Juan Williams Interview

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Juan Williams, December 2009. Courtesy of Frank Graves

Are you still angry about being fired by NPR? I was upset at the idea of how personal it became. I felt NPR engaged in an ad hominem attack on me.

You say youve been described as a black man with conservative social views. That’s certainly what I heard back from NPR managers who said I didn’t fit the box—“You don’t necessarily represent orthodox black views on the news.” In their mind, when I write about dysfunction in the black community, I’ve crossed the line in terms of being a good black guy.

Have you taken heat from African-Americans who find you not liberal enough? People say, “Why are you airing dirty laundry? Why are you being supportive of a Bill Cosby?”

Do some of your liberal friends resent your being on Fox? Oh, sure. Some people feel that by simply being there I am legitimizing Sean Hannity or conservative viewpoints. Those shows are hit shows whether I’m there or not. Nobody at Fox tells me what to say.

Does this sort of criticism bother you? It bothers me deeply. People who are not able to put me in a box, people who want to tune in to programming that simply affirms their existing opinions, those people are discomfited by me. The idea that you wouldn’t hold black political leaders accountable strikes me as corrupt.

Whos your favorite Republican presidential candidate? I like Tim Pawlenty a lot, but he just hasn’t gained any traction. I have trouble with people like Herman Cain when they say the folks in Tennessee have a right to deny Muslims the right to build a mosque. What’s next, you can’t build a church or a synagogue?

Could the News of the World scandal hurt Fox? I don’t see that it extends into any of the U.S. properties controlled by Rupert Murdoch. For people who don’t like Murdoch and don’t like Fox, people who are the haters, they’re looking for an opportunity to see if this can allow them to bring him down.

Would you like to have your own show? Sure. When TV executives talk to me, they say, “Well, we don’t have any blacks in prime time on cable.” They doubt that black men watch news. They say that black men watch sports and women. I say I think I can appeal to an audience beyond that.

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