Since NPR terminated Juan Williams' contract, numerous conservative media figures, led by Fox News hosts, have suggested -- citing no evidence whatsoever -- that the firing is related to a recent $1.8 million donation to NPR from Open Society Foundations, a philanthropy started by George Soros.
NPR terminates Williams' contract following his Fox comment about Muslims
On October 17, The New York Times reported that NPR received “a $1.8 million grant from Open Society Foundations to begin a project called the Impact of Government that will allow NPR member stations to add at least 100 journalists in all 50 states over the next three years.”
On October 18, then-NPR news analyst and current Fox contributor Juan Williams appeared on Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor to discuss recent comments O'Reilly made regarding Muslims on The View. During the conversation, Williams said:
Look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.
On October 20, NPR fired Williams, stating that he had made several statements that violate NPR's ground rules for news analysts during his tenure there.
Fox News hosts promote conspiracy theory that Soros' NPR donation linked to Williams' firing
Beck: “Is it a coincidence” that NPR donation came same week as Williams' firing? Glenn Beck linked Open Society's donation to Williams' firing repeatedly on October 21, both on his radio program and television show. On his radio broadcast, he told listeners, “George Soros is now giving $1.8 million to NPR to fund investigative journalists. ...Your media is being taken over by the ultimate special interest groups -- the Tides Foundation and George Soros.” On his television show, he argued that it couldn't be “a coincidence” that Williams was fired by an organization receiving funds from Soros. From the October 21 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
BECK: Is it a coincidence that on the day that George Soros gives Media Matters a million dollars to boycott me, to intimidate Fox -- George Soros, who also gives $1.8 million to NPR, Juan Williams' employer. On the same day he issues this statement, they fire Juan Williams? Is that a coincidence? Really? Look, this is what the First Amendment is for.
Beck's The Blaze: “Should Soros-backed NPR lose public funding?” An October 21 article on Beck's website, The Blaze, claims that Williams' firing was ideologically motivated and suggests that Open Society's donation “raises serious questions about the integrity of NPR's reporting.” From the article:
Yet NPR's boldness may be for another reason: its reporting style and ideological stances have caught the eye of liberal financier George Soros. Earlier this week, Soros's Open Society Foundations donated $1.8 million to NPR. That money will fund the hiring of 100 journalists “to bring greater transparency and accountability to the workings of state capitals across the country.”
With funders such as Soros, public funding may be unnecessary.
Yet that funding raises serious questions about the integrity of NPR's reporting. Soros's funding is historically linked to liberal organizations throughout the country, including Media Matters, the Tides Foundation, Democracy Alliance, Moveon.org, and the Center for American Progress.
Also, the fact that NPR's firing of Williams comes during a week when Soros-funded Media Matters and the Tides foundation are calling on advertisers to boycott Fox News and Glenn Beck, has not gone unnoticed.
O'Reilly: “You telling me that this guy isn't pulling the strings over there at NPR?” On his October 21 Fox News program, Bill O'Reilly had Juan Williams on The O'Reilly Factor to discuss Williams' firing. He spent much of the show pushing the theory that Soros was behind NPR's decision. From the October 21 edition of The O'Reilly Factor:
WILLIAMS: You were exactly right when you said, you know what this comes down to, they were looking for a reason to get rid of me because I appear on Fox News.
O'REILLY: They were looking! Right!
WILLIAMS: They don't want me talking to you.
O'REILLY: That's right. And here's backup. Here's backup. The Media Matters group, OK, which Soros gave a million to in addition to the million-eight -- and we'll get to that with Rove in a moment. They called today for Mara Liasson, who's a Fox News analyst, to be fired from NPR as well. You telling me that this guy isn't pulling the strings over there at NPR? One-eight? He gives them one-eight, and then a week later you are gone?
WILLIAMS: Come on, money talks.
O'REILLY: You bet.
WILLIAMS: You know, he's the puppeteer.
O'REILLY: Wake up and smell the corruption.
O'Reilly continued to push this theory during a conversation with Karl Rove later in the program, saying that Soros is the “Godfather of the radical left” and “is trying to intimidate people on the other side of the political spectrum,” charging that Soros is “buying up the media.”
