Soros donation raises question of fair policies

By Angela Abbamonte

In investigative reporting, journalists know to “follow the money.” Unfortunately, we live in a world where greed runs rampant and people believe a few extra dollars can bring happiness or prestige, and they will do anything to anyone to get the cash.

George Soros, entrepreneur, philanthropist, political activist and billionaire, donated $1.8 million to National Public Radio through his organization Open Society Foundation to provide more coverage of legislatures and “bring greater transparency and accountability to the workings of state capitals across the country.”

Soros has a record of working against conservative politics, and two days after his donation to NPR the media organization fired Senior News Analysist Juan Williams over comments he made on “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Williams is an African-American liberal, someone people may think NPR would boast about, but he is also a regular Fox News contributor. Williams has said he does not “fit in their box. I’m not (a) predictable black liberal.” He claims NPR wanted to get rid of him for speaking candidly to Fox, and they happened to get their excuse when he made comments about Muslims that were, according to an NPR statement, “inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.”

The comments Williams made were not politically correct, and it seems they may have cost him his job.

“Look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country,” Williams told O’Reilly. “But when I get on the 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.”

Later in the interview he made it clear he thinks it is wrong to label all Muslims as “extremists.”

While the initial statement about travelers in “Muslim garb” may not have been wise to say on national television, one might question whether or not it was a serious enough offense to fire someone who served NPR for many years.

Again, follow the money. If someone gave you $1.8 million and one of your employees said something the donor may not agree with or appreciate, would you allow your employee to speak his or her opinion, or would you try to protect that $1.8 million, even at the expense of your employee?

Many have accused NPR of having a liberal bias, and the coupling of Williams’ dismissal and the grant from Soros seem to support that accusation.

The money from Soros is intended to shed light on legislators. If NPR is willing to fire a long-time news analyst, I wonder how many conservative members of Congress will be investigated and how deep NPR reporters will dig in their closets to find skeletons in order to protect such a generous donation.

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