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Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate Hardcover – July 26, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (July 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307952010
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307952011
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Juan Williams is both dangerous and highly constructive.  He is both of these because, although he is a liberal, he is also a well-informed independent thinker.  Driven by conviction and evidence, he is not afraid to dissent from liberal orthodoxy.  He’s a liberal with whom conservatives can have an honest debate and sometimes find common ground.  And while I don’t necessarily agree with every observation or opinion in this book, it is Juan’s candid appraisal of the condition of political debate in America. It ain’t a pretty sight.”
—Karl Rove, former senior advisor to President George W. Bush
 
"For any American who fears the coarsening of our political debate has become an impediment to our progress as a people – and, more importantly, is wondering how to fix it – Juan Williams has written a book well worth reading."
—David Axelrod, former senior advisor to President Barack Obama
 
"Ever since Juan Williams wrote Eyes on the Prize about the Civil Rights movement I've been an admirer.  It was painful to see him become the insect-in-the-jar last year for speaking his mind freely on Fox News.  In Muzzled Williams gets to settle mighty scores.  Its a thoughtful, poignant and well written defense of his journalism career.  And its a cautionary tale about political correctness run amok.  Highly recommended!"
—Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Wilderness Warrior and The Great Deluge

"Juan Williams has written a fascinating account of what happened to him at NPR, and used it to make the case for a serious and civilized political debate. An important book and a compelling read."
—Brit Hume, Senior Political Analyst, Fox News Channel

“Juan Williams has written a poignant and powerful book about the degradation of our democratic dialogue. He skewers right and left alike for their tendency to use labels and applause lines to try to silence opposition. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you already know what he is going to say. Read the book instead. You will come away, as I did, sobered about the state of our politics, and determined to demand better.”
—Stephen L. Carter, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale University

"Juan Williams truly understands the importance of fighting hard for honest debate in America. Though we disagree on many issues, I was pleased to help make sure that his strong voice was not silenced by those who give lip service to the First Amendment. Like his on-air appearances, Juan’s writing is smart and honest. Muzzled is the compelling story of our Constitution in action and one man's willingness as an American to speak his mind at any cost."
—Roger Ailes, President of Fox News Channel and Chairman of the Fox Television Stations Group

"Juan Williams has written a fascinating account of what happened to him at NPR, and used it to make the case for a serious and civilized political debate. An important book and a compelling read."
—Brit Hume, Senior Political Analyst, Fox News Channel

About the Author

Juan Williams, one of America’s leading journalists, is a political analyst for Fox News, a regular panelist on Fox Broadcasting’s Sunday morning public affairs program, “Fox News Sunday,” and a columnist for FoxNews.com and for The Hill. He hosted NPR’s Talk of the Nation and has anchored Fox News Channel’s weekend daytime news coverage. A former senior correspondent and political analyst for National Public Radio, he is the author of the bestselling book Enough; the critically acclaimed biography Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary; and the national bestseller Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965, the companion volume to the critically acclaimed television series. During his 21-year career at The Washington Post, Williams served as an editorial writer, op-ed columnist, and White House reporter. His articles have appeared in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Time, Newsweek, Fortune, The Atlantic Monthly, Ebony, Gentlemen’s Quarterly, and The New Republic.

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Customer Reviews

I was very upset when NPR fired Juan Williams.
L. Ford
Due to Williams' experience and insights, (even if he remains biased) his book is and important read for anybody interested in current events or politics.
Paul Cassel
America has a serious problem in that it can't even discuss the problems it faces.
Gryphonisle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Paul Cassel VINE VOICE on July 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Nearly at the very start of `Muzzled' Juan Williams, unintentionally, makes an excellent point about why this book is an almost mandatory read for anybody interested in political discourse today. Here's his reasoning. He comments that most of us have jobs that consume much of our attention and effort. At best, this leaves a relatively short amount of time and attention for us to concentrate on political or social matters. Some folks, often described as the chattering classes of which Williams is one, do nothing but pay attention to politics. This is their job. They know the processes and the people involved. They are the political authorities. Many of us tend to think we have a comprehensive knowledge about the political process, but we can't -- given the limitations of our daily lives. Thus no matter if you agree or disagree with Williams, what he says is the distillation of more research and thought than most of us can dedicate to the process.

