NPR vs Juan Williams: Unecessary Firing Lines

Over the last week, I’ve been royally upset of both columnist/commentator Juan Williams and National Public Radio for their childlike antics as well as tact that both have displayed while trying to resuscitate their respectable careers. NPR has always raised the bar on providing credible and accurate news and analysis from all over the globe and has never strayed from the truth in providing dialogue from all viewpoints. But as the country has taken sides with Mr. Williams, lets not forget why he was terminated in the first place.

Williams, a black conservative, was a news analyst for National Public Radio. In a move by NPR’s management citing: “repeated violations of its guidelines;” is still in the middle of a media whirlwind. Including yesterday’s written apology for the way they handled the former commentator’s departure. In a letter release yesterday from NPR CEO Vivian Schiller, she acknowledged that “reasonable people can disagree about timing,” but didn’t back down on her and the network’s position on William’s firing.

Here’s the letter in it’s entirety courtesy of Politico.com:

 

Dear Program Colleagues,

I want to apologize for not doing a better job of handling the termination of our relationship with news analyst Juan Williams. While we stand firmly behind that decision, I regret that we did not take the time to prepare our program partners and provide you with the tools to cope with the fallout from this episode. I know you all felt the reverberations and are on the front lines every day responding to your listeners and talking to the public

This was a decision of principle, made to protect NPR’s integrity and values as a news organization. Juan Williams’ comments on Fox News last Monday were the latest in a series of deeply troubling incidents over several years. In each of those instances, he was contacted and the incident was discussed with him. He was explicitly and repeatedly asked to respect NPR’s standards and to avoid expressing strong personal opinions on controversial subjects in public settings, as that is inconsistent with his role as an NPR news analyst. After this latest incident, we felt compelled to act. I acknowledge that reasonable people can disagree about timing: whether NPR should have ended its relationship with Juan Williams earlier, on the occasion of other incidents; or whether this final episode warranted immediate termination of his contract.

In any event, the process that followed the decision was unfortunate – including not meeting with Juan Williams in person – and I take full responsibility for that. We have already begun a thorough review of all aspects of our performance in this instance, a process that will continue in the coming days and weeks. We will also review and re-articulate our written ethics guidelines to make them as clear and relevant as possible for our acquired show partners, our staff, Member stations and the public.

The news and media world is changing swiftly and radically; traditional standards and practices are under siege. This requires us to redouble our attention to how we interpret and live up to our values and standards. We are confident that NPR’s integrity and dedication to the highest values in journalism and our commitment to serving as a national forum for the respectful discussion of diverse ideas will continue to earn the support of a growing audience.

I stand by my decision to end NPR’s relationship with Juan Williams, but deeply regret the way I handled and explained it. You have my pledge that the NPR team and I will reflect on all aspects of our actions, and strive to improve them in the future.

Please feel free to share your concerns and suggestions.

 

Respectfully,

 

Vivian Schiller

 

As a journalist, I see how this incident was blown way out of proportion. In fact, Williams’ comments are tame compared to what his other right-wing contemporaries like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Bill O’Reilly have said in the past. But what he said doesn’t give him a pass to say just anything. NPR put Juan in his place and released him from the network. In my opinion, Williams was very irresponsible for making those comments about Muslims. The comments were insensitive, racist, and something that wasn’t appropriate. Don’t get me wrong, Juan, like me and the hundreds of thousands of columnists and analysts, have a right to their own opinion as stated in the Constitution, but there is a fine line between ignorance and facts. This is the same thing that got former CNN commentator Rick Sanchez fired last month for saying “all jews run and control the media.”Again, where did Sanchez get his facts? Two, how stupid can Rick Sanchez be? That’s like me saying “all African-Americans eat fried chicken and play basketball!” Opinion is one thing, but racist and unfounded remarks from both Williams and Sanchez have no place in the media. It goes back to what Vivian Schiller states in her apology statement that “traditional standards and practices are under siege.” And when you have a conservative and liberal media that continues to perpetuate commentators and analysts like this, the media dumbs itself lower and lower.

Here’s were I differ in how NPR handled the situation. First, as I stated earlier in my column, Williams’ comment was unprofessional and out of line. But, his comments were’t something he should’ve been terminated for. A suspension or asking him to apologize would’ve been a more suitable punishment. Also, I didn’t like how NPR took a week to decide to let the public know why he was terminated while Vivian Schiller made negative statements on Williams. Schiller made some very unprofessional comments as head of NPR and they were leaked before the public. Not only were they not dignified, it made NPR’s credibility “drop a couple of notches!”

In the end, Juan Williams is now worth two million dollars and will reach more viewers and NPR is now the laughing joke of the media! People, watch what you say,  because your “political incorrectness” can be someone’s treasure.

