Juan Williams' colleagues at Fox News must be aghast. Mr. Williams (in photo) has a fat new contract package as a result of shooting to the top of the news cycle heap last week. Williams is a pundit or commentator or analyst or whatever term you want to use.
How about "talking head?"
These people push buttons with what they say to keep a certain constituency listening to them. On air they often appear to be at each other's throats, like politicians of different political parties. When the camera is off I don't think their zeal is quite so hard-edged.
It's like professional wrestling. They assume roles and act. They have philosophical differences but it's not a life and death matter to them.
Williams became a cape-adorned hero to the political right. He must have had something to offer that required deep scholarship.
Not exactly. Mr. Williams became a near-household word because he simply said he was scared sometimes. I suppose that's proper because it's nearly Halloween.
We were charmed by "Beaker" of The Muppet Show even though he was always scared.
I don't have a firm recollection of Williams' comments but I think he said he was afraid of. . .Packer fans. He emphasized that he didn't want to paint all Packer fans with a broad brush. But he said that when he gets on a plane and sees those green and gold colors in first class, or those kitschy cheesehead hats and other paraphernalia, he recoils.
It may not be totally rational, he said, but he feels it. Yes, this is what it was all about - how Williams "feels" when he sees certain people in certain situations.
National Public Radio, another of Williams' employers, decided this wasn't very intellectual, rational or analytical and so it took the prudent course of dismissing him.
NPR has a liberal image and so the rest is history. The political right has its hair on fire over this. Williams himself, who should just shut up, has been on the offensive. The best example Williams could set would be to just move on to other subjects. Fox News has given him a big, comfortable umbrella. He should be thankful for that.
Meanwhile the other "talking heads" of that bizarre righty network must be gnashing their teeth, wondering if they too might get their pot sweetened if they just said inane and brainless things on the air.
Wait a minute, the Fox News people do that all the time. But Williams was in the right place at the right time, getting fired by NPR.
Williams made his comments on The O'Reilly Factor which is the chief prime time show on Fox. O'Reilly is the consummate circus performer who gets an audience the same way Rush Limbaugh does.
You can find more sensible and educated commentary on the day's issues right at our table at McDonald's in Morris every weekday morning, where Glen Helberg, Brent Waddell, Brent's daughter Tawsha and yours truly share thoughts. All we lack is knowledge of "the racket" of cable TV news.
Linda McMahon couldn't script all that cable news chatter any better. On the right there is this drumbeat of being scared, scared of anything government does (except in fighting wars) and of people of color, although the latter is very shaded in how it's expressed.
Cable punditry from the left sprouted as a necessity to counter the verbal bomb-throwing from the right. It's like the need to enter a house full of vampires in order to eradicate them.
And now we have Juan Williams - distinct alliteration there - put on a pedestal because he simply says he's scared of certain people in certain situations, not because of the behavior exhibited by those people (although I admit Packer fans can be obstreperous) but because of who they are.
NPR made a rational decision and now has to retreat into a bunker for a while. An NPR official may have gone too far in suggesting that Williams might need to consult "with his psychiatrist." That comment should have been directed at O'Reilly. Or at Newt Gingrich who shows up often on Fox News to follow his pro wrestling script.
I admit that like Williams I find Packer fans to be somewhat ominous or menacing with their zeal, but making a hard-edged comment in a prejudicial way on a popular television platform is uncalled for. It's unseemly. And it wouldn't even be tolerated at our McDonald's table.
C'mon Mr. Williams, even our favorite lab assistant "Beaker" wouldn't be scared of Packer fans, or Muslims.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org