Should Juan Williams have been fired?

(note: There are numerous updates to this post. The latest is posted at the bottom.)

The story of the day today seems to be NPR’s firing of Juan Williams, who exercised the poor judgment to go on Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox to admit to being concerned when he sees Muslims on an airplane, but cautioned O’Reilly not to brand Muslims as terrorists. Because O’Reilly makes all discussions about O’Reilly, the forum does not allow a guest the opportunity for full explanation. Williams, by all accounts a pretty smart guy, had to know that O’Reilly uses guests as props for his own version of reality. And last week O’Reilly did brand Muslims as terrorists.

NPR has tried to find a comfortable role for Williams since his failed stint as the host of Talk of the Nation. It kept trying to find a role for him at the network, finally settling on “news analyst,” a partial admission that he had opinions.

After he compared Michelle Obama to “Stokely Carmichael in a dress” on Fox in February 2009, NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard wrote that she’s not convinced NPR listeners objected to what Williams said, but where he said it:

That may be the cause of the criticism. Williams tends to speak one way on NPR and another on Fox.

His “Stokely Carmichael” comment got the attention of NPR’s top managers. They are in a bind because Williams is no longer a staff employee but an independent contractor. As a contract news analyst, NPR doesn’t exercise control over what Williams says outside of NPR.

“Juan Williams is a contributor to NPR programs as a news analyst,” said Ron Elving, NPR’s Washington editor. “What he says on NPR is the product of a journalistic process that includes editors. What he says when he is not on our air is not within our control. But we recognize that what he says elsewhere reflects on NPR, and we have discussed that fact with him specifically in regard to his remarks on Fox News regarding Michelle Obama.”

This recent comment may have undermined his credibility with some NPR listeners. But I question whether listeners, overall, object to what Williams says outside of NPR or the fact that he says it on Fox.

There were almost 2,000 comments on the NPR story about Williams’ firing, but it’s difficult to get a sense of what public radio listeners think about it because one popular conservative blogger urged his legions to go there and fill the comments section.

But here are two that define the general reaction.

First from one who opposes the NPR action:

I have been listening to NPR for decades, literally. I could not believe this story when I heard it. Now that I know that it is true, I am nothing short of furious and deeply disappointed. Juan Williams is one of the few voices of reason out there. He represents a viewpoint, to be sure. But unlike all the screaming voices out there, he is a reasonable and brilliant man. As such he reaches across the great chasm that divides our people. There are others on both sides of the political spectrum that are like Juan, but very few. This was a reactionary and incredibly stupid blunder on NPR’s part. Unless he is reinstated, I am done with NPR. No more contributions, no more listening.

I should point out here that public radio stations and NPR are two different entities.

And one from a person who supports NPR’s move.

I agree with NPR’s decision. NPR is the only news source I trust in the current news media environment where objectivity is either optional or not even on the menu. It is inexcusable to paint all Muslims with a broad brush. His comments about McVeigh and Cristianity do not disguise his intent to promote an unfounded irrational fear of Muslims. NPR saw right through it… and so did I. Thanks NPR.

Your turn:

Should NPR have fired Juan Williams?survey software

Williams was an occasional guest on MPR’s Midday. His last appearance was in December when he evaluated Barack Obama’s first year in office:

Update 11:37 a.m. – Williams responded to his firing today.

Update 1:04 p.m. – Sara Meyer, Midday producer, reminds me that Williams’ last appearance on Midday was last month.

Update 1:09 p.m. – The head of NPR has sent this out to public radio stations, who are apparently bearing the heat from NPR’s action:

First, a critical distinction has been lost in this debate. NPR News analysts have a distinctive role and set of responsibilities. This is a very different role than that of a commentator or columnist. News analysts may not take personal public positions on controversial issues; doing so undermines their credibility as analysts, and that’s what’s happened in this situation. As you all well know, we offer views of all kinds on your air every day, but those views are expressed by those we interview – not our reporters and analysts.