 

Revolution Will Be Televised,

Brian Pace

The Pace Report

www.thepacereport.com

thepacereport@yahoo.com

 

“Angel Everlasting: The Angela Bofill Experience”

Last weekend I witnessed one of the most stirring tributes to one of most underrated and extremely talented vocalists of her generation. During the late 1970’s, soul music evolved into R & B and the days of Chaka Khan and Roberta Flack styled vocalists were getting a bit younger and more sophisticated. Producers and writers were catering to FM radio that was more relaxed that dominated records sales. Contemporary Jazz (later called Smooth Jazz during the mid 1990’s until most recently), Adult Contemporary, and Urban Adult Contemporary stations allowed longer record durations and night-time “quiet-storm” formats allow artists to experiment with all music genres. Vocalist and writer Angela Bofill is one of those underrated talents in the record industry. Throughout her career, Bofill’s versatile vocal styles have sold millions of records around the world. She worked with some of the most prolific producer/songwriters ranging from Narada Michael Walden, Norman Connors, George Duke, Larry Rosen, and Dave Grusin. Both she and the late Phyllis Hyman brought components of jazz, classical, pop, soul, and R & B to the table at a time when the days of vocalists singing behind charts, arrangements, and strings were coming to an end. Hyman and Bofill gave way and opened the doors for the new generation of 1980’s vocal divas like Anita Baker, Dianne Reeves, Maysa Leak, and Whitney Houston.

Angela’s show “The Angela Bofill Experience” is re-introducing her music to her fans as well as a new generation that are now discovering her music. Over the last six years Angie suffered two near fatal strokes that left her left side paralyzed. Unable to pay for mounting medical expenses, her manager organized a series of tribute shows to dedicate the legacy of Angela. The stroke damaged her vocal cords where she’ll probably never be able to sing. “The Angela Bofill Experience” is where Angie narrates and talks about her life story with live video clips of her past performances throughout her career. Also, vocalists Maysa and Phil Perry perform their rendition of her songs live. During the show she talks about her will to keep living as well as some of her turbulent losses including her nephew who was recently killed in a car accident.

The Bronx, New York native was influenced by the early Latin music her parents played while growing up. Her father was Cuban and her mother is Puerto Rican. Bofill cites both Celia Cruz and Tito Puente as her favorites. But Motown and Aretha Franklin were her loves. Her love for Opera was something she chose to study at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. In addition to her being fluent in opera, she speaks five languages.

Upon graduation she sang in groups locally but it was the urging of friend Dave Valentin, that she audition for producers Larry Rosen and Dave Grusin who just started GRP Records which was distributed by Clive Davis’s Arista Records imprint.

The two were impressed and they recorded her first two records “Angie” and “Angel of the Night” which would dominate both the R & B and Contemporary Jazz charts and radio. Her signature records would go on to include “I Try,” “I’m On Your Side,” “Angel of the Night,” “Too Tough,” and “Baby I Need Your Love.” After two successful records on GRP, Arista bought her contract out and began the early 1980’s with a spell of successful R & B hits.

Vocalists Maysa and Phil Perry add depth and love to Angie’s music some 30 years later. And her band director Kevin Kato Walker understands Bofill’s vision as well as can interpret her music where fans walk away feeling entertained.

“The Angela Bofill Experience” is something you need to experience for yourself. Angie’s music is timeless and fans have spoken. The both shows were sold-out here in New York City, San Francisco, and Detroit.

To find out upcoming tour dates, visit her on the web at http://www.angelabofil.com.

The Revolution Will Be Televised,

 

Brian Pace

The Pace Report

thepacereport@yahoo.com

“Still Searching” Chuck Brown’s Go-Go

Chuck Brown, The Godfather and founder of Go-Go, has a lot to celebrate these days. The 74-year old musician just played on “Late Night” with Jimmy Fallon with The Roots house band. He was recently profiled on National Public Radio and his latest CD, “We Got This,” features bassist/producer Marcus Miller and guest vocalists Ledisi and Jill Scott.

While growing up in the 1950’s in Washington, DC, Brown was exposed and loved all forms of modern music. Whether it was Hank Williams, to Charlie Christian, to James Moody, to Ray Charles; as a teenager he played the guitar emulated the music he heard in many different groups in and around DC. As Rhythm and Blues gave birth to Soul music during the 1960’s, Chuck became in entranced with the Latin tinged records that were popular at the time. Musicians like Tito Puente, Joe Bataan, and Mongo Santamaria. One of the early groups he played with was Los Latinos, a local Washington, DC based group that fused Latin jazz with contemporary Top 40, a popular commercial radio format that dominated the airwaves.

Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers came about during the early 1970’s when Brown decided to fuse his love for Latin Percussion, African rhythms, Funk, and Soul and create his signature sound that gave birth to Go-Go. When he syncopated Latin beats, Brown slowed down the uptempo of disco. He adds, “I just cut the beat in half.” The genius of Go-Go was that Disc Jockeys who were playing Disco records to keep people on the floors, had to compete with Brown’s continuous percussion interludes between songs, where most DJ’s would slow their sets down. By joining the music where there were no stop sets, the audience would shout and party with Brown while he was in charge of the show. Chuck describes Go-Go as music “that keeps going and going! It never stops!”

