Do I think NPR kept Williams on for years, as the relationship degraded, because he is a black man? Absolutely. Williams’ presence on air was a fig-leaf for much broader and deeper diversity problems at the network. NPR needs to hire more black men in house on staff as part of adding diverse staff across many ethnicities and races. It also needs, broadly, a diversity upgrade that doesn’t just focus on numbers, but on protocols for internal communication. Among the revelations in this incident is that the Vice President of News fired Williams by phone without giving him the opportunity to come into the office and discuss it.
After I was let go from hosting an African-American issues show at NPR, I walked away relatively quietly, though with a series of questions about how power was allocated and shared at the network, and whether diversity truly mattered to management. Although the focus right now is on whether NPR should be defunded (God no!), I would like to see a little more light shine on how NPR deals with diversity. It has a new diversity czar, Keith Woods, and I hope he is empowered to look at the issue broadly and respected by management.
I also hope that NPR continues to support its programming that does feature diverse voices, including Michel Martin’s Tell Me More (which had a great, honest roundtable about Williams) and acquired/partner programming like the fantastic on-the-road/town-hall show State of the Re:Union by Al Letson.
This country needs NPR, now more than ever. But it needs an NPR and media, broadly, that are adventurous rather than expedient when it comes to reporting on a divided America, and cultivating the most diverse staff, and audience.” —NewBlackMan: What Everyone Is Missing About NPR’s WilliamsGate
10 things that the public thinks it knows but political scientists haven’t been able to prove. They are:
1. Money buys the votes of the general public. (Maybe savvy donors just donate to candidates who will win in the hopes of influencing them.)
2. Money buys the votes of elected legislators. (Maybe savvy donors just donate to candidates who will vote the way they would like, and not to those who would not.)
3. Parties influence the votes of elected legislators. (Maybe politicians just sort themselves into the parties they agree with in the first place.)
4. Some candidates are just better campaigners than others.
5. Democracy leads to economic growth. (Maybe economic growth enables democracy. Or maybe they are spuriously related.)
6. Autocracy leads to economic growth. (Maybe economic performance enables dictators to hold onto power.)
7. The media is biased. (Maybe they are just trying to tell us what they think we want to hear.)
8. Voters make choices based on their own self-interest. (Maybe they rationalize their choices in this way.)
9. Voters choose the candidate that is closer to their own preferences.
10. People are more likely to vote when they think the election will be close.
To be sure, the fact that political scientists haven’t been able to prove any of these things doesn’t mean they aren’t true. They haven’t disproved them, either. But it does mean that the evidence isn’t as strong and the case isn’t as clear as we commonly assume.
On Obama listening to Lil Wayne. The artist mentioned above is Shakespeare, btw