National Public Radio CEO Vivian Schiller has now apologized for a "thoughtless" remark about Juan Williams, whom she fired as an analyst for admitting that he gets "worried" when he's flying and sees people in "Muslim garb" on the plane. Schiller had told an Atlanta crowd that Williams should take his feelings up with "his psychiatrist or his publicist."
Will Schiller now fire herself? NPR officials seem to have a free-floating hair-trigger oversensitivity, even about their own thoughts. This wouldn't seem to make for exciting, or even honest, radio. It's clear from this interview, for example, that Williams's firing was in part delayed punishment for his saying that Michelle Obama had "this Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress thing going on." I guess that was a colorful line. Can't have that ...
NPR's official opinion-control dogma, it turns out, requires two highly tenuous distinctions:
1) "Analyst" vs. "Commentator." According to Schiller, Williams would have had much more leeway if he'd been a "commentator" like, say, E. J. Dionne. But he's only an "analyst." Who knew? I suggest a system of color-coded badges to distinguish the two journalistic castes (though that won't work on radio, I guess). Mere "analysts," it should be noted, are not just prohibited from expressing their "strong opinions" on NPR. They are prohibited from expressing them anywhere. So Juan Williams couldn't express his views in public—say in an op-ed, or a college lecture, or a book? What were they thinking?
2) "Punditry" vs. "fact-based analysis." This absurdly vague, amateurish distinction actually appears in NPR's "ethics code," apparently. What "pundit" doesn't try to base his statements on fact? What "analyst" doesn't sometimes engage in "speculation"? In practice, of course, "punditry" is likely to mean "analysis you don't agree with." The incoherence of the distinction provides a playground for NPR-style prejudices. It is a prejudice in itself—a prejudice in favor of anything that seems respectable. ...
Here's some punditish speculation: Schiller's in trouble. Whatever her intent, she fired a black man for not abiding by his second-class speech status! Then she snarked at him. Might not play well, no matter how PC she was trying to be. When you've lost Howie Kurtz, you've lost respectable. 4:59 p.m.
Lame-Duck Watch: Pay no attention—we're only pandering! From a post on Examiner.com (Phoenix)—
Chicanos Unidos Arizona has learned that Democrats will try and push through immigration reform before the likely takeover of the House by Republicans in January. An activist in Harry Reid's camp has sent us a proposed revised version of the Dream Act, which may or may not make it to debate.
The "Dream Act" would offer amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who crossed the border when they were under age 16. According to the "activist in Harry Reid's camp," the "revised" version would be expanded to cover those who are now as old as age 45. They wouldn't have to attend college, as required by some versions of "Dream." But if they attended college and graduated, their entire family would be eligible for citizenship.
Given the nonauthoritative source, this is probably a case of Reid people throwing any old fantasy out there in a desperate attempt to rouse the Latino vote for his close race against Sharron Angle. If that's the goal, though, why raise the prospect of action in the upcoming lame-duck session, which Reid could initiate even—perhaps especially—if he loses his reelection bid?
In any case, opponents of amnesty would be crazy not to take this Democratic lame-duck talk seriously, however improbable it seems. ... I kind of thought Dems were faking it when they talked about passing health-care reform even after Scott Brown's 2010 Senate win. Then they went ahead and passed it, because they could. Well, Dems can pass lots of things in a lame-duck session, especially since they are likely to know it's their last chance for a long time. ... 4:55 p.m.