In 1972 his first hit was “We The People” and then “Blow Your Whistle.” Towards the end of the decade he had one of the biggest hits of his career. “Bustin’ Loose” was the number one hit for three weeks on the R & B charts. Other hits included “Go-Go Medley Swing,” “We Need The Money,” and his latest single “Love” featuring Jill Scott and Marcus Miller.

Chuck’s music has been source of influence for a lot of Go-Go bands throughout the years. Bands like E.U., Rare Essence, Fatback, Trouble Funk, Big G and the Backyard Band, and Little Benny and the Masters.

Currently Chuck continues to tour frequently and refuses to slow down. His music is timeless as well as inspiration to those who keep the funk alive. In spending time with him before his performance, Chuck stresses the importance of family and God in his life. He adds, “I have to give all my love to God…who’s given me a lovely family and wonderful career. I’ve never had to go hungry and never gone a day without work.”

For more information about upcoming tour dates and to order “We Got This” visit him on the web at http://www.windmeupchuck.com.

"The Godfather of Go-Go"

Go-Go

The Court System: The New and Improved Failed Rehab

On September 21st, 2010, Braylon Edwards, wide receiver for the New York Jets, was arrested for failing a blood-alcohol test for being pulled over for originally having excessive tinted windows. This wasn’t Edwards first time with having brushes with the law. In fact, he was charged in 2009 before he was drafted to the Jets for punching a party promoter in Cleveland. He was convicted and plead no contest to a misdemeanor assault charge. The NFL didn’t suspend him and also received a 180 day suspended jail sentence.

As of lately, it seems many athletes, entertainers, and celebrities have set a bad example for the courts and the public. No matter how much money they have, the more heinous and dangerous the crime; the less they have to pay for their mishaps. Lack of morality and money have replaced ethics and law-abiding common sense. This disturbs me because this is sending the wrong waves to society and the younger generation. These high-profile celebrities make it seem its alright to perform in a pornographic film, and then able to land a reality television show and land in the mainstream and act like it’s ok. Again, these actions are playing out daily and is the fodder that’s taken readers and viewers right with it.

The biggest example is the mess with actress and tabloid queen Lindsey Lohan. How can a woman, who hasn’t starred in a successful movie in well over 8 years, be allowed to be released after breaking parole and failed drug and alcohol tests 7 times? And, have a judge tell you the next time you break or violate your drug tests, its back to jail without breaks. Lohan was so indignant, that she posted on her Twitter account that she failed her test! Needless to say, we know what the judge did to her last Friday.

Again, Lohan’s drunken escapades, along with Braylon Edwards actions, could cost someone’s lives. I don’t care who you are, if you drive drunk, or are impaired; death is the final outcome. If an average Joe committed these acts, they would’ve had their license revoked as well as served some jail time or lots of community service.

Here’s another famous socialite that made the news last month. Paris Hilton and her boyfriend Cy Waits were arrested on suspicion of a drug related DUI in Las Vegas. Waits, a former manager and managing partner of XS Nightclub, were coming home after clubbing in his Cadillac Escalade. With smoke coming out his his truck, a motorcycle officer noticed this and decided to pull them over and call for back-up. As Sargent John Sheahan smelled the Marijuana smoke, he asked both Hilton and Waits to get out of the truck. As the officer was conducting his routine search, a bag of cocaine fell out of Hilton’s purse. After their arrest, Hilton and her boyfriend told the press that the cocaine belonged to one of their friends and that she was holding it for someone. It wasn’t until she was arraigned in court that she admitted that she owned the coke. Hilton was also arrested this past June in South Africa on drug possession charges in which the charges were dropped.

Rapper T.I., who just finished a year of prison and received a three year probation for federal guns charges, was arrested with his wife Tameka “Tiny” Cottle in Hollywood, California a couple of weeks ago. T.I. (Clifford Harris, Jr.), violated his probation when he was pulled over under the influence and failed a drug test that showed traces of opiates. The couple had codeine, marijuana, and ecstasy. He was also in company of a convicted felon while traveling.

What really disturbs me about the Braylon Edwards incident is the New York Jets have a free limousine service that provides their football players rides home to prevent incidents such as this. Really, if these guys are making millions of dollars and they haven’t mastered basic common sense, then both the legal system and these celebrities have become idiots.  The NFL hasn’t done anything as of yet on Edwards case, T.I. who broke his parole, will probably serve the rest of his federal sentence, and Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan have used their celebrity to make them more famous.

The bigger picture is that these guys are allowed to continue as “life goes on” while someone’s life has ended due to reckless drinking and driving. I’m tired of these guys being exceptions to the rule. Always getting a pass when the everyday person has to deal with the real consequences and repercussions of the legal system. Unfortunately, it’s going to take an incident where someone like Lindsay to have a serious encounter here they kill or hurt someone for the laws and the legal system to wake up and smell the coffee.  It seems that some celebrities and socialites have no respect for authority and the law and the press continues to allow this happen. As they say, “ignorance is bliss.”