Monday, January 10, 2011

807 Helen Thomas, Juan Williams

807 The Resurrections of Helen Thomas & Juan Williams

2011 is turning out to be a good year for journalists perceived as bigots.

Helen Thomas

You’d think that after taking as hard a fall as she did, and now 90 years old, that she’d call it a day after resigning from Hearst. “Get the Jews out of Palestine” was not her first anti-semitic remark. Nor was it her first loony outburst. There have been plenty of others on this and any number of other subjects. Still, as UPI reporter and White House Correspondent, she often churned the waters where they needed churning and asked rude questions that needed to be asked rudely.

So, now, here she is back with a column. At the Falls Church (VA) “News-Press,” a weekly paper with a circulation of about 30-thousand, and which appears to take itself VERY seriously. Falls Church is one of those Fairfax County Washington area suburbs where you can get away from the... um... “urban-ness” and pressure of Washington.

Won’t be long before someone decides to syndicate the column. And if the first one is any indication of what’s to come, someone should. It’s a fine analysis of the Social Security system ending with these two sentences:
Let's not give the newly empowered Republicans - and their blindsided tea party allies - the ability to wipe out or even mitigate the only economic security deprived Americans can count on. Where is their heart?

So the question is: should a 90 year old American journalist of Lebanese extraction be given a public voice after hearing her short anti-Jewish rant and long apology?

Yeah. It least we know where she’s coming from: she opines, you decide.

Juan Williams

Unlike Thomas, Williams is not ancient unless you consider 56 as such. He’s worked for some big time newspapers and until recently divided his time as a news analyst between National Public Radio and Fox News. Williams was forced out of NPR when he told his Fox viewers that he is uncomfortable when getting on a plane with people dressed in Arab garb.

The falling ax provoked a huge outcry from conservatives, who say Williams was exercising his right to free speech. NPR said at the time he was violating their guidelines. But NPR is really college radio on steroids, and so it took the college way out: appointed an investigating committee. In the real world, that means “find a fall guy.”

They found one and a half.

The committee’s report resulted in the firing of Williams’ former boss, Ellen Weiss, who canned him, and the denial of a 2010 bonus to CEO Vivian Schiller.

You might think that a thought similar to this occurred to the committee: Hey, we get lots of donations from big business. A lot of big business is fairly conservative and thinks of us as a liberal mouthpiece. Let’s get rid of someone so we make sure the bucks continue to roll in.

Did that happen? Who knows?

Weiss only fired the guy. Schiller, who remains in place minus the bonus, made Williams look like he should be in a padded cell somewhere.

Don’t cry for Juan, he’s landed on his feet, and much more lucratively than Thomas. He also expressed a feeling -- right or wrong -- that many others harbor but don’t mention.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
©WJR 2011
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