The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates reported that Juan Williams offered up a non-apology apology for that comment he pulled out of his ass about his fears of an angry, black First Lady.
Williams recently called out Michelle Obama on some fantasy black militancy that apparently only exists somewhere between Williams’ ears. He really didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but shock of shocks, many others did.
NPR’s obudsman Alicia Shephard tried to address the issue and the complaints, many of which that state that Williams’ “dishonors NPR,” but Williams was a tad glib about it all.
When I asked Williams about his comments, he initially called it a “faux controversy.”
But then he reviewed the tape and realized that “the tone and tenor of my comments may have spurred a strong reaction to what I considered to be pure political analysis of the First Lady’s use of her White House pulpit,” said Williams via email. “I regret that in the fast-paced, argumentative format my tone and tenor seems to have led people to see me as attacking instead of explaining my informed point of view.”
When Williams was speaking of Mrs. Obama as a potential liability, he told me, he was referencing pieces in The Atlantic and Politico. A Politico article listed Mrs. Obama as one “Dem” her husband should watch out for. “She’s glamorous, she’s on message, she’s the nation’s favorite mom — and now she has nowhere to go but down,” said the article.
But anyone watching the O’Reilly segment wouldn’t know Williams was talking about those two articles. He never mentioned them. Those who wrote me felt Williams was attacking the First Lady.
“I am concerned about the objectivity Juan Williams brings to his news analysis,” wrote Alison Fowler. “He has made statements on Fox News regarding Michelle Obama that appear to paint her as an angry Black Nationalist without any basis in fact. Despite the fact that these statements were not made on NPR, they undermine his credibility as an impartial news analyst on your network.”
Coates was skeptical of Williams explanation and psuedo-apology in citing The Atlantic article.
I can’t speak for the Politico, but I’ve spent some time with that Atlantic profile (That Tanesha Coates girl, she sho can write!) and I’m not sure how anyone would read it and conclude that Michelle Obama is either Stokely Carmichael in a dress, or someone who’s likely to blame America first. But that’s just me. I’ve been wrong before.
NPR has since asked Williams to stop name dropping them in his appearances on FOX News. They don’t refer to him as a FOX commentator on the radio. I don’t know what this will solve, considering NPR doesn’t seem to have any designs on dumping him.
But they admit, this whole saga has turned into “The Tale of Two Juans” for the network.
“We don’t monitor what Juan says on Fox — or for that matter, his books or other appearances,” said Simon by email. “Juan is one of the foremost chroniclers of the history of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and African-American life…I think the world of Juan, and he is on our show because the analysis that he offers is insightful, reasoned, fair-minded and interesting.”
But after watching the Fox segment, Simon said, “What can I say? That’s not the Juan Williams who is on our show.”
That may be the cause of the criticism. Williams tends to speak one way on NPR and another on Fox.