NPR's Williams on immigration protesters: "These kids don't know anything"
Research ››› ››› SIMON MALOY
On the March 29 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, NPR senior correspondent Juan Williams roundly dismissed student protestors in Los Angeles who were among the hundreds of thousands of protesters in cities nationwide demonstrating against legislation set to impose harsher penalties on illegal immigrants. Williams said: "These kids don't know anything."
Apparently ignoring the admonishment of NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin, NPR senior correspondent Juan Williams roundly dismissed student protestors in Los Angeles, who were among the hundreds of thousands of protesters in cities nationwide demonstrating against legislation set to impose harsher penalties on illegal immigrants, saying on the March 29 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
WILLIAMS: These kids don't know anything. ... A lot of these are poor kids, struggling along in those schools and struggling to gain some sense of identity, so they're going to wave the Mexican flag because they feel somehow they are fighting for Mexicans living in the United States. And they're even going to get into crazy arguments about whether California should truly belong to the Mexico or the United States -- all kinds of stupidity.
When host Bill O'Reilly asked Williams if he thought "these kids [were] being used to some extent," Williams responded: "There's no question. Without a doubt." Williams made his comments despite Dvorkin's admonishment -- previously noted by Media Matters for America -- that "NPR reporters have an obligation to stay reportorial" and not offer "personal opinions on programs that are looking to appear fair and balanced by hauling in someone from NPR to be the token lefty."
From the March 29 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: Continuing now with our lead story: the consequences of rampant illegal immigration. With about 12 million illegals already here, and about 75 percent of them Hispanic and millions more on the way, what will America look like 10 years from now? Joining us now from Washington with analysis on that is Juan Williams.
Before I get to that bigger picture, what did you think when you watched the Los Angeles demonstrations particularly and you saw these kids holding the Mexican flags? What -- what did you think about that?
WILLIAMS: Well, these kids don't know anything. ... [A] lot of kids, you know, poor kids, [are] struggling along in those schools and ... struggling to gain some sense of identity, so they're going to wave the Mexican flag because they feel somehow they are fighting for Mexicans living in the United States. And they're even going to get into crazy arguments about whether or not California should truly belong to Mexico or the United States -- all kinds of stupidity.
But those are kids, Bill. I mean, kids who are -- I mean, they use kids during the civil rights era as demonstrators. The kids know nothing, but at their heart, they feel like they're giving a voice to what their uncles, their aunties, you know, some people who are illegal in this country who may never have a voice against the Minutemen and the far right wing that wants to throw everybody out.
O'REILLY: So, you think these kids are being used to some extent?
WILLIAMS: There's no question. Without a doubt. They're kids. They don't know the intricacies.
As Media Matters for America noted, Williams's colleague, NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson, has similarly opined as a member of the "All-Star Panel" on Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume. By offering their personal opinions on Fox News, Williams and Liasson have apparently disregarded Dvorkin's criticism. Dvorkin, who appeared on the February 16 edition of WAMU's The Kojo Nnamdi Show, addressed this specific issue:
NNAMDI: On to [caller] in Silver Spring, MD. [Caller], you're on the air, go ahead please.
CALLER: Hi. Longtime listener. Thank you very much for my -- taking my call. What I wanted to ask, I was -- on a follow-up to another caller, who asked about the left-leaning of the NPR -- I've been in many houses over the years, and listened, with my customers -- I'm a contractor, and I'm sure that there are some of them listening now -- and, I've always been impressed with the juxtaposition of The Diane Rehm Show on her Friday night -- Friday roundup, and the Fox News Sunday show. And the Fox News lineup has three or four very right-wing people and then they have their token Juan Williams there to really spark the show. And Diane Rehm does the same thing. She has two or three people who agree with her, 80, 90 percent of the time, and then they have somebody like [Weekly Standard editor] Billy Kristol there to again spark it up and give them --
NNAMDI: Here's Jeffrey Dvorkin.
DVORKIN: Well, I mean, you raise a really important issue, which is: Should NPR journalists appear on highly partisan programs on -- in other media? And I think they shouldn't, actually. I think that NPR reporters have an obligation to stay reportorial, and not be asked for their personal opinions by programs that are looking to appear fair and balanced by hauling in someone from NPR to be the token lefty. I think it's a disservice to NPR, and I think it's a disservice to NPR listeners to ask NPR reporters to be in that role, and I have suggested to management on a number of occasions at NPR that we need to, if -- if -- if our people are going to be on those programs, they have to remain reportorial at all times, so that if they're asked, "Bill Clinton: guilty or guilty?" The proper answer is to say, "I don't know, but here's what we've been reporting," and to stay in that role.