Second, this isn’t the first time we have had serious concerns about some of Juan’s public comments. Despite many conversations and warnings over the years, Juan has continued to violate this principal.

Third, these specific comments (and others made in the past), are inconsistent with NPR’s ethics code, which applies to all journalists (including contracted analysts):

“In appearing on TV or other media . . . NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist. They should not participate in shows . . . that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis.”

More fundamentally, “In appearing on TV or other media including electronic Web-based forums, NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist.”

Unfortunately, Juan’s comments on Fox violated our standards as well as our values and offended many in doing so.

We’re profoundly sorry that this happened during fundraising week. Juan’s comments were made Monday night and we did not feel it would be responsible to delay this action.

This was a tough decision and we appreciate your support.

1:51 p.m. — Ombudsman Alicia Shepard, appearing on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, gave us a preview of the column she’s promising on the subject “I think it’s just that the different roles that Juan played — being a news analyst — worked for NPR but it didn’t work for NPR to be more inflammatory. And people think what he said about Muslims was inflammatory and didn’t advance the debate,” she said.

2:18 p.m. – Poynter is hosting a live chat on the issue. Go here.

3:33 p.m. – Williams gets a big payday from Fox. $2 million over three years.

4:15 p.m. – Here’s the Talk of the Nation segment, a portion of which had been cut by MPR because of the membership drive.

  • boB from WA

    Umm, how do you “fire” an independent contractor? Still, I think that NPR should have thought this through. If Cokie Roberts says something controversial on ABC, will she too be “let go” from the NPR roster? Even if Mr. Williams didn’t have the best judgment to be on Mr. O’Reillys show, to have a reasoned voice on Fox seems like a smart move on Mr. Williams part.

  • John O.

    I obviously don’t know if Juan Williams was an “employee” of NPR (“employee” in this context is salary, benefits, 401k, etc.) or if he was a “contract employee” receiving a paycheck, but no benefits. Nor do I obviously know the details of his Fox deal. Or any other gigs he might have out there.

    My own guess is that Fox increases his visibility and paycheck, giving Beck, O’Reilly and Hannity a chance to take more potshots at NPR early and often. Whether Williams will join them in taking those same potshots remains to be seen.

  • Jim Shapiro

    One of the reasons that the left/progressives are deeply despised by many in this country is that political correctness trumps reality.

    There is a difference between description and prescription, which sadly seems to elude many adherents to political correctness.

    Williams was merely honestly describing how he feels ( and who among us can deny a similar reaction?). He was in no way attempting to promote an agenda.

    Here’s a sad but true joke. Question: What’s the difference between a cannibal and a leftist/progressive? Answer: A cannibal only eats his enemies.

  • Bob Collins

    Williams was a contract employee, so from a legal perspective, I presume NPR had the same right to terminate his services as they do the right to get rid of the company that supplies the coffee in the cafeteria.

  • Joe

    He was describing his personal feelings and anxiety, what he feels. He didn’t brand anybody so to speak, he just made a comment to his personal reality. Since when is that off limits?

  • John

    Of course he shouldn’t have been fired. This is absurd. When you start firing liberals for saying things like this, you really cede control of the entire issue to Tea Party conservatives. Is that what you want? Because they’ll run with it, and the American public will say: well, we don’t like the Tea Party people, but at least they aren’t afraid to speak the truth about obvious things. So you lose politically. I’m a liberal and I’m saying this, so don’t jump all over me, knee-jerkers.

  • Deb

    I think NPR should have used Juan’s comments as an opportunity for opening a discussion. It sounds like he wasn’t screaming or ranting – he offered his honest response to seeing people in muslim dress on a plane. Why deny that his sentiment exists? Why not explore it? It might have brought in others who have the same reponse and aren’t completely comfortable with their response, but it might have also brought in people who acknowledge their response but manage to control it or deal with it constructively. I hate to say it, but NPR’s actions just add to the polarized viewpoints currently prevelant in society. We need reasoned dialogue. Even when it is politically uncomfortable. Also – you gave the right wing ranters (and one dimensional thinkers) material to further their self righteous indignation. Damn.

