Intolerance at National Public Radio, and in the NPR Audience
From the Huffington Post, March 2009:
NPR has asked Fox News not to identify its news analyst, Juan Williams, with NPR branding when he appears on Fox News because of outrage among its largely liberal listener-base. And Fox News has happily agreed to do so.That’s right. The liberal listeners of NPR were “outraged” that Williams had the temerity to appear on a network that they hate. And say some things they disagreed with.
NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard wrote Wednesday that in 2008 she received 378 “complaints and frustrations about things Williams said on Fox,” including claims that Williams “dishonors NPR” and is an “embarrassment to NPR” and that “NPR should severe [sic] their relationship with him.”
Recent listener complaints have centered around Williams’ comment that Michelle Obama could be a liability to her husband. . . . [emphasis added]
Of course, on Fox Williams is pretty much the liberal. But he’s not a dogmatic liberal whose opinions are always predictable.
Of course, Williams is not the only NPR person who has come under fire. Also from the Huffington Post:
NPR asked its leading political correspondent, Mara Liasson, to reconsider her regular appearances on Fox News, where she is a paid contributor, Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports.It’s a reality of contemporary liberalism: liberals simply can’t stand that people are allowed to say things they disagree with.
Gerstein reports that “Liasson was summoned in early October by NPR’s executive editor for news, Dick Meyer, and the network’s supervising senior Washington editor, Ron Elving” about concerns they had over Fox News’ programming and its changes since President Obama had taken office. They asked her to spend 30 days watching the network; she obliged, and “reported that she’d seen no significant change in Fox’s programming,” Gerstein reports.
The timing of NPR’s request coincided with the White House’s battle against the network.
An NPR spokesperson refused to comment specifically about Liasson, telling Politico, “As part of our ongoing work we have internal conversations about talent appearances all the time that are part of our regular editorial evaluation.” The spokesperson added, “There’s no relationship between the White House’s criticism of Fox and any discussions about Fox that we’re having.”
A Fox News spokesperson said, “With the ratings we have, NPR should be paying us to even be mentioned on our air.”
While not every liberal is intolerant, intolerance is now very much mainstream among liberals. We see it in attempts to shut up people who want to participate in political campaigns, attempts to shut up conservative talk radio, and speech codes on college campuses.
The reasons are various, but the fundamental problem is that liberals are simply much more able than conservatives to isolate themselves from the mainstream. They had college professors who were virtually uniformly liberal or leftist. They enter occupations (like academia or journalism) where pretty much everybody thinks the same way. They segregate themselves in neighborhoods (like Milwaukee’s East Side) where most of their neighbors think the same way. They get their news from the mainstream media, from NPR and from a highly selected bunch of leftist web sites (Daily Kos, Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo).
Isolation breeds narrow parochialism, and that breeds intolerance of dissenting opinions.
Modern liberals aren’t the first nor the only people this has happened to, but the combination of intolerance and political power among today’s liberals is particularly dangerous.