A rather silly defense of Juan Williams (or two)


From The Corner:

Following up on Greg's post below, National Public Radio's ombudsman has penned a column addressing listener complaints about her network's most controversial personality: Left-leaning analyst fire-breathing rightwinger, Juan Williams.

What transgression did Williams commit that so inflamed NPR's listeners?  He dared to suggest that Michelle Obama might become a political liability for the White House.  Oh, and he appears regularly on Fox News.

And you will know them by their strawmen. For the record Williams called Michelle Obama "Stokely Carmichael in a dress" and then said she tended to "blame America first." Saying that that's the same as calling Michelle Obama "a political liability," is like calling a woman a bitch, and then later claiming you simply meant she had anger issues. Anyway, The Corner is pissed that Williams now can't ID himself as an NPR guy on Fox. Goldfarb, of closet orcs and elves fame, sees the wicked hand of lefty censorship:

Williams appears frequently on Fox News and is typically identified as "NPR News Political Analyst," which is precisely what his job title at NPR is. Williams is not on staff at NPR, rather he is an independent contractor -- and thus presumably free to sell his services wherever else he pleases. Which raises the question: does NPR even have the right, as a government-funded network, to publicly condemn an independent contractor for the manner in which he describes the First Lady while on his own time?

Meh, I read the column. Neither Goldfarb nor Teh Corner quote a single graph of condemnation or wrist-slapping. Goldfarb actually quotes Juan Williams talking in the piece--not the writer. Man, with foes like these...

But the truly lamest defense of Williams--arguably the laziest defense I've heard of any public official in months, goes to Robin Givhan:

The vitriol has flown at those, such as journalist Juan Williams, who have suggested that she can be too aggressive or dour in some of her speeches. And the poor woman who wished in Women's Wear Daily that Obama had worn an ensemble by a black designer during the inauguration was verbally pummeled . . . by black designers. She and Williams may have been wrong. But still, theirs were just opinions.

OK, stop laughing. Let me get this straight--the defense of Juan Williams is that it's "just opinions." Right. The attacks on Williams, also, were "just opinions." So what the frack is your point? Meanwhile, in the real world, opinions should be informed by something--like, you know, facts.

One way to know that these guys are bullshitting you is that not one of them has actually defended what Williams actually said. Indeed, the actual quote doesn't appear in any of these pieces. If you read them you'd be left with the impression that Williams merely suggested that Obama was a bad political surrogate. What I'm waiting on, is for of these cats to actually defend what Williams said--not what they wish he'd said. For your edification, it's linked below.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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