Two potential GOP presidential candidates went to their Facebook accounts Thursday to blast National Public Radio for firing analyst Juan Williams for controversial comments he made about Muslims and to urge lawmakers to cut funding for the organization.
Williams was fired for telling Fox News host Bill O'Reilly that when he boards an airplane and sees "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.''
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and possible 2012 presidential contender, took to her Facebook account, as she often does when making news, to blast NPR's action.
"If NPR is unable to tolerate an honest debate about an issue as important as Islamic terrorism, then it's time for 'National Public Radio' to become 'National Private Radio,'" Palin wrote. "It's time for Congress to defund this organization."
Her comments were echoed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who also is weighing a 2012 White House bid. He said he would decline future interview requests from NPR. "It is time for the taxpayers to start making cuts to federal spending, and I encourage the new Congress to start with NPR," Huckabee wrote on his Facebook page.
Free Press President Josh Silver denounced such calls. "It is time to stop playing politics with our nation's public media system," Silver said in a statement. "Calling for Congress to defund NPR is nothing more than political opportunism by public figures who have built a career on such shenanigans. Regardless of what you think about Juan Williams' dismissal, calling for the defunding of NPR is like asking for the death penalty in small claims court."