  • Jeanne

    For me, there are two matters at question: one, Williams status as an NPR employee and two, what he said.

    This statement from the article linked in the 5×8 piece is a red flag: “Williams’ presence on the largely conservative and often contentious prime-time talk shows of Fox News has long been a sore point with NPR News executives.” It appears, from that statement, that NPR has had issues with Williams before. Was the fallout from the O’Reilly appearance just an opportunity to cut him loose? If so, that’s a sad comment on how NPR handles conflict with their employees.

    And then there’s the matter of what Williams said. I haven’t seen the clip of his appearance on O’Reilly’s show to get the full context, but from what I read, it sounds that Williams was only stating what some think about Muslims. And what’s so wrong with that? In my opinion, the world has gotten so politically correct that we can’t open an HONEST dialogue about religion and race. I don’t think we can work through our biases, as ignorant as they may be in some instances, until we can state our beliefs without fear of retribution. In efforts to be politically correct, we cut off the conversation at the first hint that what is said might offend someone.

  • Tommy Griffith

    Juan Williams was exactly right on his comments about Muslims on airplanes. It shows again how bias NPR really is. Until moderate Muslims, by their actions, prove to the American public they are really against the Muslim terrorists we have no reason to trust them. Just look what has happened in Europe. If Muslims want to live here they will have to accept our Constitution as law . Sharia Law is not compatible. Many times I have disagreed with Mr. Williams but I do respect him for his views and hope he will be hired full time by FOX. Too bad for NPR. Mr. Williams will get a lot of support over this I am positive.

  • Bob Collins

    I just posted the full video of Williams’ appearance. I couldn’t find a full episode earlier and noticed that the partisan Web sites had edited them down to favor their point and I didn’t want to do that.

  • Kris K

    Manufactured conservative angst aside about political correctness (god forbid if Williams had questioned the integrity of Rush Limbaugh instead of random muslims on a plane), I think it was a bad decision no the part of NPR.

    While I didn’t always agree with Williams, I generally benefitted from hearing his perspective. Who cares if he gets nervous about seeing muslims on a plane? It doesn’t mean he’s racist or xenophobic, it doesn’t mean he treats muslims differently than nonmuslims in any sort of meaningful way. It’s typically not material to the opinions he expresses on public radio.

    What on odd move coming from NPR. The same NPR which refused to call waterboarding torture, instead relying on the ridiculous phrase “enhanced interrogation”. It seems like they’re a bit confused about who to capitulate to, maybe they’re hoping they can average out to unbiased.

  • Bob Collins
  • Heather

    I think the firing seems extreme. Mr. Williams is certainly not the only person to have the feelings he described, and we need to recognize those feelings if we are to address them in our country.

    I also think that it sounds like NPR was walking an uncomfortable line with his employment status to begin with. I don’t know how common it is for NPR to hire reporters or analysts as contract workers, but it seems clear that if he’d had the full security of being an NPR employee, they might not have needed to worry about him working at Fox at all.

  • Momma Patty

    I have always found Juan Williams’ comments thoughtful, and although I did not always agree with him, his viewpoints were honest. Why is it so wrong to be honest about being nervous boarding a plane? Have not those thoughts run through our own minds? It seems a real shame that only guarded viewpoints can be proclaimed on “public” radio. I have to wonder what the definition of public is? If that means a narrow-minded, liberal viewpoint, I’m not sure why tax payer money should be paying for a public forum like this.

  • I don’t know, Bob.

    I dislike strongly what he said. I think it was offensive to an entire culture. I came up with variations, and it sounds ridiculous or offensive if you substitute any other ethnic or religious group.

    Is what he said a firing offense? He IS an analyst and is paid to give his opinion. Should that opinion be silenced on NPR?

