TaylorCarr.com Juan Williams

Juan Williams

Posted in Featured Post, In the News on Friday, October 22nd, 2010 at 1:53 pm No Comments

You’ve no doubt followed the Juan Williams/NPR debacle. Sadly, “debacle” is not too strong a word in this case.

I’ve been a fan of Juan Williams since I heard him speak in Little Rock about ten years ago. He was at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, talking about his book, Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary. Since then I’ve listened to him on NPR as he’s provided what I’ve always thought was a measured and even-handed perspective on important issues.

In the last few years I was aware he was on FOX News too, which I thought provided an interesting, uh, juxtaposition of perceived views. And I think it’s critical to stress perceived views, because I always saw Williams as a guy who played things down the middle. It was like FOX was able to use an analyst from the left without having to air any left-leaning opinions – at least not from Juan Williams.

It’s probably worth noting that Williams’ role on FOX was that of analyst. His job wasn’t to editorialize on issues, though that distinction – between analysis and commentary – is lost on most people.

Anyway, Williams’ presence on FOX was actually a win for NPR, since it gave a conservative audience a chance to see one of the network’s most popular stars at work. Now I’m afraid that by firing Williams, NPR has reinforced a widely held – and largely inaccurate – stereotype.

Our instinct is always to get ahead of the story and “get something out there.” The great communication/PR lesson here is that immediate action isn’t always best.

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