Fri Oct 22, 11:16 am ET

Conservatives call to defund NPR after Williams’ firing

By Michael Calderone

Fox News host Bill O'Reilly continued to publicize the conservative crusade to defund NPR over the partly publicly funded radio network's controversial decision to fire Juan Williams for remarks made earlier in the week on "The O'Reilly Factor." NPR dismissed Williams, a longtime commentator who has written widely on civil rights issues, for confessing his personal skittishness over seeing fellow air travelers dressed in Muslim garb, on O'Reilly's show.

"No taxpayer dollars should be going to an outfit that abuses freedom of speech," O'Reilly said. The top-rated cable news host echoed the rising refrain among many conservative critics of the Williams firing: "No more money to NPR." You can watch O'Reilly interview Williams below:

On Friday morning, Williams himself joined the call to defund NPR during an appearance on "Fox & Friends," in which he called the network "elitist" and described it as being on the "federal dole."

[Rewind: 'View' hosts walk out during O'Reilly interview]

O'Reilly and Williams -- who are of course the people at the center of the flap -- aren't the only ones making that argument. Over the past 24 hours, conservative commentators and politicians/Fox contributors Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee took to the airwaves and social media arguing a similar point.

"If NPR is unable to tolerate an honest debate about an issue as important as Islamic terrorism, then it's time for 'National Public Radio' to become 'National Private Radio,' Palin wrote on Facebook "It's time for Congress to defund this organization."

[Photos: More images of news analyst Juan Williams]

Huckabee said he'll "no longer accept interview requests from NPR as long as they are going to practice a form of censorship, and since NPR is funded with public funds, it IS a form of censorship."

With all the heated rhetoric against NPR -- a longtime conservative target -- there's probably some confusion about how much money NPR, along with members stations across the country, actually receives from state and federal sources.

NPR spokeswoman Anna Christopher told the Upshot that "NPR receives no direct federal money in any given year."

Christopher explained that NPR receives about 1 to 2 percent of its funds in the form of competitive federal grants -- a figure similar to the proportion of the budgets for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting or the National Endowment for the Arts that come from government grants. That accounts for a roughly $1.5 million to $3 million annually, Christopher said. She also noted that individual NPR member stations receive, on average, about 10 percent of their funding from state and federal sources. (More specific details on NPR's funding are available here.)

[Related: Hours after NPR firing, Williams signs $2 million contract with Fox]

So NPR, along with its member stations, may not receive as much as some right-wing commentators let on. But there's still some federal money, and because of that, NPR's critics are likely to keep pushing against the network.

The Williams-NPR controversy has drawn a tremendous amount of attention in media circles — evident on sites like Romenesko and Mediagazer. Critics have laid into Williams' comment  and NPR's decision (along with NPR's handling of the entire episode). The Upshot's first report on Williams' firing has so far received about 25,000 comments -- more evidence that the controversy is provoking strong reactions among the public and sparking online debates about bigotry, profiling on airplanes, public funding for media, and the question of whether political correctness has run amok.

If Congress decides to step in with investigations and legislation addressing the episode, such debates will probably continue to gain attention, and grow more heated.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said he plans to introduce legislation Friday to cut off federal funding. Such a move by the tea party favorite could galvanize conservatives -- especially on Fox News and talk radio -- who have long been critical of NPR and its perceived liberal leanings.

