Alissa Krinsky of the TV Newser blog talked to NBC anchor Brian Williams in Chicago Friday on his way to a Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation fundraiser. Williams refused to join the crowd of liberal reporters and celebrities who've called it a mistake. He even refused to condemn the firing for giving Williams to chance to explain himself. Brian was blase, that hey, this is "eye of the beholder stuff," and tough luck, Juan, you don't have the "right to be employed."
TVNewser: It’s been an interesting month for the TV business, with Rick Sanchez let go by CNN, and now FNC's Juan Williams fired by NPR. What do you think of all this, and what do you think of the media coverage of these controversial developments?
Brian Williams: We’ve [covered] Juan the past two nights. The other two networks led with Juan Williams last night. I didn’t think it was quite at that level. But this is ‘eye of the beholder’ stuff. This is where, as someone said on our air last night, the First Amendment gives you the right to say what you want. It doesn’t give you the right to be employed.
So, these media organizations are exerting their own right to employ or not employ these folks. But I think there has been a little bit of a thread of media people, in the public eye, saying things and paying a price for it.
It's always fascinating for a liberal to say someone doesn't have the "right to be employed." No one disagrees with that in principle -- except liberals, and especially when the issue is minority hiring. Krinsky didn't press Williams in this brief encounter that Juan Williams was NPR's only black male on the air, so what does that say about NPR's commitment to diversity?
Williams is also dismissive of the angle that NPR's firing shows excessive sensitivity to radical Muslim censors like CAIR. It's "eye of the beholder stuff"? But when business groups start airing ads against Democrats, Williams is overreacting by comparing it to corruption and Watergate? Business groups apparently have an excess of media power, but NBC and NPR can never be accused of the same.