    I don’t know.

  • JackU

    I’ve worked as a contract employee for multiple companies at one time. Granted my job does not put me in the public spotlight but that doesn’t change my opinion of what happened. As a contractor the first thing you want to make sure is that your actions for one employer don’t cause headaches for another employer. For example, I’m an IT Professional and I deal with software licenses. If I was involved with using unauthorized (aka “pirated”) software at one location any other client I was employed by would have to deal with investigations if I was caught. Even if I had advised the client using the unauthorized software against such action and had triggered the exit clause of the contract. If I’m caught up in that situation then it will cause problems for my other clients.

    In this situation maybe NPR had been spending a little too much time defending Mr Williams right to say what he wants on other outlets. Maybe they decided that the time their ombudsman and others are spending on “cleaning up” these issues is better spent doing something else. Is it right? Is it fair? Probably not. Is it understandable?

    To me it’s understandable and justified.

  • Sue

    I watched the show and thought Juan said what a lot of Americans believe. Enough with the “Political Correctness” positions already.

  • larry carr

    I think the ones who should be fired are the ones that made the dissions to fire jaun williams. All he did was state a opinion that most people agree with. I don’t want my tax dollars going to a program that thinks and acts like these dummies.

  • Bob Collins

    //I think it was offensive to an entire culture.

    I’m not entirely sure — other than admitting his nervousness — where Williams is expressing a view markedly different from Michael Bloomberg.

    What I heard was a guy acknowledging an irrational fear and doing so to make these points:

    >> Blaming Muslims for 9/11 is like blaming Christians for Oklahoma City or the Westboro Baptist Church.

    >> Germany has not properly helped Muslims assimilate into German society.

    >> Heightened rhetoric like O’Reilly’s leads to violence against Muslims and people shouldn’t lose their rights because of O’Reilly’s comments about Muslims.

    My concern about the debate so far — I can take or leave Juan Williams — is that people are going to their respective corners (left and right) and not really analyzing what Williams said. I do see liberals and conservatives getting together on one thing — they think Williams is agreeing with O’Reilly. He’s not.

  • Wow, lots of new commenters today. Adam Serwer at The Plum Line remembered to include Juan Williams’ initial statement to O’Reilly:

    Well, actually, I hate to say this to you because I don’t want to get your ego going. But I think you’re right. I think, look, political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don’t address reality.

    The reality O’Reilly and Williams were addressing is that they feel it’s reasonable to fear Muslims.

    Williams really does play it both ways. On NPR he’s a voice of caution to liberals, but on Fox he’s a liberal validation for paleo-conservative attacks on the so-called liberal establishment.

    Good riddance to Williams, and here’s hoping NPR gets around to reviewing Mara Liasson’s voluminous Fox News files.

  • John

    Regarding Paul’s comment:

    “I dislike strongly what he said. I think it was offensive to an entire culture. I came up with variations, and it sounds ridiculous or offensive if you substitute any other ethnic or religious group.”

    Yes, it does sound ridiculous if you substitute any other ethnic or religious group, because, honestly, frankly, truthfully….Muslims are the only religious or ethnic group that have attacked Americans regularly over the last 20 years. Radical Muslims – NOT ALL MUSLIMS – yes, yes, I know this. Sure, you have a Timothy McVeigh or a Eric Rudolph here and there, but by and large, these are the facts: the vast, VAST majority of terrorist attacks have come from radical Muslims.

    So what’s absurd is to suggest that you can “substitute” another ethnic or religious group into Williams’ statement. You can’t. Because no other religious or ethnic group HAS attacked Americans the way radical Muslims have. That is a fact. An inconvenient truth. Facts are stubborn things.

  • bill

    No he should not have been fired. His research and writings on Civil Rights are brilliant. He was expressing his feelings and identified them as that. I wonder who complained.

  • by and large, these are the facts: the vast, VAST majority of terrorist attacks have come from radical Muslims.