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7,523 Comments

  • 0 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 0 users disliked this comment
    Donald 39 minutes ago Report Abuse
    The solution to the problem at NPR is to terminate the contracts of all members of the management who played a role in and were favorable to Juan Williams' contract termination. This action would go a long way to eliminating the stifling atmosphere of political correctness that permeates NPR offices in DC. The explanations by management for Williams' termination sounded like a politician trying to explain away his lovers to the press and his wife - one explanation one day and another on the following day. Furthermore, stating that Williams' initial feelings about persons getting on a plane in obviously Muslim garb should be shared with his psychiatrist - sound like a political attack ad rather than the professionalism we've come to expect from NPR.
    Lastly, let's be real. Looking to the likes of O'Reilly, Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, Huckabee, etc. to defend the likes of Williams is like asking a herd of foxes to defend a hen house. The crocodile "tears" wept for Williams are simply not to be believed given the animosity these people have expressed toward public radio for many years.
  • 0 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 0 users disliked this comment
    Responsibility 1 hour ago Report Abuse
    Are all of these people intentionally making these biased, unjournalistic remarks to get a lot of publicity before they move to Fox? Helen Thomas was "asked to resign" when she made negative comments about Israel and many people said she was right to leave because she revealed a bias, which makes her reporting de facto unreliable. Same with Rick Sanchez, same with Juan Williams. If you want to have people listen to your opinions, go to Fox.
  • 0 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 9 users disliked this comment
    timt 3 hours ago Report Abuse
    Ya know what really makes me sick is all you GOP freaks on here are crying about Juan not being able to talk his trash on fox and yet you GOP freak Mother F**er's form your little click and try to collapse comments on here that shine the light of truth on your hypocrisy. BTW I only need one handle to deal with you ignorant bigots!!! Bring it cause I know you ain't got it punks!!!!!
  • 0 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 5 users disliked this comment
    timt 3 hours ago Report Abuse
    @holli You have twisted the facts! She did not wish aids on bigot Helms. She said that if there is any retribution for they way Helms acted and talked against people with aids Helms would get aids or one of his family. Helm's believed that everybody that had aids got it through sodomy.The New York Times stated that Helms was 'bitterly opposed to federal financing of AIDS research and treatment'. Opposing the Kennedy-Hatch AIDS bill in 1988, Helms stated, "There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy". When Ryan White died in 1990, his mother went to Congress on behalf of people with AIDS. She spoke to 23 representatives; Helms refused to speak to Jeanne White, even when she was alone with him in an elevator.Opposition by Helms to the Ryan White Care Act did not matter because it passed in 1990. AGAIN CONSERVATIVE TWISTING OF FACTS!!!!
  • 2 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 7 users disliked this comment
    oeddie 4 hours ago Report Abuse
    "I mean, look, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've read about the civil rights movement in this country," I said Monday.
    "But when I get on a plane or I'm walking down the street, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Republican or Tea Party garb and I think, you know, they're identifying themselves first and foremost as Republicans or Tea Party'ers, I get worried. I get nervous."
    I also commented on remarks by Conservative Preacher Jerry Falwell warning Americans that the culture wars are being fought right here in the U.S. against Liberals
    "He said the war with Liberals, the culture war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don't think there's any way to get away from these facts,".
  • 6 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 1 users disliked this comment
    Pat 4 hours ago Report Abuse
    I believe NPR's actions will cost them a bit (maybe more than a bit) in public credibility. The very public that calls in during pledge drives. It will be interesting to see if the public is outraged enough over this political correctness incident to ignore the drives or whether it will ultimately be just a tempest in a teapot. The public (at least in this country) tend to have short memories.
  • 2 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 1 users disliked this comment
    Pat 4 hours ago Report Abuse
    I believe NPR's actions will cost them a bit (maybe more than a bit) in public credibility. The very public that calls in during pledge drives. It will be interesting to see if the public is outraged enough over this political correctness incident to ignore the drives or whether it will ultimately be just a tempest in a teapot. The public (at least in this country) tend to have short memories.
  • 6 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 1 users disliked this comment
    Rickb 4 hours ago Report Abuse
    If anyone bothers to listen to NPR commentaries you will soon learn that it is OK to express any opinion you want as long as it fits into the liberal guidelines, ie that you have to be tolerant of everyone except those who disagree with you such as Nina Totenberg's views on Glen Beck. If she can rant why can't Juan express a "feeling" that is not even an "opinion"? Because NPR is a bastion of political correctness! What really irritates those in charge at NPR is the fact that Juan is a well spoken individual who often makes sense. I do not agree with everything he says just as I don't agree with everything that Beck or Hannity or O'Riley say, but he is articulate and they can't have someone working for them who isn't a slave to liberal ideologies and is believeable.

    By the way people, calling someone names is more a reflection on your own lack of credibility and/or intellect than it is on the people you call names.
  • 5 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 0 users disliked this comment
    boxxers06 4 hours ago Report Abuse
    Expressing how you feel about a situation does not make you a bigot.He did not give an opinion that everyone should follow ,he only stated his feelings. As children we are taught to be cautious. As women are taught to be cautious when walking alone at night. Are women and children bigots because they are cautious about being around certain people."No" and neither is anyone who is cautious about flying with a person in full Muslim guard.They are being cautious as we all were taught.
  • 4 users liked this comment Please sign in to rate this comment up. Please sign in to rate this comment down. 0 users disliked this comment
    boxxers06 4 hours ago Report Abuse
    Expressing how you feel about a situation does not make you a bigot.He did not give an opinion that everyone should follow ,he only stated his feelings. As children we are taught to be cautious. As women are taught to be cautious when walking alone at night. Are women and children bigots because they are cautious about being around certain people."No" and neither is anyone who is cautious about flying with a person in full Muslim guard.They are being cautious as we all were taught.

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