Hume Excoriates NPR's 'Howling Double Standard' and Intolerance for a 'Bill Cosby Liberal'
Published: 10/24/2010 3:35 PM ET
On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume condemned NPR for its "howling double standard" in firing Juan Williams for expressing an opinion, a standard "manifestly not being applied to other NPR people." He forwarded the theory that "in the culture of NPR, appearing on Fox is a sin" and "for an African-American man" to "be kind of a Bill Cosby liberal, not a down-the-line liberal, is a sin as well."
Hume's assessment came after host Chris Wallace read from a column in which Cokie Roberts denounced Glenn Beck as "worse than a clown. He's more like a terrorist," showed a clip of her disagreeing with a court ruling on partial birth abortion and ran a soundbite of Nina Totenberg, NPR's legal correspondent, attacking a Supreme Court decision. Fortune magazine's Nina Easton recalled how Daniel Schorr "did a biting, acerbic, liberal commentary regularly on NPR" where "he called the 2000 Supreme Court decision, that gave George Bush the right to take office as President, he described that as a 'junta,' as 'a coup.'"
"So much to dislike about NPR, it's hard to know where to begin," Bill Kristol later quipped.
There's no evidence that Nina Totenberg has ever been in any way criticized, warned, or suffered any loss of standing for her freewheeling opinion-dispensing that she's done on that show, Inside Washington, for the better part of two decades. And as you pointed out, Cokie Roberts, another esteemed colleague, someone like you we all know very well has never been reprimanded for that kind of thing either.My Saturday BiasAlert, with video, "Krauthammer Directly Challenges Totenberg on NPR's 'Hypocrisy' in Firing Juan Williams While Letting Her Opine Freely," also noted:
It's a howling double standard. The standard that was applied to Juan Williams is manifestly not being applied to other NPR people. I think it's simply this: In the culture of NPR, appearing on Fox is a sin. And in the culture of NPR, for an African-American man like Juan, regardless of his extraordinary stature, to be there and be kind of a Bill Cosby liberal, not a down-the-line liberal, is a sin as well. They've been gunning for him for years.
In a Thursday post, "Is Nina Totenberg Next? NPR's legal affairs correspondent frequently expresses her pro-Democratic opinion," the Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes recited several examples in recent weeks of Totenberg sharing her liberal opinions on Inside Washington, including one lifted by Reason.com's Michael C. Moynihan from the MRC's site, which embedded our video from YouTube. That quote was a runner-up in the MRC's 1999 "I'm a Compassionate Liberal But I Wish You Were All Dead Award (for media hatred of conservatives)" at the our very first DisHonors Awards dinner/gala. In 1995, she venomously spouted about Senator Jesse Helms:
Brian Bolduc, for a National Review Online post, "What About Totenberg?", also used the MRC site to locate even more examples of Totenberg's strident left-wing opinions.I think he ought to be worried about what's going on in the Good Lord's mind, because if there is retributive justice, he'll get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it.
From the October 24 Fox News Sunday first aired on Fox and later in the day re-run on FNC:
CHRIS WALLACE: Your former bosses at NPR, the specific grounds for your dismal said the problem was that you're a news analyst, you're supposed to provide analysis based on fact and, in fact, they say, you provided opinion. I want to show though, before I get your answer, what some of your colleagues atNPR have said over the years.- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.
In March, Cokie Roberts wrote a column about Glenn Beck in which she said this: "Beck is worse than a clown. He's more like a terrorist who believes he has discovered the One True Faith, and condemns everyone else as a heretic. And that makes him something else as well - a traitor to the American values he professes loudly to defend." That's Cokie Roberts in a column. And there's Cokie's reaction on This Week, the ABC show, to a Supreme Court ruling on partial birth abortion. Let's watch.
COKIE ROBERTS, ON THIS WEEK, May 22, 2007: I'm just saying women would be protected from regrets later in life. You know, there are lots of moral decisions people make all through their lives where they regret them. And the idea that the court is going to stop that for women is something I think is just offensive.