    Actually, they just crunched all the terrorism attacks in Europe over the past decade, and virtually all of them came from separatists, not Muslims.

    Common knowledge on terrorism tends to be a cess pool of inflammatory accusations that are very weak on actual facts. Tim McVeigh is a very big “exception” to any rule of thumb, especially in a country where the domestic extreme right has been responsible for virtually all non-9/11 terrorism since the end of the Vietnam War.

  • Bob Collins

    // The reality O’Reilly and Williams were addressing is that they feel it’s reasonable to fear Muslims.

    The problem with that is that later in the conversation he says exactly the opposite.

    If you watch the entire clip, I *think* you see a guy debating O’Reilly.

    I look forward to the day when TV talk shows are required to let people finish their sentences.

  • Jeanne

    Thanks for posting the video, Bob.

    I have to say after watching the video that I’m more inclined to think that Williams should NOT have been fired. The conversation references O’Reilly’s Talking Points memo and his recent appearance on “The View.” I went back and watched the video from “The View” (and believe me I had to do some searching to get the full video, not just the “sound bite” bits) where O’Reilly made the statement that “Muslims killed us on 9/11.”

    Williams, in the video posted here, tells O’Reilly that his statement on “The View” should have indicated that these were “extremists.” O’Reilly goes on to talk about political correctness; in effect, he should be allowed to say anything he wants, but that he has to “be careful” because of PC. Then Williams states, “Be yourself, but take responsibility.”

    I thought the point Williams made was spot on. O’Reilly tends to make blanket statements, incriminating large groups of people in one fell swoop. He knows it gets viewers, which gets advertisers, which gets money.

    There’s a fine line between opening the conversation, without being censored by political correctness, and yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theatre.

  • Bob Moffitt

    If you sleep with Foxes, don’t be surprised if you get fleas.

    Whenever you start a comment by saying, “I’m not a bigot, but….” you should just stop right there.

    Jaun didn’t listen to the “little voice” in his head saying this is not a good idea and plowed on. That’s why he lost his job.

    I like the guy, but he made just one too many “error in judgement.” His firing was justified.

  • Josh

    I’m with NPR on this one. Aside from the fact that it was totally within it’s rights to terminate a contract, NPR’s move is good for journalistic integrity.

    As someone who has views that fit into both parties, one party and neither party, I can safely say that NPR is the last place I can turn to to get great reporting and fact based analysis. Mr. Williams comments were uninformed opinion, NOT ANALYSIS, regardless of the content of his remarks. It is absolutely ludicrous what passes for “analysis” these days. I applaud NPR for drawing a firm line in the sand and upholding its image as the last bastion for real American journalism.

  • But aren’t we better than profiling and irrational fears, John? That leads to tribalism. Encouraging tribalism is a bad idea, especially for a multicultural country.

    I keep seeing the phrase inconvenient truth slanged around, lately, but a drumbeat of “its an inconvenient truth that it was Muslims that attacked us for the last 20 years” is a good way to foster tribalism, clash of civilizations and other toxic ideas.

    Would the British have been justified in profiling everyone of Irish descent or with an Irish accent or just having red hair during the worst of the IRA bombings in the 70s and 80s?

  • Jeanne

    @Mark Gisleson, “Wingnuts freeping MPR poll.” Trying to swing the results on the News Cut poll, don’t you have anything better to do with your time?

  • David Koski

    What I am way more afraid of are the people on the wealthy golf courses, plotting terror and destruction. They get a free pass and have everyone worried about skin color and nationality. The corporate/CIA contingent in the USA is to be the most feared. Instead they have us looking at people that are obviously different.

    The righties on this comment section have sold out for a cheap dollar or are just too stupid to realize that they are working for free.

  • John

    Mark Gisleson-

    this one is a real stretch:

    “especially in a country where the domestic extreme right has been responsible for virtually all non-9/11 terrorism since the end of the Vietnam War”

    OK….aside from the Oklahoma City bombings and Olympic Park bombing, how many of these were not committed by radical Muslims?

