Nat Hentoff


Nat Hentoff, senior fellow at the CATO Institute, discusses the media’s narrow spectrum of allowable opinions reflected in the firing/retiring of Juan Williams, Helen Thomas and Rick Sanchez, the dangers lurking within the massive Obamacare bill, the bipartisan uproar against a judicial ruling excluding evidence obtained by torture in the terrorism prosecution of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani and how the government torture apparatus’s continued use explains Obama’s “look forward not back” self-immunizing tag line.

MP3 here. (30:02)

Nat Hentoff is a senior fellow at the CATO Institute and one of the foremost authorities on the First Amendment. His column, Sweet Land of Liberty, has been distributed by the United Feature Syndicate since 1992.

Hentoff has earned numerous awards and is a widely acknowledged defender of civil liberties. In 1980, he was awarded an American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award for his coverage of the law and criminal justice in his columns. In 1983, the American Library Association awarded him the Imroth Award for Intellectual Freedom. In 1995, he received the National Press Foundation Award for Distinguished Contributions to Journalism, and in 1999, he was a Pulitzer finalist for commentary.

Hentoff was a columnist and staff writer with The Village Voice for 51 years, from 1957 until 2008. A jazz expert, Hentoff writes on music for The Wall Street Journal and Jazz Times. He has lectured at many colleges, universities, law schools, elementary, middle and high schools, and has taught courses in journalism and the Constitution at Princeton University and New York University. Hentoff serves on the Board of Advisors of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (F.I.R.E.) and is on the steering committee of the Reporters’ Committee for the Freedom of the Press.

15 thoughts on “Nat Hentoff”

  1. Hentoff is full of shit.

    A.J. Liebling wrote that there is freedom of the press for those who own the press. So Juan Williams' bosses decided that he spoke against their interest, so he lost his job. He was an employee at will and his employers held his fture in their hands.

    Mr. Williams lost his NPR position for expressing apprhension about "Muslim-appearing" fellow travelers on an airplane. There is absolutely no difference between his position and that of Mississippi Sheriff "Bull" Connor who had been arrested for complicity in the Goodman/Cheney/Schwerner murders. Connor was asked by a reporter at his arrest "why?" Connor said, "If I can't be better than a nigger who can I be better than?"

    Substitute Muslim for Nigger and you have Juan Williams' attitude. Quite ironic, no?

    1. Are you delusional? How exactly is Juan Williams complicit in murder? When did Juan Williams claim to be better than anyone including Muslims? Why do you consider your views relevant?

  2. Blacks have been lowered a notch on the PC hierarchy list. Too bad.

    Williams was fired for being un-PC. Too bad. Did Williams ever defend a non-black person's free speach rights when that person made unkind comments about blacks?

  3. Obama care may have some issues but it is the private insurance companies that are raising the rates, increasing their profits at the expense of medical care, and the profits of the business community. Obama's main problem was trusting that people will fulfill their promises. He made backroom deals with the insurance companies not to raise rates. How could he claim to keep rates down when they had been rising at very high level every year for decades unless he had made a deal? The insurance companies welched and Obama gets the blame. Obama deserves blame for many things in the health care bill but should not be blamed for rising rates except that he trusted the insurance companies.

    Juan Williams was on his way out for years. So what if he gets fired from one of his two jobs, he got a $2 million deal from FOX, it's hyperbolic to assume that Williams was fired for not being PC. NPR's problem was that they made it sound like the comment was the reason. If it was, NPR shouldn't have used this as their reason. To me that shows how much they were looking for a reason to release him.

    1. The insurance companies are simply doing what makes economic sense. If they are not legally prohibited from raising rates yet, it only makes sense to raise them before whatever price controls the simple minded, overly litigious health care bill includes kick in. To expect them to do otherwise is silly at best. If you are a business that expects it's rates to be set by the state you would raise them as much as possible before that happens, knowing that when the price controls kick in you will not have the ability to alter them again. With the falling currency and America's irrational economic policies how can you expect them to do otherwise?

  4. Scott, I thought you had more of a skeptical eye than to believe the FOX News narrative. NPR like the other major news organizations have an elitism problem. They think they can control the mindset of the country by controling what information they promote. They are finding some will still buy their limited information/propaganda system, and others are willing to think more independently.

    How about prosecuting Obama and the Republicans who are holding up a bill to provide aide to Haiti. The lack of money and aide that was promised I am sure has shortened the lives and livelihoods of the majority of Haitian people. Promising things and not fulfilling them in this case also is a crime against humanity.

    I find it funny that Rand Paul is fruit that fell too far from the tree. He is not the human being his father seems to be.

  5. 'It fundamentally alters the relationship between doctor and patient". I haven't had a relationship between doctor and patient for the last 40 years. I'll be on medicare in less than 2 years, but I don't know if I will use it since I don't even remember what to do when you go to a doctor. I'd feel out of place like a black man at a KKK party.

  6. I like the part where he says Bill Clinton apologized about the Rwanda massacre saying that 'if he only knew about it he would have stopped it'. Ha! I knew about it and I was only reading the newspapers! You mean you can get better intelligence just from reading the local newspaper than the president gets from our intelligence-security apparatus?

  7. Why is Juan Williams a bigot for expressing an apprehension? Are your feelings P.C.? Do you believe your emotional reactions should be policed? Do you believe the fact that islamic hijackers slammed two airliners into two different office towers should have no impact on one's view of muslims at airports, given the additional fact that many islamic groups approved of the attacks? Do you believe in a fact free existence?

    1. According to OBL own words, the purported mastermind behind 9-11 and I stress alleged, the reasons behind the act were NOT religious in nature. They were: 1990's US sanctions on Iraq that led to the death of half million Iraqi children, US military occupation of Muslim lands, and the one-sided support for the Israelis in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Considering these FACTS describing this act and people as "Islamic" hijackers is at least misleading. 9-11 was less about religious fervor and more about American imperialism/occupation. Wouldn't want you to go around fact free johnny boy.

  8. Funny thing about Bill Clinton knew about the Serbs had killed 300,000 bosnian muslims and maybe a 100,000 thousand young albanian muslims had disapeared in Kosovo . non of this turned out to be even half true as only a little over 2000 people had been killed in Kosovo . mostly muslims killed by rebeling muslims before the United States started bombing evreyone to stop a genocide that never happend . But Clinton still reports some of these false facts to coverup the part that United States played in the dismemberment and destruction of Yugoslavia .

  9. Whenever you hear someone like Nat Hentoff, you feel–however fleetingly!–that there’s hope for this TARFU* country of ours.

    The U.S. Government is broken. It’s lawless at home and abroad. How about the DemoPublican Party? It ain’t worth shit. It gives you war and imperialism abroad, and loss of liberty at home. (Don’t vote. Why? There’s nobody worth voting for!)

    *Things Are REALLY F–ked Up.

  10. Guess y'all don't know that the constitution applies only to what the USG can & can't do to you.

    Employers, with the exception of a few laws that have been vastly eroded, can basically do anything they want, at any time, for any reason whatsoever. It's called employment at will.

    The % of NPR budget from the government is deminimus.

    Not surprised you guys don't know the basic principles of the constitution.

    Besides, Williams should have been fired years ago for rank stupidity (not even mentioned his gender harassment), of which his 'firing' remark was only one example.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.