Daily Archives: October 21, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different

Published October 21, 2010

OK, so it’s not quite a photo but a series of moving photos. This timely video from Marty Walsh on Flickr is the Hubbub Photo of the Day. (Head over to Flickr to watch it.)

Shaquille O’Neal — The Big Shamrock, The Green Monster, The Governor of Shaqachusetts — posed as a statue in Harvard Square today. And people messed with him.

Walsh added the video to WBUR’s Flickr group. Add your own work and you might see it featured on wbur.org.

Stations Inundated With Complaints About Williams’ Firing

Published October 21, 2010

WBUR has received more than 30 calls and a slew hundreds of e-mails from listeners to complain about the firing of NPR news analyst Juan Williams, and three people have received refunds for their donations.

That number might not sound like a lot, but it is meaningful — rarely do people make good on threats to cancel their support.

Member stations around the country — many of them in the middle of fundraising this week — live on the front lines. We get credit and, in this case, blame for NPR’s decisions. Many listeners don’t understand the distinction between the member station (WBUR) and the network (NPR).

WBUR, of course, played no part in the decision to fire Williams.

NPR has created a special website for member stations with talking points, contact information for media and listener inquiries and a link to NPR’s ethics guidelines.

NPR says it is so inundated with complaints, the NPR.org “Contact Us” page has crashed.

The Latest:

Williams has signed a 3-year, $2 million contract with Fox News.

The AP has a full accounting of what went down, including remarks from the CEO in Atlanta today:

NPR CEO Vivian Schiller said that controversial opinions should not come from NPR reporters or news analysts and that whatever feelings Williams has about Muslims should be between him and “his psychiatrist or his publicist.”

Speaking Thursday at the Atlanta Press Club, Schiller also said Williams had veered from journalistic ethics several times before Monday’s comments.

Update: Schiller has apologized for the “psychiatrist” remark.

Williams re-appeared on Fox News today to respond to his firing:

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The Snap Judgments We Make About ‘Other’ People

Published October 21, 2010

“When someone starts a statement by saying ‘I am not a bigot’,” writes Hubbub commenter Catherine Bracy, “something bigoted is probably about to come out of their mouth.”

That’s how Juan Williams began the sentence that would get him fired at NPR.

What if our biases, our judgments, our conclusions about other people are deeply set? What if our prejudice is wired in and we don’t even know it?

[pullquote]Project Implicit is an experiment that might surprise or even frustrate you.[/pullquote]

Project Implicit is an interactive Harvard experiment that might surprise or even frustrate you.

Pick a category — say, “Arab-Muslim/Other People”  — and a series of names appears. You have to quickly identify each name as either “Arab-Muslim” or “Other People.” Then a series of words and emotions appear. You must quickly identify each as either “Bad” or “Good.” I won’t spoil the rest.

“It is well known that people don’t always ‘speak their minds’, and it is suspected that people don’t always ‘know their minds’,” the website says. “Understanding such divergences is important to scientific psychology.”

Indeed, when Williams said on Fox News that he gets “nervous” when he sees people on a plane in Muslim garb, he wasn’t exactly bragging about it. He was trying to identify his built-in biases. A lot of viewers — rightly or wrongly — perceived his comments as hateful speech.

Take a test. Pick any category. Do the results surprise you? Share your reactions in the comments.

Why Lisa Allen Is Speaking Out Now

Published October 21, 2010

Howard Friedman, the Boston civil-rights lawyer, told WBUR he recently got a call from Lisa Allen out of the blue — he hadn’t heard from her in some 15 years, when he represented her in a civil suit against the Wareham Police Department.

Candidate Jeff Perry (AP)

Candidate Jeff Perry (AP)

“She just felt she couldn’t remain silent anymore,” Friedman said on Morning Edition.

Allen settled the case out of court. Yesterday, she dropped a political bombshell when she broke a long silence to condemn Jeff Perry, a Republican running to represent the 10th Congressional district.

In 1991, Perry was a Wareham police sergeant. He supervised a police officer who later pleaded guilty to illegally strip-searching Allen, who was 14 at the time.

“(Perry) had to hear me screaming and crying,” she said in the statement.