  • Dave Detlie

    I admire people like Juan Williams, who are comfortable talking about uncomfortable subjects, and doing so in a reasonable manner.

    The college educated elitists that make up the large majority of public radio’s employees and listeners will bend over backwards to be tolerant of anyone except working class whites, conservatives and those openly christian. And now apparently a black man who associates with ‘those types’.

  • Nope. But they HAD to.

    Juan Williams’ edginess probably isn’t only limited to Muslims. He likely fears Caucasians in certain situations as well (as do I):

    though I doubt he’d lose his job for saying so.

    The fact of the matter is that, in certain situations, certain ethnicities DO fit profiles that justify, at the very LEAST, nervousness:

    Liberals, as everyone knows, can NOT be racists. But I understand (as does anybody who’s ever HEARD public radio) that NPR can’t have commentators go around speaking their OWN mind, either…


  • Bob Collins

    Just for the newcomers — we don’t do the whole “you righties are jerks” and “you lefties are jerks” thing on News Cut.

    Stick the issue of Juan Williams or go to any of the other 1 million comment boards for the nonsense.

  • Sorry, Bob.

    Guilty as charged, and I should have known better.

    Back on topic: I read the transcript. It does look like that opening gambit on his part is far worse than the remainder of the discussion on his part. It looks far worse out of context than in context. In context, his comments are far less offensive.

  • Jeanne Souldern

    After reading Paul’s comment and watching the follow-up video that was posted with Williams’ post-firing comments makes me wonder if the NPR powers-that-be watched the whole O’Reilly segment. Would love to know the answer to that one.

  • Matt

    Here’s a thought exercise: Let’s imagine Mara Liasson is on Bill O’Reilly and she offhandedly says something like, “You know, I’m not a racist, but when I walk down the street alone and see a black man coming my direction, I get nervous and a little scared. I clutch my purse, I look around to see if someone would hear my calls for help. I don’t want to sound politically incorrect, but it’s a fear that a lot of people have.”

    Would we be having a problem with her (hypothetical) firing? (Apologies to Liasson — I’d never imagine her saying such a thing.)

    I’m still not saying that such a swift firing was necessary here. And however reasoned his arguments were after these “worried” feelings he has, it doesn’t change the sentiment of his words. Was this knee-jerk-ism? Of course. Should they fired him in person instead of over the phone? Of course.

    But his sentiments require examining, in my book. Think about Don Imus. Helen Thomas. Rick Sanchez. When journalists and talking heads — of any color — start saying stuff that doesn’t match what the news organization wants as part of their coverage, they pay the price. It’s not censorship, it’s an editorial decision. Does NPR want to pay someone for his views when this xenophobic fear is part of it?

  • Tom

    NPR is wrong. Has political correctness reached a point to where a person cannot state how he or she feels? To all who beleive NPR is not biased – get a clue!

  • Bill T

    Bob, you noted that Juan had failed in his stint as Talk of the Nation host. I enjoyed him as host of the program, and never recognized that his time there was regarded as a failure. Did he lose listeners?

  • Charles

    I have listened to Juan on MPR and Fox for years. I think he has always been thoughtful, honest, informed and truthful. From what I can tell the comments in question were honest feelings in connected to a horrible event. The comments did not strike me as racist.

    However I think a person that is in the national spotlight has to be very very sensitive on issues of race and religion. In that regard I think he should not have disclosed these feelings on Fox.

    In any case I think NPR over reacted and the speed with which they acted leaves me wondering if they were just waiting for a chance to fire him.

  • Matt Dieveney

    Right or wrong, at least he’s honest… and logical. We learn from experience and experience has demonstrated we are currently at most risk of terrorist attacks from Muslims.

