Fox News figures have seized on NPR's decision to terminate Juan Williams' contract following controversial comments he made about Muslims on Fox News, and are using the story to continue their war on NPR and call for its defunding. Fox News figures, particularly Bill O'Reilly, have long crusaded against NPR.
Fox News attacks NPR, demands it be defunded
Fox Nation highlights Fox News employees calling for NPR to be defunded. On October 22 Fox Nation highlighted calls from Fox News employees Sara Palin, Newt Gingrich, Bill O'Reilly, and Mike Huckabee's "to defund NPR" as a top news story:
O'Reilly: Schiller "should resign immediately" and there should be "an immediate suspension of all public money going to NPR." On the October 21 broadcast of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly attacked National Public Radio President and CEO Vivian Schiller as a "pinhead"; declared that she "should resign immediately because she is simply not smart enough to run a media company, even if it is NPR"; and called "for an immediate suspension of all public money going to NPR." He added, "No taxpayer dollars should be going to an outfit that abuses freedom of speech."
Hannity accuses NPR of "glaring hypocrisy." On the October 21 broadcast of Fox News' Hannity, Sean Hannity accused NPR of "glaring hypocrisy" in terminating Juan Williams' contract, citing controversial comments made by NPR analyst Nina Totenberg in 1995. He declared that "liberals do not believe in free speech in this country," and went on to say "everybody watching this program contributes to putting NPR on the air." Hannity asked, "Should we defund them?" Fox News contributor Dana Perino said that "it's a small amount of their budget that they get from the American taxpayer but maybe it is time to change that."
Hayes uses Juan Williams story to criticize Corporation for Public Broadcasting. On the October 21 broadcast of Fox News' Special Report, Fox News contributor Steve Hayes discussed NPR's decision to fire Williams and said: "Well, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that oversees this funding for public broadcasting, just requested $495 million for the fiscal year of 2014 in a world where we are running a $13 trillion debt and when you have got 600 satellite channels, you can watch poodle grooming on five of them at any given time. There is absolutely no excuse for taking taxpayer funds for taxpayer funded television."
Fox & Friends accuses NPR of a "record of offensive, bias coverage." On the October 22 broadcast of Fox & Friends, co-hosts Brian Kilmeade, Steve Doocy, and Gretchen Carlson repeatedly aired segments attacking NPR for its decision to terminate Williams' contract, often by accusing NPR of having a "record of offensive, bias coverage" and of having employees with "histor[ies] of intolerance." Fox & Friends said NPR is "partially funded with taxpayer dollars, and now some members of Congress are saying that possibly NPR should be defunded as a result of how they treated Juan Williams." Kilmeade asked viewers to weigh in on whether NPR should receive taxpayer dollars, "especially in light of what we now know they've done in the past" and what happened with Williams.
Fox -- led by O'Reilly -- has history of attacking of NPR, calling for defunding of NPR and public broadcasting
O'Reilly: "[S]hould NPR be called the National Propaganda Radio Network?" On the January 7, 2002, edition of his show (accessed via Nexis), O'Reilly asked if NPR should "be called the National Propaganda Radio Network." He later stated that "[t]he federal government gives [NPR] approximately $3 million in tax money each year. But for my money, NPR is an exclusionary, politically correct propaganda machine not at all interested in free speech."
O'Reilly suggested NPR is "censoring right-wing voices"; hosted Cal Thomas to bash NPR. On the May 20, 2002, edition of his show (accessed via Nexis), O'Reilly said that NPR "may be censoring right-wing voices, even though NPR gets close to $3 million a year in tax money, and much of that coming from right-wing voices." He hosted Fox News contributor Cal Thomas, who in O'Reilly's words, was "sacked" by NPR. Thomas later stated that "[m]ost of the news" at NPR "is filtered through the liberal prism, meaning bigger government is good, higher taxes to soak those terrible rich, successful are good. Gays are basically good. We ought to have gay rights for everybody. All feminist issues are true and correct." Thomas later stated that NPR is "[v]ery pro Palestinian."
Van Susteren asks O'Reilly, "Do we need to be spending taxpayer money" on PBS, NPR? On the December 5, 2002, edition of On the Record (accessed via Nexis), host Greta Van Susteren and O'Reilly discussed taxpayer funding of PBS and NPR. Van Susteren then asked O'Reilly, "Do we need, though -- do we need to be spending taxpayer money like that?" O'Reilly replied: "No, no. It's an outrage. It's -- it's ridiculous, particularly because PBS and NPR have a very, very tight agenda, which does not reflect many, many of the taxpayers' sentiments." O'Reilly later stated: "Why should we be paying this stuff? I mean, we're in a -- you know, the government doesn't have enough money anyway. We should cut out all of this stuff. We don't need it."
