After NPR fired Juan Williams in late October for comments he made about Muslims on Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor,” NPR saw supporters come out of the woodwork to decry right-leaning calls for the radio company to be stripped of government financial support. Interestingly, many of those who voiced their opinion that NPR should keep its government provided cash happen to receive funds from the same source: liberal financier George Soros and his Open Society Institute.
On Sunday, NPR CEO and President Vivian Schiller said she takes the threats to defund NPR “very seriously.” So too, it seems, does Soros, who gave NPR a $1.8 million donation in October and whose Open Society Institute has given money to many of the organizations that have offered a highly-publicized defense of the radio giant.
In a piece on the Huffington Post, Free Press Campaign Director Timothy Karr lambasted the right’s “shenanigans” and said their “gamble here is that their efforts to paint public broadcasting as the voice of encroaching socialism will fire up the passions of some Americans.”
The Free Press’ own passions are fired up by $350,000 over two years from the Open Society Institute.
The New America Foundation also came to NPR’s defense amid calls for the radio station’s defunding. According to the Open Society Institute’s website, the New American Foundation is receiving $200,000 from the Soros project over a two year period.
The New America Foundation founding chairman and the Atlantic magazine’s senior editor James Fallows offered an impassioned defense of NPR saying, “whatever its failings, [NPR is] one of the few current inheritors of the tradition of the ambitious, first-rate news organization.” Fallows also noted the number of bureaus NPR has around the world, a rarity in the journalism world today.
A nearly identical defense of “why we need NPR now more than ever” was offered by New American Foundation fellow and Daily Beast contributor Peter Beinart, who also managed to mock those objecting to NPR’s support from the government for their parochialism and their complaints that NPR doesn’t compete in the free market.
Who else came to NPR’s defense after critics called for radio company’s defunding for dropping Williams? New America Media had a spirited take on the issue, saying NPR should have canned the long-time contributor years ago. NAM also says — in its “about” section — that it wishes to thank the generous contributions of several groups, including the Open Society Institute.
In an e-mail response to The Daily Caller, Beinart said, “I know virtually nothing about which foundations fund New America and even less about which ones fund NPR. I’ve been listening to — and admiring– NPR’s foreign coverage since I was a kid so there’s not much mystery as to why I would defend them.”
On Thursday, NPR’s board of directors will hold its regular meeting, in which Williams’ termination will be finalized. Based on the overwhelming critiques of Schiller’s response to Williams — even from those taking money from the same pool as NPR — it’s not clear yet if she will meet a similar fate in the near future.
The Free Press did not respond for comment.