WALLACE: Somehow NPR didn't seem to think those opinions were objectionable.
JUAN WILLIAMS: You know what I think, just to be blunt, I think that they were using a lot of this as a pretext to get rid of me. I think they don't like the idea that I appear on Fox News. I think they think that somehow, in their own state of mind, I'm somehow legitimizing Fox News by simply appearing on shows, rather than being willing to engage in debate and discussion. I think that is in the great American tradition.
The second point I want to make very quickly, Chris, before you bring other people in here is this. They suggest that I somehow violated NPR standards, journalistic standards, by telling people about a feeling I had. I think in terms of my values and I think, I hope in terms of everybody's values for journalists, that people should be open and able to say this is how I feel in this situation. Let's talk about it. I didn't advocate discriminating against Muslims.
WALLACE: Brit, we also have the case of Nina Totenberg, who's not an analyst but NPR's legal affairs correspondent. Besides a few years ago wishing that the late Senator Jesse Helms would get AIDS-
BRIT HUME: Or his grandchildren.
WALLACE: Or his grandchild, for opposing AIDS government research. We also have just in the last month her reaction - remember, she covers the court - to the court's ruling on Citizens United, a decision that said that corporations can get more involved in political campaigns. Let's watch.
NINA TOTENBERG, ON INSIDE WASHINGTON, OCTOBER 10: Really, this is the next scandal. It's the scandal in the making. They don't have to disclose anything. And eventually, this is the kind of thing that led to Watergate.
WALLACE: And again, this is a reporter who covers the court. So what's going on here?
HUME: This is a reporter, that was an opinion. Now, this is what has been so howlingly clear about this case right from the get-go. That was the statement by Vivian Schiller, the CEO of NPR, the day after this happened when she sought to explain it and said they had a clear editorial standard at NPR that its analysts, and presumably even more so its correspondents, were not permitted to express opinions. Fact-based analysis fine, not opinions. Juan has expressed opinions over the years here on Fox, it's always sat badly.
There's no evidence that Nina Totenberg has ever been in any way criticized, warned, or suffered any loss of standing for her freewheeling opinion-dispensing that she's done on that show, Inside Washington, for the better part of two decades. And as you pointed out, Cokie Roberts, another esteemed colleague, someone like you we all know very well has never been reprimanded for that kind of thing either.
WALLACE: So what's the reason?
HUME: It's a howling double standard. The standard that was applied to Juan Williams is manifestly not being applied to other NPR people. I think it's simply this: In the culture of NPR, appearing on Fox is a sin. And in the culture of NPR, for an African-American man like Juan, regardless of his extraordinary stature, to be there and be kind of a Bill Cosby liberal, not a down-the-line liberal, is a sin as well. They've been gunning for him for years. This remark about Muslim, people in Muslim garb at airports, was merely a pretext and they've been wanting to get him and they got him and so doing exposed themselves for what they are.
NINA EASTON, FORTUNE: You can't get past this double standard issue. I'll raise another name. The late great Daniel Schorr did a biting, acerbic, liberal commentary regularly on NPR. In fact, he called the 2000 Supreme Court decision, that gave George Bush the right to take office as President, he described that as a "junta," as "a coup" and described the Supreme Court as "gang of five." He's always been lauded. And it was a liberal opinion, fine, but they called him a news analyst, the same way they called Juan. So this distinction between news analyst and opinion is not being applied in any kind of fair manner.
BILL KRISTOL: So much to dislike about NPR, it's hard to know where to begin. For me, CEO Schiller's comment, the arrogance of it...[Vivian Schiller on Thursday: "His feelings, that he expressed on Fox News, are really between him and his psychiatrist."] The total lack of even not self-awareness to know that you are the CEO of a major news organization, one that happens to get quite a lot of government funding, and you're allowed to slander people that way. Unbelievable.