NPR’s CEO Vivian Schiller was quoted in USA Today that the “network’s reporters and news analysts should not express opinions.” Excuse me? News analysts are not to express opinions? I really don’t think that is what she meant as it seems to me rather obvious that news analysis consists of nothing but opinions. I think she meant to say that reporters and news analysts are not to express opinions contrary to what she considers appropriate. If Mr. Williams had said that he thinks anyone who says they are afraid to ride on an airplane with passengers in Muslim garb is a racist I’m quite certain that opinion would have been perfectly fine with Ms. Schiller.
The political correctness of this reaction and his firing is really quite stunning. The fact that Fox now turns around and hires him with a handsome contract is a sign of the continuing polarization that is poisoning our public discourse. For every action, a reaction–so I must pin the blame for the action on NPR and the reaction on Fox.
As the USA Today article about Williams points out, CNN fired Rick Sanchez and Octavia Nasr for voicing personal opinions in other forums other than CNN. You may be free to speak in this country, but that freedom is certainly not free and may be very expensive. It’s part of the openness and transparency in our hyper-connected world that makes what you do or say in one part of your life so connected to all of your life. It’s kind of ironic that this kind of transparency is forcing people to be ever more cautious about expressing opinions, particularly if they violate current standards of political correctness.