Hannity: With “NPR getting ... 1.8 million from Soros,” isn't the bigger issue “that liberals do not believe in free speech?” On his October 21 Fox News program, host Sean Hannity also embraced the Soros conspiracy theory on his program, Hannity, charging that “liberals do not believe in free speech.” From the October 21 edition of Hannity:
HANNITY: This firing is beyond the pale, and I think this is -- there's a very large issue we've got to address here that I want to get to the heart of. We have NPR getting, what, 1.8 million from Soros? Media Matters, which has groups of people whose sole job is to monitor every conservative in this country, Bob, if they say one word, one phrase, one sentence, they want to attack their advertisers, they want to get them fired. Isn't that the bigger issue here, is that liberals do not believe in free speech in this country?
Doocy: “Soros got what he was paying for...a head on his wall belonging to Juan Williams.” On Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy talked about Williams' firing and linked it to the $1.8 million donation to NPR. From the October 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
DOOCY: Brian, you just mentioned George Soros, the lefty trillionaire -- billionaire. George Soros gave $1.8 million to NPR recently. George Soros also gave Media Matters $1 million, and their whole intent is to discredit and destroy Fox News. Well, this week George Soros got what he was paying for, got what he wanted. He got a head on his wall belonging to Juan Williams.
Right-wing radio, print, online media echo connection between Soros' donation and Williams' firing
Rush Limbaugh: “Could it well be that Soros had a hand here?” On his October 21 radio show, Rush Limbaugh tried to link the Open Society donation to Williams' firing: “Could it well be that Soros had a hand here? I mean, it is awfully coincidental -- Soros gives them a million bucks to hire reporters, and then the next day Juan Williams is gone for something he said on Fox.”
Wash. Times editorial: Firing looks “suspicious” coming “on the heels of a $1.8 million grant” from Soros group. An October 21 Washington Times editorial called Williams' firing “suspicious” for taking place the same week that NPR received the donation from Open Society Foundations. From the editorial:
Mr. Williams has a reputation as a thoughtful liberal whose views go beyond the usual Democratic Party-approved talking points, and he's earned deserved respect beyond those who were predisposed to agree with him. But it was no secret that NPR management was uncomfortable with Mr. Williams' appearances on Fox News. In 2009, the taxpayer-subsidized operation demanded that Mr. Williams stop being identified as a “senior correspondent for NPR” when appearing on “The O'Reilly Factor.” This incident was a useful pretext for management to engage in some ideological cleansing. The firing looks even more suspicious coming as it does hard on the heels of a $1.8 million grant from ultraliberal sock puppeteer George Soros.
Newsmax article: “A Soros Connection to Juan Williams Firing?” An October 21 Newsmax article states, “National Public Radio's firing of political pundit Juan Williams for comments he made on Fox News has raised speculation that liberal NPR patron George Soros may have influenced the media organization's decision to ax Williams on Wednesday.” From the article:
Soros has made large donations to NPR and other left-leaning media over the years.
And this week it was revealed that the billionaire currency titan is giving $1 million to liberal Media Matters in what he says is an attempt to stop the growing popularity of Fox News.
Fox News' Glenn Beck has been outspoken in his criticism of Soros for influencing journalism through huge donations to NPR and other left-leaning media.
Beck said on Tuesday that Soros' Open Society Institute was giving $1.8 million to add journalists at NPR radio stations across the country.
WND's Farah: Firing “suggests a totalitarian mindset” at NPR that isn't surprising “given the additional support it receives from George Soros.” In his October 22 column, headlined “Juan Williams' 1st Amendment Rights,” WorldNetDaily editor and CEO Joseph Farah claimed that NPR fired Williams for ideological reasons, partly basing this claim on the donation from Open Society. From Farah's commentary:
Now, I don't know Juan Williams personally, but I have always respected him as a thoughtful liberal commentator. I disagree with him on most issues. On this one, as an American of Arabic heritage, I couldn't agree more. Obviously, his statement is one that represents the sentiment of the vast majority of Americans. NPR, which exists only because of forcibly extracted taxpayer money, is not only “censoring,” in the truest sense of the word, not only what its commentators say on its programs, but also what they say on other programs.
This is a very big deal and suggests a totalitarian mindset is very much in control of NPR -- not surprising given the additional support it receives from George Soros.
This isn't just about Juan Williams, who can take care of himself and fight his own battles. This is literally about free speech in America.