The first chapter of `Muzzled' is Williams' version of his firing from NPR and hiring as a commentator (rather than the occasional guest) by Fox News. Williams only devotes a single chapter to this incident probably to air his view of the event reinforced by the subsequent resignations or firings at NPR over his dismissal. He notes that while at NPR he was regularly policed as to what he was permitted to say. Over at Fox, he's always been given perfect freedom to express whatever his thoughts may be. That's a rather telling contrast between Fox and NPR.

Clearly, though, the book isn't about Williams or his time at NPR or Fox or anything to do with Williams as a person. Instead, he posits that political dialog in the United States itself is muzzled, just as he was at NPR, by what he terms `political correctness'.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Wanda B. Red VINE VOICE on July 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have long been an admirer of the fearless, straightforward style of news commentator Juan Williams, an intelligent liberal moderate who welcomes conversation with others on all sides of important issues in contemporary American politics. So, I was shocked and deeply dismayed when he was dismissed by NPR for his willingness to discuss ordinary fears that are shared by many people (fears that he was simply admitting not defending). Williams' firing, described in the first chapter of "Muzzled," forms the jumping off point for this book, but the book goes far beyond being a personal narrative of his experience.

In nine chapters that range widely over the controversial issues of our day (health care reform, immigration policy, abortion, the tax code, campaign finance, and many more), Williams traces how our increasingly polarized media have degraded the national discussion of these issues, drowning out rational debate and preventing the reasonable compromises on which political progress has historically been based. Although more American voters are now Independents than either Republicans or Democrats, our political discourse is dominated by strident voices at the extremes, and the result predictably is that many citizens feel alienated from the national conversation and have lost trust in the ability of the news media to provide them with the information they need to understand issues, an essential requirement for the exercise of our precious franchise. Williams indeed reminds us that we are in control as citizens, a control we need to assert more vigorously. His commonsense analysis (and even more his own career as a successful journalist who plies his craft with the utmost integrity) provides hope.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Scott Wildermuth on November 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
For a book discussing first amendment rights and political extremism, Muzzled doesn't execute terribly well.

Juan starts out strong, discussing his dismissal from NPR frankly and honestly. As the book moves on, he talks about what happens when you can't tackle difficult social and governing issues due to fear of being strung up by your ankles. He presents his case well, providing solid evidence and making excellent points.

Unfortunately, it's the middle of the book where things start to break down. As he tackles specific issues, the non-partisan approach he had taken to writing begins to break down, and Juan himself digresses into not exploring all sides of an issue. The majority of negative examples are from Republicans, the majority of the positive from Democrats. While I always expect partisanship in books, at the outset Juan himself states that, while he is a registered Democrat, he prides himself on looking at all points of view.

Getting out of this situation is a catch 22 - how do we start to discuss the issues when discussing the issues is equivalent to stepping on a land mine? There was no chapter dedicated on how to get things moving again, just sentences here and there stating "we need to be able to talk about these things." I agree - but how?

Muzzled is worth a read if you're as frustrated by the state of extremism in our government as I am, but overall it fell short of my expectations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Troy Johnson on April 22, 2013
Format: Paperback
Juan Williams ignited a firestorm of controversy when he admitted to Bill O'Reilly on national television that he feels nervous whenever he sees fellow passengers in Muslim garb getting on a plane with him. Within hours, Juan was fired from his own talk show on National Public Radio (NPR) by his boss, Ellen Weiss, despite his having an exemplary record since joining the network almost a decade earlier.

He says Weiss essentially labeled him a bigot and "gave me no chance to tell my side of the story." And the very next day, NPR's CEO, Vivian Schiller, not only rubber-stamped his termination, but added insult to injury when she implied that Juan might be mentally unstable by suggesting that he should've kept the comment between himself and his psychiatrist.

Williams never retracted the Muslim comment, and he subsequently suffered some sleepless nights and shed some tears over the loss of his job and reputation. After all, didn't his sterling civil rights record as the author of the award-winning, PBS saga "Eye on the Prize" as well as of a critically-acclaimed biography of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall count for anything? Yet now he was left with no idea what effect the blowback from the brouhaha would have on his career as a journalist just for merely exercising his First Amendment Right of Free Speech.

Half heartfelt memoir/half an urgent appeal for the return of civil discourse to the public arena, Muzzled persuasively bemoans the pressure placed on pundits nowadays to talk only in sanitized, politically-correct phraseology. Its title probably sounds appropriate given that it was inspired by the unfortunate chapter of Juan's life during which he was temporarily taken off the air.

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