Wednesday, October 27, 2010

PBS is not NPR



The ombudsman at PBS is earning his salary these days.
Michael Getler is busy trying to inform the misinformed of the nation that PBS is NOT NPR.
Why?
Because there’s an organized backlash against publicly funded broadcasting in the United States as a result of NPR’s firing of Juan Williams as an analyst.
Williams got the ax after he appeared on the Fox News Channel’s O’Reilly report and proclaimed that he gets nervous on flights where fellow passengers are wearing Muslim garb.
As many – including Michael Moore have pointed out – it’s kind of interesting that Williams, a black man, would take that stance. Since he has been fighting the perception that white people should be afraid of black people all his professional life. But I digress.
There are those who think that NPR’s funding should be pulled because Williams is being censored. One Fox News Channel presenter actually suggested that NPR is part of a Muslim jihad designed to stifle critics of Islam!
At any rate, this campaign against NPR has overflowed to one that is targeting PBS as well. While the two may be kissing cousins – NPR stands for National Public Radio, PBS – for the Public Broadcasting System on TELEVISION – they are separate entities.
No matter to those who want to make Williams’ firing a cause célèbre against publicly funded programming. They are targeting PBS as well.
Enter PBS ombudsman Getler, who has penned a column defending HIS network. He writes, in part:
My interest in mentioning this is simply to remind the vast majority of those who wrote to me or called is to explain that PBS is not NPR, that Juan Williams does not work for PBS, that PBS did not fire him, and that both organizations, while part of public broadcasting in this country, are separate organizations and separate public media entities.
As for Williams’ firing: I think NPR missed a great opportunity to advance the discussion about Islamophobia. Forums pitting Williams against a representative of a Muslim organization might have helped clarify the issue. Especially if the Muslim was wearing “Islamic garb.”
But, don’t cry for Williams, America. He had been doing double duty as a Fox News analyst as well. And Fox has rewarded his expanding  celeb by giving him a $2 million contract.
To use his firing as reason to demand the defunding of NPR is bad enough. To expand it to demand that money be pulled from PBS as well is just unfair.

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