Why, exactly, was Juan Williams fired from NPR? The Council on American Islamic Relations' Ibrahim Hooper appeared on Fox News, Thursday, and proclaimed that the "right"-leaning Juan Williams wasn't a "good fit" for the "more liberal viewpoint" of NPR.
During the extremely contentious interview with America Live's Megyn Kelly, the host pressed Hooper, the national communications director, as to why the organization pushed for Mr. Williams' firing. Hooper admitted, "And I think everyone is recognizing now that perhaps it wasn't a good fit between the network and Mr. Williams..." [MP3 here. Click on blog for video.]
He added that the commentator "was increasingly leaning towards the right and NPR obviously has a more liberal viewpoint and there wasn't a good fit there, so perhaps this was the breaking point." (Williams was fired Wednesday night after saying that he gets "nervous" when Muslims in traditional garb are on planes with him.)
An incredulous Kelly retorted, "...So your perception is you're really not welcome on NPR if you have any views that are less than liberal?" Pivoting off what appears to be close coordination between the left-wing NPR and CAIR, she later quizzed, "Does CAIR contribute to NPR?"
Hooper repeatedly tried to push Kelly into the same situation as Williams. He demanded, "Are you one of those Americans that holds the view you should be nervous about American Muslims on a flight?" Finally, the anchor shot back: "Let me explain how it works. I'm the anchor, you are the guest. Okay? I'm interviewer and you are the interviewee."
During the segment, Hooper repeatedly insisted that CAIR didn't push for Williams' dismissal. He denied, "We didn't call for any specific action against him." Yet, a Tweet from CAIR Thursday night trumpeted, "Good News: NPR Ends Analyst’s Contract After Comments on #Muslims."
If even CAIR will admit the liberal bias of NPR, perhaps other journalists should concede the skewed perspective of the organization.
A transcript of the October 21 segment, which aired at 2:01pm EDT, follows:
MEGYN KELLY: Ibrahim Hooper is the national communications director for CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations. CAIR called for swift action against Juan Williams and they got it. So, Mr. Hooper are you how happy now?
IBRAHIM HOOPER: Well, we were raising the issue of airline profiling. We get a number of reports each year from American Muslims and Muslims who travel on airplanes that they feel they are singled out based on exactly what Williams was talking about, their attire.
KELLY: Right. But, my question is, are you happy now?
HOOPER: Well it was, we didn't ask NPR to take specific action. We just asked the network to address the concerns about-
KELLY: You asked for action. You asked for action and you called the comments irresponsible and inflammatory and wanted them to address it. And you say "they should not pass without action." So, are you happy now?
HOOPER: Well, we're pleased that the network addressed Muslim concerns. It was really up to them what to do in response to this. And I think everyone is recognizing now that perhaps it wasn't a good fit between the network and Mr. Williams, given his-
KELLY: Why is that? Why is that? Because you're not allowed to express your honest opinions?
HOOPER: No, because he had views on a number of issues that didn't reflect the viewpoint of the station. I mean it's quite obvious.
KELLY: Which is what?
HOOPER: You know, if you're going to interrupt me every time I make a sentence, you know it's not going to work.
KELLY: I just want to clarify. You're saying the views of the station? What are those views?
HOOPER: Well, he was increasingly leaning towards the right and NPR obviously has a more liberal viewpoint and there wasn't a good fit there, so perhaps this was the breaking point.
KELLY: So, you're not really, so your perception is you're really not welcome on NPR if you have any views that are less than liberal?
HOOPER: I'm not here representing NPR. They can represent themselves quite well. But, you know, it was good that they addressed Muslim concerns on the issue of airline profiling. Again, we get a number of these reports every year, and it's something that is a big issue in the Muslim community, and when someone in a mainstream media setting seems to legitimize airline profiling that is of concern to us.
KELLY: I understand that's how you view Juan's comments. Let me ask you this, sir: Do you think Juan Williams is a bigot?
HOOPER: No I don't think he's a bigot.
KELLY: Right. I mean, that's preposterous, right?
HOOPER: Everybody is accountable for their words and their actions, and when he seemed to legitimize singling out people who are perceived to be Muslim based on their attire on airlines I think that crosses the line, and it seems to legitamize profiling of American Muslims.
KELLY: Did he do sir or did he say something that is a belief he honestly held. Let me finish my question. Let me finish my question and I'll give you a chance to respond.
HOOPER: People can hold beliefs that are bigoted.
KELLY: Listen, I'm here to tell you a lot of Americans-
HOOPER: It would be good if I had a chance to respond to anything you've said so far.
KELLY: I'm here to tell you a lot of Americans share Juan's view and it doesn't make them bigots, it makes them honest. Because it was Muslim extremists that attacked us on 9/11 on airplanes.
HOOPER: What would you say about the two Muslim women in Washington State at a news conference with our Seattle office today because they were physically attacked and attempted to be run over at a gas station in that state because of their, quote, Muslim garb? They were physically attacked
KELLY: But, what you don't seem to understand, Mr. Hooper. What you don't seem to understand- I don't know- Did you watch the whole segment with Juan and O'Reilly?
HOOPER: I read the whole transcript.
KELLY: So, you saw that Juan actually spent the entire segment saying, "Look, I confess. I'm not a bigot, but I have this concern." And then spent very moment defending Muslims. Yes. And challenging Bill to make sure he specified Muslim extremists.
