Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NPR and the First Amendment

There is one aspect of the Juan Williams firing that has been totally ignored as far as I can tell. Private Corporations can and do censor their employees and it is perfectly legal for them to do so under most circumstances. Especially if they are recognizable as representing the corporation as Juan Williams was, because they are then effectively speaking for the corporation. But there is an aspect that everyone seems to be glossing over. NPR is a government entity. They may get significant outside monies as well, but they also obtain government funding and as a result are considered a government entity. The first amendment does not apply to private entities, but it DOES apply to the government. Ergo, NPR does not have the same censorship rights MSNBC or FOX might have over their employees. That is an aspect of this incident that is being completely ignored.

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