It’s always unnerving for a journalist to cross the boundary between covering a story and becoming a story. Fox News analyst Juan Williams found himself in that position in October 2010, following controversial comments he made on “The O’Reilly Factor.”
“I remember coming out of my hotel room and seeing my face on the cover of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and USA Today,” Williams says. “I was thinking, ‘What did I do? Did I kill somebody?’”
What he did was to admit feeling nervous when he saw people dressed in Muslim garb at airports in the aftermath of 9/11. Despite going on to say that no one, regardless of religion, should be discriminated against, it was that comment that made headlines and led to his being fired from NPR.
That experience serves as the basis for his new book, “Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate.”
The book traces the stifling effect of political correctness and the insistence on clinging to extreme positions by figures on both the left and the right. “The middle has to reassert itself,” he offers as a solution. “People have to say, ‘I’m not afraid to speak my mind. I’m not going to be intimidated or bullied by those who tell me to stand in line and obey their orthodoxy.’ Honest debate is the first step toward honest ideas and good solutions for the betterment of our country.”