Juan Williams: Fox Bosses are 'Much More Enlightened' Than NPR or CNN, Fox Viewers Aren't Dumb

Fired NPR news analyst Juan Williams is firing back at critics of Fox News Channel. In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Williams said Fox management is "much more enlightened" than executives at other news outlets, from NPR to CNN:

"At NPR they don't know this: A third of the audience for Bill O'Reilly's show is made up of people of color," Williams said. "At NPR, they think, `Oh, these people who watch Fox don't appreciate diversity of opinion, they're not smart people. They're not informed people. Oh, yeah? I'll tell you what: They're informed."

...Williams said NPR "just doesn't understand the Fox audience" -- or have any idea how much more enlightened Fox News management is in some ways compared with news outlets like NPR, CNBC or CNN.

"Just consider the idea that Fox allows me the opportunity to sit in for Bill O'Reilly on their No. 1 show," he said. "That's the franchise. That's the moneymaker. If that show falls in the toilet, it's bad for the whole lineup. And yet Fox allows a black guy with a Hispanic name to sit in the big chair and host the show."

And, he added, "If you ask NPR they'd say, 'Oh that could never happen at Fox.' But it is happening at Fox. And let me me ask you something? Do you see it an CNBC? Do you it at CNN in prime time. Am I lying to you?"

(Roland Martin would quickly point out that he guest-hosted for about eight weeks at 8 pm last spring while CNN's Campbell Brown was on maternity leave.)

Williams was also interviewed on the NPR-distributed Diane Rehm show on Tuesday, and explained that he was a commentator at Fox News first, before he was hired by NPR. But in his later years in public radio, management began to punish him for the Fox association:

And so to give them some protection, some, you know, space from my opinions, it was decided, okay. We want you here, but sign a contract so we can say to people when you express your opinion, it's not necessarily the opinion of NPR. It's Juan Williams' opinion and he appears in different -- but we hire him as an analyst. So I said, okay. But the minute I did that, they began to cut my salary, diminish my role. I understood that, you know, it seemed to me it was a political tactic intended to hurt me for working at Fox.

Williams also took issue with the idea that he was bigoted against Muslims in a way he wouldn't tolerate against blacks:

I think the NPR Ombudsman [Alicia Shepard] wrote this, what would I have said if someone had described a tall, big, black guy with an afro and a dashiki standing by the airplane door. Would I have said the same thing? And of course, I have two levels of thought about this.

First and foremost, there is no history or record of black people getting in airplanes and taking them into buildings and committing that act of terrorism, so I don't know exactly what she's talking about, but the second thing to say is that if she's suggesting that people have fears, let's say if you're walking down the street and suddenly you turn and you notice that there's a group of young black men dressed thuggishly, I would say, yes. Not only does she might she have some anxiety, I would have some anxiety and famously, Jesse Jackson had some anxiety when he said that that's his feeling when he's on the streets in Chicago. And he said he regretted having to admit that, but that's the truth.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis