The Firing of Juan Williams

Friday, October 22, 2010


NPR analyst Juan Williams was fired this week after he told Bill O’Reilly that he feels nervous when he sees religiously attired Muslims on planes. Slate’s William Saletan says Williams shouldn’t have been fired, partly because he was a victim of selective editing.

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Comments [85]

Asha B from Raleigh

I do not believe that Juan Williams should have been fired because he was stating his fears. Everyone has fears but it does not make them a racist or prejudiced towards others. I don't think that he was necessarily scared or afraid of Muslims its more of the fact that he was aware of the people in his surroundings. Because of our country's history with Muslims per say, I think it is understandable why one may feel some type of way.

Dec. 08 2010 04:42 PM
Linda Onuorah from North Carolina

I feel as though Juan Williams should have known better than to make such absurd comments on the air. Yes, we are all entitled to our opinions, but there are ways in which a figure such as himself could have said what he had to say without offending those of Islamic decent. I am not entirely upset with FOX's decisions to fire him because they probably realized that Mr. Williams was no longer an asset to them, but now a liability. Regardless of the situation, a person should know what to say and what not to say in certain situations.

Dec. 07 2010 10:39 PM
Marques King

I think everyone is entitled to their on opinion. I feel that them firing Mr. Williams was unfair because that was his personal view and they shouldnt have taken it so seriously.

Dec. 07 2010 01:11 PM
Dominique Jackson from Raleigh, NC

I too agree that its was a clever idea to only play only a segment of the conversation. Doing this ensures listeners to know only limited facts, which in turns makes them biased because they do not have all the facts. Not telling the entire truth is just as bad as lying.

Nov. 29 2010 11:31 AM
Victoria Caudle

Everybody views the world differently. I wouldn't have fired him because on his own opinion, even though it may not have been the most appropriate thing to say. The idea of Americans and Islam's fighting do reflect upon the injustice of others.

Nov. 10 2010 08:09 AM
Ryan Duell

i agree with the NPR's decision to fire Mr. Williams about his comments toward Muslims, but then again different people have different opinions.

Nov. 10 2010 08:05 AM
noah wider

the network fired williams because of his comments on the o'riely facto. O'Riely says he gets nervous when he sees a muslim on the plain he gets nervous. republicans say that they should cut the funding for their show. FOX wants williams for a 10 million dollars

Nov. 02 2010 02:34 PM
Charles W. Brooks, II from Raleigh, NC

Juan Williams, Juan Williams, Juan Williams.... Juan's comments were obviously unnecessary. As a reporter or an analyst it is their job to stay away from opinions and state strictly facts. Although NPR is know for their conservative opinions, Williams clearly violates his duties as a reporter/analyst. I do believe that Juan Williams being fired is slightly unfair due to NPR's past, but when rules are violated their are consequences.

The idea of America fighting Islam reflect injustice, but if comments (like Juan Williams) keep reaching the media then Muslims will keep believing that Americans are trying to obliterate them when that is not the case. As Americans, we must remain humble and true to our core values, where everyone is accepted.

Nov. 02 2010 10:12 AM

were the last ten or 15 comments done during a high school class or something?

Oct. 29 2010 10:47 PM

Of course his comments were completely uncalled for and not to mention unethical and down right racist but when it comes down to it we are talking about the left and right media. NPR hired Jaun because he was conservative and was needed to justify government funding in NPR. NPR is as liberal as media gets and has been called for funding to end form the government. Fox hosted him because again of his conservatism but also because he worked at NPR so that Fox would seem non-biast.

Oct. 29 2010 02:03 PM

I don't believe that Juan Williams should have been fired because everybody felt differently about 9/11. I think that he could have expressed himself more politely but did not deserve to be fired. Everybody has different opinions and should be allowed to express them.

Oct. 29 2010 01:57 PM
country girl !

well well well...i don't feel like they should have fired him because he didn't want to ride on the plane with the muslim dude. He can take an alternate route. An everybody has freedom of speech !

Oct. 29 2010 01:53 PM

this is a very interesting story but is going against the first amendment. everybody have freedom of speech. the fact that they fired Williams just because he had a personal opinion about muslims being on a plane, doesn't mean he should be fired. i personally would feel ackward about it but then again i have no problem with other people. don't judge a person until you know them. just because one muslim did something wrong doesnt mean all muslims are the same !!

Oct. 29 2010 01:47 PM

i just feel that if you have a strong opinion about something that can offend someone then u need to find a way too say it with out offending a person, bc juan didnt think about that when ever he said he opinion and bc of that he got fired and i dont think that, that was a bad thing to do. he needs to learn how to respect other poeple and their feelings

Oct. 29 2010 01:42 PM

welll . . i personally dont agree with the choice of firing williams because obviously the 9/11 incident affected people in different ways. i think that williams feels this way because its his personal opinion on the incident and no one has the right to judge anyone elses' opinion.

Oct. 29 2010 01:36 PM

I feel like if your going to Juan Williams out on a comment he made you need to call everyone out. There are a lot of people out there that have said things probably worst or just as bad as him. The thing that you do have to keep in mind is that everyone is entitled their constitutional rights. Especially freedom of speech.

Oct. 29 2010 01:35 PM
David Duty

i feel that NPR really did take it way out of proportion by firing him because it was really taken out of context because he really wasn't trying to be racist but at least he might be getting a contract from fox

Oct. 29 2010 10:34 AM
Kendra Douglas from Raleigh, NC

Juan Williams in the past was considered to be an outspoken speaker, but for NPR to go out of their way to fire him just added more fuel to the fire seems like. The only good thing that came out of his desicion was the two-million-dollar contract that FOX is trying to give to him. Sounds like Williams is going to speak his mind but just for a different network.

Oct. 29 2010 09:35 AM

NPR made a mistake but the hysterical overreaction to Juan Williams' firing is grossly disproportionate to the significance of the event.

NPR remains a great news organization, while Fox News is the most intellectually dishonest and morally bankrupt news org in American history.

Oct. 29 2010 09:26 AM
Ivan D.

NPR should not have fired Williams. He stated his opinion but followed it up with his reasoning. Also, he asked a critical question in asking do we link all christians to Timothy McVeigh like we do innocent muslims to terrorist. He was right in his statement that we are at war with extremist rather than all followers of the islamic religion. Why is it that when it comes to our personal religion and someone does something horrible using it as an excuse, we are allowed to detach ourselves from that person/people and others are not?

Oct. 29 2010 08:46 AM

People are titled to their own opinion. I think that Williams could have said his comments when necessary, he was stating how he felt!

Oct. 29 2010 08:16 AM
Mr. Harris

Everything that you say the media reveals it and what William said reflected on the way he felt, and will continuously do. In my eyes the point that he made was good, but all others have their own opinion.

Oct. 29 2010 08:07 AM
Mary Smith from North Carolina

I do not think that Williams should have to watch what he says, but he should also know that this is television, and what is said will not be taken lightly by anybody. But he did not say anything offensive, and he was making a good point, therefore being fired was definitely an irrational decision.

Oct. 28 2010 06:24 PM
Bill Burrows from Cortlandt Manor NY

I've read the NPR president's and Ombudsman's responses to criticism of the handling of the firing of Juan Williams. I am not impressed. I'm not going to be contributing to fund-raising this year, and I doubt that I will contribute in the future if I do not hear that Vivian Schiller admits that NPR has not been consistent in its handling of Williams and other correspondents and analysts (Cokie Roberts, Nina Totenberg, and Daniel Schorr come to mind).

What Williams said on the O'Reilly factor was a simple report on a feeling of fear that runs through him if he sees people in "Muslim" garb on a plane. The entire tenor of his presence on O'Reilly that night was to argue against discriminating on the basis of such fears. Having sent years as a white man in a Chicago, all-black inner city neighborhood, where I was once time being stuck up by two teen-agers, one of whom put a 12-gauge shotgun under my chin, I know fear. The first stage of overcoming prejudice and fear is being honest about them.

Both the NPR Ombudsman's statement and that of Ms Schiller reek of the comfortable prejudices I have encountered time and again among liberal journalists, professors, and writers during twenty years of editing academic religious studies books .
Never fail to take advantage of a crisis. NPR and Ms Schiller have a good chance to take off their blindfolds and take advantage of this one.

Oct. 28 2010 04:20 PM
The Boz from Philadelphia

I appreciate Juan Williams sharing what I suspect are his honest feelings. However, I find the religious profiling striking coming from the man responsible for Eyes on the Prize. And, I cannot help myself wondering what the reaction might have been if this was a white commentator saying that he/she is uncomfortable when encountering black males on a city street.

Oct. 28 2010 12:33 PM
Mark Richard from Columbus, Ohio

To KadeKo, thanks at least for agreeing about Nina Totenberg's comment. I agree with you that Fox is biased. We probably disagree over whether Fox is unique in bringing an ideological bias to its editorial mission. The odd thing is that I think Fox has had two effects: forcing MSNBC to the Left to fill the (smaller) niche for an 'anti-Fox; and forcing CNN to the center by forcing the issues of political fairness. CNN used to be a little more slanted; I think it tries harder to be non-partisan now. To me, CNN is the most trustworthy on straightforward political analysis. But maybe it's not a bad thing to sample a variety of news sources. Fox will, because of its biases, run perfectly accurate information that is embarrassing to Democrats. MSNBC will do the same thing to the GOP. CNN may spike either, because it does not want to appear partisan. Let a thousand voices be heard.

Oct. 28 2010 12:14 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Now, having read the comments, the main thing that jumps out at me is that no one from Connecticut would be directing people to the work of anyone named Stephen Hayes - as our Hayes is in the penalty portion of the trial for his part in the vicious murders of the Petit family women, of which he is already convicted.

The weekly standard guy would be advised to check into at least a temporary name change, until either our Stephen Hayes is killed by the state or his fellow prisoners. Child killers don't fair well in general inmate populations.

Oct. 28 2010 06:58 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

The only line cut off by your arbitrary limit: "Fox & right wing radio, not so much!"

Now, I realize that I ignored CNN and MSNBC, entirely.

They do force one to write my tersely, or is it lead?

Oct. 27 2010 08:40 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Warning: for the first time in many weeks, while I heard much about this, I have not read the 56 previous comments before preparing this. Later for that!

Two tweets to C-SPAN (unpublished on-air) responding to “Should Juan Williams have been fired from NPR?”:

1) I shielded Satanic Verses, seeing 'apparent' Islamic law students at Yale's Co-op, & I knew it endangered my job as against policy!

2) Always express yourself for free. Even writing for a newspaper, I was really paid for delivery only. Can't get fired that way!

My email response (unpublished on-air) to the question "Should tax dollars continue to go to NPR (National Public Radio)?"

I have heard, "Truth has a liberal bias!" Cut the 2% from the government and, just judging from its billboard ads, the whole PBS system will continue, with even greater private public support! We want & need it, as we do you at C-SPAN and those at Free Speech TV and our public access system and, even, college radio.

Oct. 27 2010 08:36 PM

Has Geraldo give away any troop locations this week? O'Reilly cut off any liberal's mics lately?

Fox is a propaganda machine, pure and simple. Bias is so built in that it is not newsworthy when it happens there.\

Yes, Totenberg's one remark was for crap. But Juan Williams had been on notice for dragging NPR's name through Fox's mud for months now.

Oct. 26 2010 10:12 PM
Mark Richard from Columbus, Ohio

To KadeKo, Alan Colmes and Juan Williams (and Geraldo Rivera, for that matter) were and are a lot more likely to disagree with Fox viewers than is NPR's house 'conservative' David Brooks is to challenge NPR's core audience. I don't hear many analysts on NPR who 'actually combats' and challenges the smug and insular leftish attitudes of those people, either. Left-wing political correctness is strongly enforced at NPR, which leads its heavily sanitized coverage of race and gender issues into the 'Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes and ears?' territory.

Fox wins these debates, whether you like it or not. No working Fox reporter has said anything quite to match Nina Totenberg's wish that Jesse Helms' grand-children get AIDS. No Fox commentator has said anything quite matching Andrei Codrescu's wish that all Christians be banished from the earth. No Fox functionary has been caught out belonging to a secret, Journolist-like cabal and wishing for the death of some named Republicans, as was the case with Sarah Spitz. If you can produce any, let us know. Otherwise, you unintentionally illustrate why Fox wins these 'bias' arguments.

Oct. 26 2010 07:59 PM

---But it doesn’t seem that any perceptible number of Fox News viewers had any complaints that Williams also worked for NPR.---

Because he was an Alan Colmes-type whose Fox appearances gave them the ability to say "We've got a NPRer here". Nevermind that Fox has no effing interest in a liberal who actually combats like every conservative there gets to. JW on Fox gave them cred which was leached from NPR.

Oct. 26 2010 05:55 PM
David from Lawrenceville, NJ

Michael Barrone gets it when he says "It’s apparent that NPR was moved to fire Juan because he irritates so many people in its audience. An interesting contrast: while many NPR listeners apparently could not stomach that Williams also appeared on Fox News. But it doesn’t seem that any perceptible number of Fox News viewers had any complaints that Williams also worked for NPR. The Fox audience seems to be more tolerant of diversity than the NPR audience."

Oct. 26 2010 05:20 PM

---Fox News continues to win these confrontations with the 'mainstream media'. The reason is too simple for the
knee-jerk Fox-haters to grasp.---

It's surprisingly complex. Of course, Fox has so debased the idea of actual reportage that nothing they do worries the rest of the media except in impact. If it's a sh!tstorm from Fox, of course it all BS! NPR has to concern itself with some reality.

I don't care that Fox's viewers don't give a crap about that fakitivity. I do care that the rest of the media, journalists, editors, and commentors alike, who are all so determined to be more "savvy" than those of us who simply consume media, fall for this time and time again.

Oct. 26 2010 04:40 PM
rick cukla from wisconsin

My opinion is that Williams was, basically, giving his heartfelt opinion to Fox news. That's like a black guy voicing his sentiments in front of a Klan rally.
He was fired because he thought, for the right amount of money, he was going to be taken seriously by white racist spokes thugs on talk media. Being intelligent with an opinion is not acceptable to Fox. But having a token black on their program to show 'diversity' is worth millions. Juan bought into this and he deserved to be fired. Now he is a guaranteed millionaire.

Oct. 26 2010 03:45 PM
TG Chicago

Saletan says: "...I wonder how many people just saw the ThinkProgress clip, not the whole video, and so think that Juan Williams was encouraging some sort of violence, when he was saying precisely the opposite."

I never saw anyone say that Williams was encouraging violence. Where did he get that preposterous notion?

No, Williams was excusing and rationalizing bigotry. Not as bad as encouraging violence, but still bad.

Oct. 26 2010 02:03 PM

...or "by monday the postings on otm's website get crotchety old man-ier.."

Oct. 26 2010 01:35 PM
Richard Johnston from Manhattan Upper west side

It is absurd and intellectually dishonest to assert Williams was fired because he is African-American. Remembering Williams' discipline for harassment at the Washington Post 19 years ago, there is likely more here than meets the eye and that NPR can publish other than the unfortunate lapse regarding "his psychiatrist," but his offensive comments on Fox rendered him ineffective henceforth in the progressive context of NPR, and he violated the terms of his employment. If he had said "Every time I see a yarmulke I can't help thinking about the Jewish bankers and financiers and wondering if they are bilking the Gentiles," or "Whenever I see a Roman Catholic priest I ask if he is going to rape a boy in the neighborhood" he would similarly have been dismissed, and hardly anybody would have complained.

Oct. 26 2010 08:50 AM

i feel like they shouldn't have fired him. He was just stating his opinion, what happened to freedom of speech for everyone. I feel like he should still be working for them. People can talk about what he said because you don't expect everyone to agree with you. He knew that there was going to be some controversy with what he said.

Oct. 26 2010 08:26 AM

When I turn on Fox, I see:

Eleanor Cliff
Jaun Williams
Mara Liasson
Susan Estrich
Kirsten Powers
Alicia Menendez
Bob Beckel
Alan Colmes
Ellis Henican

The list goes on. Who exactly are the conservatives on NPR... David Brooks?

Oct. 25 2010 10:47 PM
Mark Richard from Columbus, Ohio

Fox News continues to win these confrontations with the 'mainstream media'. The reason is too simple for the knee-jerk Fox-haters to grasp. By drawing accusations of political bias - which are undoubtedly true - Fox has given credibility to the idea, long promoted by right-wing MSM critics, that producers and writers and correspondents bring a slant to their political coverage. Fox, in other words, has forced a consideration of what constitutes political bias.

Then it successfully points out how, by the standards applied to Fox, other news outfits are guilty of a political agenda, too. Embarrassed MSMers are forced to try to keep their credibility. Nina Totenberg was visibly uncomfortable over the weekend on a talk show when Charles Krauthammer raised the issue of past left-wing pronouncements by NPR correspondents, including Nina Totenberg, which have undermined their credibility with people not of that political faith. Fox wins again - and its feckless, sloganeering opponents don't even realize when they have been pantsed in the debate over the culture and values of the media-political echo chamber. Fox is saying 'everyone does it'; Gallup polling numbers suggest consumers think 'the media' is too liberal by 48% vs. 15% who think it is 'too conservative'; it is really remarkable that NPR, OTM and other press reviews cannot bring themselves to acknowledge how much weaponry they have given right-wing critics charging left-wing bias. I can't imagine why. Until I recall Brooke Gladstone's own mention of her voting habits, and look at her resume.

Oct. 25 2010 05:10 PM

amy goodman is left of center.

npr is center or soft right. there are so many things they would never air because of npr's commitment to the soft center.

wnyc (biggest npr station), for example, would never broadcast amy goodman, though many college stations do...

... it's silly to be mean about this stuff. so easy to critique according to level of professionalism and aspiration to be neutral. left of center was al gore's station, they were a (admittedly unlistenable--b/c of professionalism level) lefty match to the right's fox.

Oct. 25 2010 05:06 PM
Jackie from Downers Grove, IL

Conspicuously missing from the report was Ms. Schiller's comments when she fired him. I'm saddened that it wasn't part of the dialogue because for me, that was the final straw. Perhaps next week's show should be on the damaged integrity of NPR's iron-clad brand. At least for this donor and listener, my ears have been perked and I will be listening all the more critically.

Oct. 25 2010 12:58 PM
Wallace LAw from La.

Good Bye NPR and the Democrats. You have left me no choice but to abandon your close minded left wing garbage and begin supporting the Tea Party and protect this country against socialist ideas like you! The CEO is the one that should have been fired. It seems to me that she might of had a personal issue with Juan and used her power to push him out. You don't call some on the phone to fire him. You look him in his eyes and give it to him straight. She could'nt do this because she knew she was wrong.

Oct. 25 2010 11:49 AM
ctb from FL

P.S. Why do so many seem to equate expressing bigotry w/ expressing political opinion? Oh right, they might be used to listening to FNN, et al...

Oct. 25 2010 11:09 AM
ctb from FL

OTM's segment gave me pause & I started to rethink my reaction to what I knew of this story - & then I READ Mr. William's words & the so-called plea for tolerance was actually qualified - creating a different message than Saletan concludes (bit of irony there).
As Mr. Saletan's article shows, the sentence following was, "But I think there are people who want to somehow remind us all as President Bush did after 9/11, it's not a war against Islam."

Please note that Willams did not claim any ownership of the idea of tolerance. More of a devil's advocate stance, IMO.

& the fact that he brought up his 'fear' in the 1st place did more to highlight bigotry than tolerance. & how about the fact that FNN is REWARDING him for it now?

Apparently this guy has some serious issues - did anyone else see the report about his prior punishment for sexual harassment? So he's a misogynist as well? Good riddance, I say.

Oct. 25 2010 10:59 AM

Line of the weekend:

"If liberals want to understand how conservatives feel about NPR, they should ask themselves this: How would I feel if I knew every time I paid my taxes, a tiny bit of it was going to Rush Limbaugh? NPR's firing of Juan Williams amounted to an instantaneous prosecution and conviction for thought-crime." - Kyle Smith.

Oct. 25 2010 10:40 AM
karin davison from Rutherford, N.J

Juan Williams expressed a feeling, has never called for any action against Muslims, so why does NPR fire him without even a meeting, a discussion, some sort of mediation to have him express why he said what he said. I don't agree with his sentiments, however, people getting fired left and right in this politically hardened culture, no room left for reconsideration, just " get rid of the troublemakers" like Mr. Williams. Not a very liberal attitude.
I am a regular NPR listener, but will now take your political programs with a grain of salt. Not good thinking for the otherwise outstanding NPR programming.

Oct. 24 2010 09:29 PM

(Ooops! disclaimer: Only heard a bit yet--hooray for podcasts. And Saletan is a concern troll who is put off by the ickyness of what happens when women stand up for their reproductive rights. I wonder if he is the best person to be a sole interviewee on this issue.)

Oct. 24 2010 08:22 PM

---Why is it that Juan William's colleagues and viewers at FOX never cared about his work at NPR yet NPR listeners seemed terribly angered by him appearing on FOX.---

Because he was an Alan Colmes-type whose Fox appearances gave them the ability to say "We've got a NPRer here". Nevermind that Fox has no effing interest in a liberal who actually combats like every conservative there gets to.

---Christine O'Donnell being laughed at for suggesting that "separation of church and state" is not in the First
Amendment when actually it is not there.---

The actuality was far worse for O'Donnell. The crowd was laughing at her because she tried, unsuccessfully, in two spots to put words in Coons' mouth about the phrase "separation of church and state". He pwned her by describing the concept and the history of it in a few succint sentences. She thought she got "check and mate" over on him, and she was so totally out of her depth it was embarrassing for her, even given the leeway the media does to Tea Partiers to not be up on their issues.

---Unless of course their personal public position on a controversial issue is also a leftist, politically correct
position. Then no problem.---

Daniel, since the day it was announced, NPRers have been warned not to show up at the Stewart/Colbert shindig in DC. And I'll start worrying about whatever's left-leaning in NPR's roster when Fox stops being the GOP's media arm.

Oct. 24 2010 08:17 PM

Fox "news" is the marketing arm of the Republican and Tea Parties. There isn't the slightest bit of news or journalism on it. It is a toxic cesspool of ignorance, demogoguery, outright lies, and bigotry. Those are not "alternate viewpoints", they are noise pollution. Juan Williams having anything to do with Fox disqualifies him as a legitimate journalist. Oh sure, I feel sorry for him losing his job, I have no idea how he will make ends meet with a puny $2 million contract from Fox.

Honestly, scared of Muslims?? Elvis in a Cadillac, grow up! Is there such a shortage of bigotry and stupidity in the world that Mr. Williams must fill the gap? Please. Stop the bigotry. Stop the stupidity.

"Europol Report: All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 99.6% that Aren’t"

"Pictures of Muslims Wearing Things"

Oct. 24 2010 07:59 PM
michael Guilmette

This whole scenario sounds and smells fishy.
Getting fired for this type performance and finding
a job within hours with the same competitor, sounds like
a staged act.
There are things that both sides are not divulging.
Come-on, sitting across from O'Reilly and agreeing
with him, is not the norm for any intelligent person.

Oct. 24 2010 07:13 PM

Williams' comments and subsequent firing raised a number of interesting and important issues about the role of the media in our society. Unfortunately, though, OTM seemed to explore only one -that of 'selective editing'- to any satisfying degree in this piece. (And even on this single issue, the treatment seemed somewhat cursory, with host and guest seemingly uncritically accepting the notion that a distortion similar to that which emerged in Shirley Sherrod's case occurred here.)

I really value OTM's depth of coverage, generally, and am hoping this event will be considered more thoroughly in future weeks. It would be great to hear more from OTM on questions such as:

-How meaningful is this 'analyst' vs. 'commentator' distinction?
-Should a media outlet consider analyst comments uniformly, no matter whether expressed in its own or another forum?
-On the comments themselves: Should such fears be addressed in the media? If so, in what context?

Oct. 24 2010 03:42 PM
Will Heitzman from Las vegas, nv.

Juan Williams says little I agree with but his firing came
much less desaerved than others for simila reasons. If
you speak against the Muslim's to touch upon a sore spot.
No one wants to be a target of Muslim extremeists, thus
it had much to do with bowing down to them. I know one
of the owners at N P R. I have had great admiration for
her. Juan should be reinstated. If not N P R will without
a doubt be sued. Who wins then?

Oct. 24 2010 03:19 PM
Joe Chromy from Boston

You are so wrong! The liberal and conservative listeners of NPR are upset. and this is not a conservative bloggesfere issue.. .

Vivian is wrong in her views -

Oct. 24 2010 02:27 PM
gianni Lovato from Chatham,NY

I refuse to be fully drawn into yet another "battle of the extremes", so popular (and profitable) for most media.
But I do admire your efforts to shed light into what SHOULD have been another minor event.
Decisions driven by any kind of extremism and/or fanaticism, and taken without learning the facts are throwing sand into the wheels of civilization.
I'd love to support your efforts, but I will do so only if and when I know that NPR gets none of it.
They have lost my respect AND my support.

Oct. 24 2010 01:11 PM
Daniel from Austin, TX

I would like to second the suggestion of Charles Brown (#27):
Next show, get Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard, to offer you his views as an extension of his thoughtful series of columns on the firing of Juan Williams:

Oct. 24 2010 11:42 AM
Daniel from Austin, TX

Juan was fired because according to NPR, their "News analysts may not take personal public positions on controversial issues..."

Unless of course their personal public position on a controversial issue is also a leftist, politically correct position. Then no problem.

This controversy reeks of a double-standard. If NPR journalists make disparaging remarks about the Tea Party or some other right wing group, there is no issue.

This situation with Juan could have been handled so much better. NPR could have used it to create a public dialogue on all the issues involved, including and especially the chilling effect of political correctness on free speech.

Instead, NPR choose to take a ham fisted, authoritarian approach and fire Juan. And look at the blow back that has created. Bad move.

Oct. 24 2010 10:36 AM
Paul from tennesee

I say NPR is too conservative.

See what I mean Mullins?

Oct. 24 2010 05:01 AM
Charles Brown from Michigan

There is much more for OTM to do on this story.

Juan Williams was not simply a victim of "selective editing" by his antagonists at ThinkProgress, who hated Juan simply because he dared associate with Fox News.

Juan was more significantly a vicitm of "selective enforcement" of NPR's own standards. Cokie Roberts and Nina Totenberg have been appearing on television for years, offering up all manner of opinions and punditry. The only reason to presume that they were never disciplined is that their opinions were "safely" liberal and "politically correct," and were expressed on safely liberal and politically correct news outlets.

Next show, get Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard, to offer you his views as an extension of his thoughtful series of columns on the firing of Juan Williams:

Oct. 24 2010 12:15 AM
I.M.Knotfooled from Brooklyn NYC

What a Crock

NPR does not like a Black Man speaking his mind.

NPR should not be funded by Government Money. They are now just a propaganda machine for Barack Hussein Obama and any other views are silenced by Government Media employees.

What ever happened to views from all sources & sides.

Now Fox News is the only place that a Liberal Black Man can voice his views.

Can anyone be really certain that a reporter on NPR is speaking their views or are they holding back as they are concerned that they will be Juan William'd!

Defund NPR from Government Funds...............They are not professional and are biased.

The Leftist Socialists at NPR don't allow any view but their own on NPR Government funded media.

Oct. 23 2010 11:35 PM
Bort from Syracuse

Please do a story on journalist public-neutrality requirements. Are they common? Are they a good idea?

Oct. 23 2010 04:26 PM
Bort from Syracuse

Wow. I would certainly expect a FAR better treatment of this subject from OtM. You, of all shows, should have gotten this right.

Your most basic error was to bring on a single commentator, one who took Juan Williams's side. Yes, this is one of the topics where you need to cover both sides.

There was also serious bias in your own analysis. You proclaim that Williams is not actually a bigot because he disavowed his earlier bigotted remarks by saying that only SOME Muslims are dangerous. Yet what he really said, and you quoted this, was "There are people who want to somehow remind us ...". I'm sorry, how can you possibly read that phrase to mean "I remind you ..."?!? The weasel words "there are people" and "somehow" indicate that he clearly does not include himself.

And this non-disavowal is not a fluke. His statements after he was fired consisted of justifications for his fears, not explanations that what he really meant was that his fears were not justified. Clearly you WANT to think that your associate Juan is not a bigot, and you find supporting evidence where there is none.

Also, you fail to note that Juan's fears are irrational for a completely different reason: none of the terrorists wore Muslim garb. Future terrorists won't, either. If you are afraid of Muslim garb, it's not because you are afraid of terrorists, it's because you are afraid of Muslims. Why would you transfer your fear to Islam, rather than, say, neatly dressed young males? It is further evidence of bigotry.

Finally, you give short shrift to the fact that it is IRRELEVANT whether Juan is a bigot or not. He was fired for repeatedly violating the stipulations of his employment contract, which require him to maintain a public reputation of neutrality.

I am VERY disappointed.

Oct. 23 2010 04:14 PM

God, can we stop talking about "the left" as if were one giant organism? Someone leaves a rude comment on YouTube, and instead of blaming the comment on an idiot with no manners who doesn't like Bush, the offensive comment is attributed to "the left".

Plenty of so-called liberals have been critical of this decision, and I'm sure that many more would be if they weren't uncomfortable agreeing with a bunch of aggresive internet posters who believe that George Soros was the one who made the actual decision.

Oct. 23 2010 03:50 PM
Eric from Torringtion

Um. Did the last few people who commented actually listen to the article?

Definitely agree with the parallels with the Sherrod firing. Just a little too late to hire him back now. On the other hand, if Fox turns out to be a good fit for him, maybe we shouldn't want him back.

I also find it kind of hilarious hearing Reuplicans decrying NPR as showing its "liberal" colors.

Oct. 23 2010 03:29 PM

Was hoping you guys would parse the timing here a bit.

Was it a slick move by:

1. Williams, who received a multimillion dollar contract with Fox just days after this firing?

(A "No-NPR" clause in this contract might answer this question, should he choose to disclose...).

2. NPR, who fired Williams the first day of WNYC and many other affiliates' Fall Fund Drives -- had they calculated this as a bold stroke meant to invigorate the pocketbooks of those legions of (usually PC) anti-Williams listeners? (And if so, is this proof that the PC wing of the NPR listenership the should be considered the NPR "Base?"}

Was probably at least one of the above. And I do expect the answer will come out fairly soon.

Oct. 23 2010 03:15 PM
Rosie Hanson from Oregon

I support NPR's decision to fire Mr. Williams. Seeing Mr. Williams on Fox with the NPR sign under his name was offensive to me. Thanks again. Rosie

Oct. 23 2010 02:31 PM
Elizabeth from Los Angeles, CA

I agree and support the firing of Mr. Williams! I do not agree with his comments and his stereotype of Muslims. The terrorists were not wearing traditional Muslim clothes...that alone shows the level of ignorance he holds regardless of his degree.

Oct. 23 2010 01:26 PM
jorge from Detroit

I am troubled by the firing.
But that is what will happen on NPR
if it seems as if your perceptions of people
are questionable and support divisive stereotypes.
While on FOX that is both the norm and the purpose.
FOX will never fire anyone for what Mr. Williams said..especially..if they've never fired O'Rielly or the like.

Oct. 23 2010 10:20 AM
Robert from New York City

Whoa, "Just a Thought". When O'Donnell was read the passage from the First Amendment that prohibits laws respecting an establishment of religion, she didn't know where it came from. That amendment does effectively separate church and state, and it definitely is in the constitution, even if she doesn't know it. If people think that ignorance in office will be the solution to our country's problems, just remember who was in charge for the eight years when so much of our current mess was created.

Oct. 23 2010 10:12 AM
Just a Thought

I like how you posted only part of the segment to prove a point. That was very inventive and clever however the segment in its entirety went on to make a very flawed comparison of the Williams-Sherrod cases.
This kind of selective editing (and attention span) can be included with other glaring examples this week of some on the left jumping to unfair conclusions.
Christine O'Donnell being laughed at for suggesting that "separation of church and state" is not in the First Amendment when actually it is not there.
Sarah Palin being mocked on Twitter for saying at a Tea Party event in Nevada that on Election Day we can "party like its 1773"... (not 1776). The Boston Tea Party took place in 1773. In both cases, these women were correct and their jeering critics were wrong.
All of the unfair political attack ads this year are too numerous to mention. Thanks

Oct. 23 2010 09:05 AM
Ted from Ann Arbor

Companies do not fire a long-standing employee over the telephone. Unless , of course, they are waiting for a pretext to get rid of a minority staffer that they have a non performance-related problem with.

What NPR CEO Vivian Schiller said about Mr. Williams (that he should be talking about these matters to "his psychiatrist") was really much worse. It is insinuating that he needs mental health care services and that his views, in fact, are "crazy." That sort of comment by a senior manager about an employee would get you fired at many companies. The public members of the NPR Board of Directors should call Ms. Schiller on the carpet right now over this.

The sounds the board are hearing: the fall NPR membership campaign hitting the wall, and the calls for revisiting public NPR funding in the new Congress.

Oct. 23 2010 08:32 AM
Robert from New York City

By the way, I am disappointed to have found this segment only online. WNYC was playing a 'best of public radio segment' at 7:00 as part of fundraising. WHY?? Would airing the truth about the firing of Juan Williams have been bad for business????? The tin ears within NPR and its stations have abounded this week!

Oct. 23 2010 07:49 AM
Robert from New York City

Mr Saletan is right. If Juan Williams' presence on Fox Noise was indeed a longstanding issue, there should have been a solution long ago -- or absent that, a serious conversation the next time his contract came up. To choose this moment to can him is beyond absurd. He said nothing wrong, as Mr Saletan and others have astutely pointed out. The ranters on the right are having a field day with this. Unfortunately, this time they have a point, and Ms. Schiller has given it to them on a silver platter. NPR is bigger than she is, and her irresponsible actions are now threatening to give new momentum to movements to de-fund the network. NPR is a treasure that she has damaged and does not deserve to lead. One hopes that if anyone is de-funded, it is Ms. Schiller.

Oct. 23 2010 07:47 AM
Robin Datta

I lived amongst those people for my first 24 years and felt nervous enough to leave the place and come to 'mericuh - perhaps a year and a half after they machine-gunned the entire congregation at the Grudwara in Dacca (now Dhaka) East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
I did not feel nervous in the uS Army (lower case "u" as in the Declaration of Independence).

Oct. 23 2010 01:50 AM
Maria from Manhattan

I find it hard to believe that the NPR managament fires Williams on the basis of an edited excerpt. As you waited until the end of the segment to point out, he was troubling them earlier. As for Williams trying to be "pedagogical", please. Is Bill O'Reilly a 5 year old? Once you accept a recurring role in the setting of those shows, you become a token player in that circus.
We owe it partly to Rupert Murdoch, the infantile notion that if you dump journalistic standards and throw a right winger against a leftist ( what passes for left in this country is viewed as a joke abroad) you are absolved of the need to get mature and balanced coverage of events.
Since when every fact lends itself to a conservative and a liberal interpretation? That's how you end up with the worst crop of illiterate candidates produced in a single election.
Juan Williams preaching restraint to O'Reilly is like me defending feminism to Silvio Berlusconi. Williams confirmed he should be gone by immediately playing the race card attacking NPR's journalist standards and calling himself the only black male on the air. Then he insulted our intelligence further by dragging the honorable and recently deceased Daniel Schorr, who was in Nixon's enemy list, as a fellow persecuted. And finally he went on the air to whine about NPR having a problem with Fox. As they should!
Finally, read the Howard Kurtz 1991 account of Williams outrageous behavior with female staffers at the Washington Post, before the Anita Hill hearings. If his behavior had come to light in this decade, we might not be speaking about him at all. Williams wrote, that year, that Anita Hill had no credibility. What an ironic coincidence that the porn-loving Clarence Thomas has been outed yet again this week by a former girlfriend, a respected former prosecutor.
Now, Williams has all the money and the right boss to pursue his notion of credibility.