HOOPER: No, he was there to agree He was there to agree with Bill O'Reilly's statement that Muslims killed.
KELLY: No sir! No sir. I watched it live and I have the transcript in front of me.
HOOPER: He said, you were correct in that.
KELLY: He also said this, sir. No. Watch. Roll the tape!
BILL O'REILLY: It makes it easier for them to come up with this kind of crazy stuff that, "You can't say the Muslims attacked us on 9/11." Were they Norwegians? Come on.
JUAN WILLIAMS: Wait a second. Hold on. Because if you said that Timothy McVeigh, the Atlanta bomber, people protesting against homosexuality at military funerals, very obnoxious, you don't say, first and foremost, we have got a problem with Christians. That would be crazy.
O'REILLY: Because it's not at that level. It doesn't rise near to that level.
WILLIAMS: Correct. And that's, when you said in the Talking Points Memo there were good Muslims, I think that's a point.
KELLY: And he went on to stress that you need to specify that it's extremists.
HOOPER: Okay. Can I finish a sentence or two here? All right. First of all we never called him a bigot. We never called for his firing. But when he goes on a segment devoted to Bill O'Reilly saying "The Muslim threat to the world is not isolated, it's huge, it involves nations and millions of people." And the next thing out Mr. Williams' mouth is "I think you are right." And then goes on to state that he thinks any time he sees a Muslim on an airplane he's worried and nervous. That raises issues with us and as a civil rights and advocacy group we have the right to speak out. Don't we?
KELLY: Does he have the right to speak out, sir? Does he have the right to speak out? Let me finish my question.
HOOPER: He has the right to speak out and so do we.
KELLY: Does he have the right to get a dialogue started? Whether you like it or not, Mr. Hooper, a lot of Americans agree with Juan Williams!
HOOPER: Do you agree with him? Are you nervous when a Muslim is on a plane?
KELLY: Does it do a service to the nation to ignore it?
HOOPER: Are you nervous when a Muslim is on a plane?
KELLY: Listen, I ask the questions here, not answer them.
HOOPER: Yeah, I know, because you don't want to answer that question, now do you?
KELLY: Does it do a disservice to the nation, Mr. Hooper, does it do a disservice to the nation to ignore that many Americans have that view or is it a better service- Listen to my question if you would, sir?
HOOPER: Are you one of those Americans that holds the view you should be nervous about American Muslims on a flight?
KELLY: Listen, you can obfuscate all you want. You don't want to answer the question. You don't want to answer the question.
HOOPER: I'm not obfuscating anything. You don't want to answer the question.
KELLY: Let me explain how it works. I'm the anchor, you are the guest. Okay? I'm interviewer and you are the interviewee.
HOOPER: Yeah, normally a guest gets to answer a few questions. I haven't been able to do that.
KELLY: You're going to get the chance to answer if you let me get the question out, sir. The question is is it more of a service to this nation if you allow honest, non-bigoted men like Juan William express their concerns then have an some dialogue how we can get past that or is it to stifle that free speech and opinion by firing them?
HOOPER: We can have an open dialogue. And that's exactly what a dialogue is. It's give and take. He says something, we react to it. You seem to think only he should be able to say something and we shouldn't be able to react to it. Is that your definition of a dialogue? And, by the way, I would like you to answer the question whether you are nervous when a Muslim gets on a plane with you.
KELLY: You don't want dialogue, sir. You called for punitive action against him.
HOOPER: We didn't call for any specific action against him.
KELLY: But, you wanted something done. Your memo makes that perfectly clear. "This should not pass without action, these irresponsible and inflammatory comments."
HOOPER: Maybe they could have had a meeting with him to discuss the issue. That would have been any sort of action as well.
KELLY: You could have made any sort of statement condemning the remarks, offering a different point. Asking Juan Williams to come and discuss it, host a forum. "How can we get past this?" Instead you wanted him gone, sir, and he is!
HOOPER: Well, you are making that up. But other than that [laughs], we never said that.
KELLY: Do you think that this helps you? Does this help CAIR? Do you think the American people are going to think better of CAIR?
HOOPER: I have gotten a lot of hate calls this morning asking that specific question. CAIR is a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group. It's our job to defend the civil rights of American Muslims. I'm sorry if you don't like that.
KELLY: I'm just asking. CAIR has been trying to improve its reputation and it's been trying to establish that it's a moderate organization. Do you think this is going to help win favor in that regard?
HOOPER: I think any time you challenge racial and religious profiling and defend civil liberties, I think a civil rights group is doing its job. I'm sorry you don't think that's the role of a civil rights group.
KELLY: I'm not taking an opinion, sir, I'm asking what you think.
HOOPER: Yeah, obviously you have no opinions on the subject at all!
KELLY: Does CAIR contribute to NPR?
HOOPER: No, we don't contribute to anybody, but if people want to contribute to CAIR.com, they can go to CAIR.com.
KELLY: And is that how they e-mail you too? Because I'll be there are a lot of people out there who would love to share their opinions with you.
HOOPER: They can e-mail me at Ihooper@CAIR.com. And, you know, I've already been getting hate e-mails saying they agree with Mr. Williams. So, that may tell you something as well.