Why does Allen speak now, with less than two weeks before a close election? Did Perry’s Democratic rival, William Keating, play any part?

“Lisa has been under pressure from the press, who’ve been contacting her, and from her family to make a statement,” Friedman said.

“This has upset her from that time to this time. Seeing this story in the press is upsetting. Seeing that Jeff Perry has not really admitted what happened is upsetting to her.”

Make no mistake, Friedman said: Lisa Allen wants Perry to lose the election.

Keating said he has had no contact with Allen, and a campaign spokesman said no one has had any contact with anyone connected to Allen.

Records show Friedman, the lawyer, has donated money to Democratic campaigns and causes. Friedman said the implication is “outrageous,” noting that he has represented Ralph Nader, “who, I can tell you, the Democrats do not like.”

Perry was never disciplined or charged in the 1991 incident. “I heard nothing that night, and if I did, I would have acted right away,” Perry said yesterday.

Editor’s note: I have changed the headline — which was previously phrased as a question — to avoid the suggestion that I’m drawing a conclusion or taking sides.

Unemployment Rate Falls To 16-Month Low

Published October 21, 2010

The AP reports:

The Massachusetts unemployment rate dropped to 8.4 percent last month from 8.8 percent in August, the steepest month-to-month decline since 1976.

That’s the lowest level in 16 months and lower than the nationwide rate of 9.6 percent.

But the Massachusetts economy lost 21,000 jobs in September, probably due to the end of the tourist season.

Twitterer @Rarrarrar reminds us: “that’s a padded rate, only taking into acct. people claiming benefits. There are TONS of people w/o jobs not claiming.”

As I wrote yesterday, the Fed’s Beige Book for New England reports “more of the same” cautious optimism.

Thursday Mid-Morning: New Globe Suitors; Job Opening At Suffolk

Published October 21, 2010

What’s news on a crisp Thursday morning in Boston:

The president of Suffolk University suddenly retired. “David Sargent, whose unusually high compensation and abrupt contract extension sparked a campus outcry last year, will retire immediately.” (Globe)

Rep. Barney Frank is donating $200,000 to his own campaign, “citing the need to defend himself against an expected ‘flood of right-wing attack ads’ by conservative organizations in support of his Republican rival, Sean Bielat.” (Washington Post)

Congressional candidate Jeff Perry denies new accusations in the strip-search case. On Wednesday, Lisa Allen released a statement condemning Perry for his role as a police sergeant in an illegal strip search almost 20 years ago. (WBUR)

Investors will make an offer on the Boston Globe. “The company, 2100 Trust, said in a statement (Wednesday) that it is putting together a community-focused investor group to submit a letter of intent to buy the New England Media Group — a division of the New York Times Co. — which includes the Globe and all its properties. (Herald)

A worker was stabbed outside of the MIT student center. It was not fatal. (The Tech)

Ron Wilburn, the FBI informant in the Chuck Turner corruption trial, could testify today. WBUR’s David Boeri is in federal court. (More here and here.)

NPR Fires Juan Williams Over Muslim Remarks

Published October 21, 2010

NPR terminated its contract with longtime senior news analyst Juan Williams after comments he made about Muslims and terrorism on Fox News.

On Monday, Williams appeared on the “O’Reilly Factor” with Bill O’Reilly.

Juan Williams (Stephen Voss/NPR)

Juan Williams (Stephen Voss/NPR)

“Look, Bill, I’m not a bigot,” Williams said. “You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. 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.”

In a memo, NPR President Vivian Schiller said Williams’ comments were “inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a News Analyst with NPR.”

Williams has not commented to other news organizations on his firing.

The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan says Williams is a bigot: “The literal defense of anti-Muslim bigotry on Fox is becoming endemic. It’s disgusting.”

Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin condemned the firing. “Government-funded NPR has apparently caved into left-wing attack dogs on the Internet,” she writes.

Choire Sicha of The Awl writes: “Whenever I get on a plane and see that I’m surrounded by midwestern women in pantsuits, I get totally nervous, because I know that they’re going to yack my ear off about their kids and pets.”

I am trying to find raw footage of the O’Reilly interview. The longest clip I am able to find was re-aired today on MSNBC, interspersed with commentary:

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