Meet the Press | October 24, 2010
MR. GREGORY: E.J. Dionne , I have to switch quickly because we only have a couple of minutes left in this segment. Something that you wanted to talk about and has been a big issue this week, Juan Williams being fired as analyst at NPR . The Republicans , you heard Michael Steele talk about it, they're making it a campaign issue saying NPR 's money should be cut. Did NPR do the wrong thing here?
MR. DIONNE: See, I think there are two issues here. The first issue is, NPR is quite simply one of the best news organizations in the world, and anybody who thinks that they are liberal biased, I challenge them to do what a student of mine once did at Georgetown , take a week of transcripts, take a month of transcripts and examine it for political bias. You're not going to find it. Fox News , on the other hand , is a Republican propaganda network that put into circulation the false idea that Obama went to -- President Obama went to a madrassa, and they stoked the tea party . They stoked, not the tea party movement, but the death panels. That's on the one side. On the other side , I think NPR made a mistake in the way they handled this. I was a member of a union for a long time. I think employees, contract employees included, deserve some respect. What they should've said is sat Juan Williams down, he's done a lot of good work for them, and say, "Look, you have a choice here. Look at the context you were on with O'Reilly . You could barely get your points out in the middle of the propaganda. Do you want to work for Fox , that's OK, but -- or you want to work for us, that's OK. But you've got to decide," if I may use Fox's slogan. They should have handled it that way. But this should not be used to run a smear campaign against NPR .
MR. GREGORY: Rick, does this belong in the campaign?
MR. SANTELLI: I think that a company can make any choice from a management-employee standpoint that they wish. I think the one issue I see in here is the funding from the federal government. It's not an issue to me. I think the funding could be an issue, but it's not going to alter the election results in any way. I think what Mr. Brooks is talking about is the issue austerity. We need leadership. You don't sell belt-tightening in fancy commercials. You don't knock your opponent. What you need to do is you need to tell America that you can get behind us, we'll do the right thing , it's going to be a bit painful. The reason Americans aren't buying into it is because they don't trust Congress , and that's the whole epicenter of this election . Maybe we can put some people we trust in. And maybe they're not going to fit the normal mold. That's a good thing. And maybe if we trust them, we'll actually pay higher taxes, and we won't feel bad about it because the outcome will be a better country and we won't be saying, "Opa!" in five years.
MR. GREGORY: Rachel, I, I -- address the Juan Williams issue, too. I want to get your views on that.
MS. MADDOW: On the Juan Williams issue, I think it may be an election issue if Jim DeMint leads the Republicans on this, and the Republicans , like they did with Newt Gingrich in power, decide that they're going to go after Big Bird and they're going to try to make public -- they're going to go after him like they went after the NEA and wage culture war again. On this issue that the American people just need to be told that belt tightening is the right thing, we just need the right politicians, it makes a lot of sense here at MEET THE PRESS . But in the real world , when you talk about the real politicians and what they're actually putting out there...
MR. SANTELLI: Because we haven't had any leaders that can sell the idea.
MS. MADDOW: ...the, the prototypical tea party fiscal conservative candidate, right, is probably Marco Rubio . Marco Rubio 's economic plan right now is to add $3.5 trillion to the deficit. That's what he's proposing. And he's, he's being marketed as the fiscal conservative outsider to do that.
MR. BROOKS: Well, we should mention Chris Christie , the governor of New Jersey , is actually doing it...
MR. SANTELLI: Exactly.
MR. BROOKS: ...and his approval rating has gone up.
REP. FORD: And Ed Rendell ...
MR. GREGORY: Yeah. Go ahead.
REP. FORD: ...the governor of Pennsylvania . And no, I'll answer succinctly, no, NPR should not have fired Juan Williams .
MR. GREGORY: Right.
REP. FORD: If they were going to do it, they should have did it like, like E.J. said.
MR. DIONNE: Should I just say, David and I argue politics on NPR all the time. So I should disclose that. And I would note, I'm a liberal. I'm always countered by David or somebody more conservative than David .
REP. FORD: Is that possible?
MR. DIONNE: Thank God it is.