual obligations to their employer, which I kind of thought was not how they usually viewed the employee/employer relationship. So I also expect them to champion the free speech rights of any activists who get canned by their employer because of their support of baby seals, or redwoods or dolphins or lovable foreign folks we might go to war with.
And yet my breath remains unheld.