National Public Radio hasn't exactly been inviting real conservatives -- the ones who think NPR is not a "very valuable" treasure for taxpayers to involuntarily support -- since the Ron Schiller tape was posted. But kudos to Michel Martin, host of the afternoon talk show Tell Me More, for putting on Kevin Williamson of National Review Online on Monday. He said God bless Ron Schiller for revealing the "cultural soul of American liberalism." Martin argued with him that a fundraiser (or an ad salesman) shouldn't be seen as representative of the company. Williamson appeared in the "barbershop" section of the program, where there is normally not a white dude. After he joked about stopping by to be the show's "token middle-American, gun-toting angry person, clinging to religion," he began by responding to Martin asserting everyone was offended by Schiller:
KEVIN WILLIAMSON: Well, I say God bless this guy for having said it.
JIMI IZRAEL: K-dub, go ahead.
MICHEL MARTIN: Why?
WILLIAMSON: Because, you know, that sort of ignorance and contempt, about, you know, people in Middle America being rubes and racists and driven by hatred and religious fundamentalism and all that sort of stuff, that is the cultural soul of American liberalism, and I wish more liberals would talk like that. Tell us what you really think. Be who you are. We'll be who we're going to be. We'll meet in the marketplace of ideas and have it out. But don't be taking public money while you're doing it.
MARTIN: Well, let me just point out - well, I'll just say one thing about that, because that is a very legitimate issue to debate. But here's a guy who was here for 18 months, had nothing to do with the newsroom, is not a journalist, and I don't know that that's reflective of the culture of the newsroom. I mean, if somebody in the advertising department in a commercial broadcast entity had these comments, would somebody be saying well, see, that's what they all think? I don't think so....
WILLIAMSON: Yeah. If someone, you know, who is the CEO of General Electric came out and said some sort of, you know, crazy, nasty, racist or anti-Semitic thing, people would legitimately ask: Is this something that reflects the culture of General Electric? You know, for a non-newsgathering organization, it would be much less controversial, I think. But, you know, there is this - the whole sort of artificial thing, well, it's not really our culture, because he's not really a journalist or something like that, he's a senior executive in your firm.
MARTIN: Well, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. If the guy who sold ads for the National Review was captured on tape saying something ridiculous, would you own it? Would you say, oh, absolutely? Yes, I agree with you. His comments were ridiculous.
WILLIAMSON: At a meeting with clients? Yeah.
"Barbershop" regular Jimi Izrael then made Martin uncomfortable by stating the truth that NPR often sounds like a "tent full of granola eaters" at any given moment:
IZRAEL: Let's talk about why NPR has become a target, because for years, it's come off like this private playground where all the cool kids could play, but all others are welcome as long as they sing along and keep their distance. Now...
MARTIN: I don't agree with that.
IZRAEL: Well, okay, but doesn't your...
MARTIN: But that's a longer conversation than we have for today.
IZRAEL: Fine. Okay.
MARTIN: If you want to talk - I mean, I get it. I get it. But, go ahead Jimi, finish your thought. I mean, I'll just say, we have other things that we want to talk about, but...
IZRAEL: I'm saying look, at the end of the day there may a lot of diverse voices and divergent views expressed in aggregate, but it can sound like a tent full of granola eaters leafing through the newspaper at any given moment. You know, NPR may, in fact, be a news organization, but it sounds a lot like it's left-to-center at any moment in time. And that's what's made it a target.
Republicans will deny the liberal bias made NPR a "target." Since conservatives believe public broadcasting, regardless of whether it's objective, is not a necessary or proper function of government, it's a target -- and that's the reason why conservatives are left out (or targeted) on NPR.