Oct. 23 2010 12:30 AM
Just a Thought

Why is it that Juan William's colleagues and viewers at FOX never cared about his work at NPR yet NPR listeners seemed terribly angered by him appearing on FOX.
Why the obsession with FOX and why the intolerance? Williams is the latest of a long line of liberals who dared to partially stray from the leftist orthodoxy and learned that their "friends" on the left can be far, far more vindictive and nasty than those they have ever debated on the right.

Oct. 22 2010 11:23 PM
David from Lawrenceville, NJ

Enrique has a point. As tax-paying funders of NPR, we share in Mr. Williams firing. Why would I want to support that kind of operation?

Oct. 22 2010 11:10 PM
J. Enrique Ibarra from New York

Juan Williams was talking about feelings. Not about actions of himself against anybody. I understand that and is not racist. Would you be called racist, if in the 70s, and maybe today, walk in any street of Harlem or South Bronx and have feelings that you are in a high crime area?

How many people have died in the last ten years or so, by the so called peaceful religion? Is it racist to have careful feeling about a religion where women have less value than any kind of animal?

I love classical music, but I am thinking twice about a contribution, when decisions are make just to look politically correct.

Oct. 22 2010 10:55 PM
Potomacker from Nanjing, PRC

Wow, it's getting so a multimillionaire talkinghead can hardly make off the cuff remarks with a competing network's demagogue and have his boss ignore them.
In the meantime, I am vigilantly reviewing videotape to make certain that no NPR journalist set foot at the Colbert/TDS rallies lest the reputation of NPR for for objectivity be compromised. Of course, I take an occasional break to listen to what Mara Liasson has to say on Fox or Cokie Roberts has to say on ABC because it's important to see things from so many different perspectives.
All snark aside, is anybody going to miss Williams from the NPR roster?

Oct. 22 2010 10:52 PM

It was okay for former NPR Pentagon reporter Guy Raz to donate to the Kerry for president 2004 fund.

He got promoted to ATC Weekend host!

Oct. 22 2010 10:37 PM

There's a LONG list of Williams' journalistic sins. This firing wasn't JUST because of his comments Monday, and it's unfortunate that NPR offered that up as a rationale for his firing. Williams wanted Faux News' tainted moolah; now he has it. He made his choice.

Oct. 22 2010 09:59 PM
William E. Stevens from Detroit

NPR: I am saddened tht Juan Williams was fired. I know you have a difficult job, but I think your decision was a knee-jerk decision. Furrthermore it is not consistent with an important part of what you are supposed to be about. I am speaking of your claim that you provide indepth reporting. I just finished reading the Slate article concerning William's firing, and the full story re Williams's appearance on the Bill O'Reilly show. Did you view the entire interview of Williams? If you did not, you were irresponsible; and if you did how on earth did you decide that Williams's remarks were out-of-line? Did you panic? Was there someone, a group, that you felt you had to appease? Were you were afraid that Williiams's remarks would provoke some Muslims, and that they might decide to retaliate because they were offended. We push their button and they cannot be held accountable for responding violently? Please, anyone, I don't care who, if you are offended by someone's remarks; you are responsible for what you do in response. Men, I don't care what your beliefs are, Muslim, Christian, Jew, atheist, Hindu, whatever, if a woman stirs you up, you are responsible for your response. You have a mind. You're not an automaton, a robot - are you?

Oct. 22 2010 09:38 PM
Zen Mediation 201

If Juan Williams sees a woman in Muslim Garb walking toward him in a dark alley -- who crosses?

Oct. 22 2010 09:35 PM
David from Lawrenceville, NJ

Thanks for your story on this. It was good to hear an extensive clip, and Mr. Saletan is sage in his remarks.

It would have been good to investigate O'Reilly's contention of monies coming from George Soros for a new show this week and how suddenly Mr. Williams, who has commented on Fox for years is suddenly out of line.

And why Juan? Why fire the only African American male on the network when Nina Totenberg can speak of a Jesse Helms death wish, Gwen Ifill’s can attempt to mock Sarah Palin this week (turns out it was Ifill, not Palin, who got her history wrong. Whoops!), Terry Gross is constantly worried about Christian fundametalists, Michel Martin CAN and DID imply that Catholicism or Christianity in general had some connection to Timothy McVeigh blowing up the Murrah Federal Building? Earlier this year, NPR openly speculated without any evidence that historic Cardinal John Henry Newman was gay. Terry Gross was horrified at the “very extreme” Franklin Graham ruining the image of the United States.

I remember when "liberal left" meant "all views are worth discussing. But this is the "authoritarian left" where only some views are right.

Oct. 22 2010 08:46 PM

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