Mike Gallagher: "Liberals ... figured out how to get the federal government" to pay for NPR. On the February 17, 2003, edition of Hannity & Colmes (accessed via Nexis), Fox News contributor Mike Gallagher stated: "Liberals have had talk radio for years. It's called NPR. And, Sean, they even figured out how to get the federal government to pay for it." Co-host Sean Hannity replied, "Exactly." Gallagher then stated, "Unlike you and me who have to work for it."
O'Reilly asked, "How much longer do I have to pay for this outfit which is so blatantly unfair?" On the October 8, 2003, edition of his show (accessed via Nexis), O'Reilly discussed public funding of NPR and asked Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), "How much longer do I have to pay for this outfit which is so blatantly unfair, and uses it's power to, you know, advance left-wing and defamatory causes? What do I have to pay for this?" Stearns replied: "Well, I think you and the American taxpayers don't have to pay for it much longer. ... So the question for taxpayers and the elected officials have to say why do we have to fund NPR, particularly in light of, for example, the interview you did," referring to a confrontational interview that NPR did with O'Reilly.
O'Reilly: "Let's get [NPR] off the dole, right, and save money for the taxpayers." On the November 7, 2003, edition his show (accessed via Nexis), O'Reilly reported on a $200 million donation to NPR and then asked Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY): "So look, $200 million. Let's get them off the dole, right, and save money for the taxpayers."
O'Reilly promoted GOP congressman's investigation of Corporation for Public Broadcasting. On May 1, 2003, (accessed via Nexis) O'Reilly hosted Rep. Bill Tauzin (R-LA) to discuss his committee's investigation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides funds to NPR. O'Reilly asked Tauzin, "So, if you find out that they haven't been fair and balanced, are you going to pull the dough?"
O'Reilly: "NPR and PBS should stop taking government money and compete in the media marketplace." On the October 20, 2003, edition of his show (accessed via Nexis), O'Reilly said that "NPR presents a progressive international and generally left leaning point of view. That's fine with me." He later declared: "But once again, it is not fine with me to have to pay for this. NPR and PBS should stop taking government money and compete in the media marketplace."
Kondracke, Krauthammer call for end to government funding of public broadcasting. On the May 9, 2005, edition of Special Report (accessed via Nexis), Fox News contributor Mort Kondracke stated that "there is no reason why the government" should be funding public broadcasting, saying that "it is time for PBS to be, quote, unquote, 'liberated.'" Later in the show, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer stated: "I think that this is a completely obsolete idea of having a publicly funded network in an age of 500 cable channels" He added, "It's completely skewed politically, and it deserves a quiet, honorable death."
Pinkerton: "PBS has been the biggest inside joke for the left all along." On the November 19, 2005, edition of Fox News Watch (accessed via Nexis), Fox News contributor Jim Pinkerton said that "PBS has been the biggest inside joke for the left all along."
Beck calls NPR "state-run radio." On the August 26, 2009, edition of his Fox News show (accessed via Nexis), Glenn Beck stated that "[o]ur diversity czar has just proposed that radio companies pay 100 percent of their operating budget yearly" and that "[t]hat 100 percent tax would then be transferred to the state-run radio of NPR."
Hannity: NPR "is using your tax dollars yet again to showcase their liberal bias." Discussing syndicated columnist Mark Fiore's satirical animated video about the tea party posted on NPR's website, Hannity stated on his January 5 show (accessed via Nexis) that "National Public Radio is using your tax dollars yet again to showcase their liberal bias. Now in a new Web video NPR attacks the tea party movement. Now here's a portion of the 'Learn to Speak Tea Bag' video lesson. Keep in mind, you paid for this." After airing a clip of the video, Hannity said, "[W]e have NPR using your money to slam Americans who have the courage to voice their opinion."
O'Reilly: "The only problem is my money, your money, some of it's going to NPR. ... . And if it's going to be a left-wing Jihadist deal, I think that's wrong." Discussing the animated tea party cartoon on the January 6 edition of his show (accessed via Nexis), O'Reilly stated: "The only problem is my money, your money, some of it's going to NPR. Not a lot, but some of it. And if it's going to be a left-wing Jihadist deal, I think that's wrong. That's all."
Beck attacks NPR over Open Society Foundations grant. On the October 19 edition of his show (accessed via Nexis), Beck attacked NPR after it received a grant from George Soros' Open Society Foundations. Beck stated: "Soros' Open Society Institute just announced for you $1.8 million to add 100 journalists at NPR radio stations across the country. The only good thing here is at least George Soros is now just buying the reporters out in the open. So, that's great."