  • Bob Collins

    //but when I walk down the street alone and see a black man coming my direction, I get nervous and a little scared. I clutch my purse, I look around to see if someone would hear my calls for help. I don’t want to sound politically incorrect, but it’s a fear that a lot of people have.”

    The question I have isn’t whether Liasson would have those sentiments, it’s whether we’ve ever had those sentiments.

    To be honest with you, someone who starts by acknowledging those feelings, makes me inclined to think I’m about to have a conversation with someone who is honestly sharing a feeling. In return, I have to reward that honesty by not assuming that the person is revealing them out of pride (although he/she may be).

    In any event, it strikes me as an invitation to conversation

  • Gerald Myking

    I love that guy, at times I diagree with him sometimes I do agree. Recently the question of fair and balanced was discussed on MPR. What’s fair and balanced about this? If he is an enemy remember to keep them closer. Is NPR stating we only support Liberal views? A missed opportunity to confront an issue? Feelings are not allowed to be expressed because they legitimize an issue? If he is able to go on with O’Reilly he would have the courage to be raked over the coals by NPR wouldn’t he? Or maybe no one would be interested in an in depth interview with Juan about this issue?

  • Justin

    @ Matt Dieveney: “We learn from experience and experience has demonstrated we are currently at most risk of terrorist attacks from Muslims.” This comment goes directly to the point of the matter. Until we can all get a dose of reality and admit that it was not “Muslims” but “extremists” who attacked us on 9/11, we are never going to be able to move forward in this country. At what point do we allow the xenophobic extremists from our own country to destroy everything that makes this country great? If we allow one group of people to be branded by a few wingnuts on the fringe, we are no better than those who attacked us. It is high time in this great nation (of which I am very proud to say I am a veteran) that we put aside the extreme views of BOTH sides of the political spectrum and get down to the business of living our lives and trying to work together. There is no good reason for the hatred, vitriol, and spite that seems to have taken over the country in the past decade. I have to spend an inordinate amount of time now explaining to my children that no, the world is not just people who hate each other, but that’s all that they see on television and in the news.

  • bsimon

    This far surpasses the banning of NPR employees from the comedy central rallies as a PR blunder on the part of NPR.

    It kindof makes a guy wonder who’s calling the shots over there. Maybe they cancelled the wrong contract.

  • Tony

    On this the last day of the membersip drive, I will not be renewing my membership because of this incident

  • Pat

    I am voting with my money. Just cancelled my sustaining membership

  • Terry Hayes

    Both Juan Williams and Mara Liasson should be out on their ears.

  • Matt

    @Bob: He didn’t say Americans feel this way, he said he feels that way. I think that’s a key difference. And it’s still xenophobia. Whether you or I or anyone thinks they are justified, it’s still xenophobia.

    Personally, I’m over the whole “let’s start a conversation” thing when it comes to people in positions of media influence espousing views that are bigoted or bone-headed. I’m over teachable moments. I’m tired of having to retread the same conversations I had in high school, in college diversity seminars, in the workplace, at the coffee shop, about this sort of thing. I’m tired of hearing “we’re colorblind” and “in the age of Obama” and “typical white person” and the word “post-racial”, so it’s not just talking about race. If you use your national platform to say you get jumpy when you see a Muslim on a plane or think the Supreme Court was wrong in the Dred Scott decision or the Jews run the media, you’re not adding to the discussion or conversation. And I’m okay with the organizations paying the people behind the mike to pull the plug.

    Imagine if Williams had said — Look, I get the fears that a lot of people have. 9/11 is a fresh wound, and people want to blame Muslims. It’s wrong to feel this way, but I understand it and feel it too. But I got over it. No, we don’t have to say only “some” Muslims every time to audiences who get it. But all of your audience, Bill, doesn’t get that and are the same people who are ready to burn down mosque construction projects and bringing in fake giant missiles to point at building the New York City and using your words and making them justification for hate.

    It’s a different, subtle tack. But it’s called advancing the discussion. Do we really need another beer summit where people can openly talk about how scared they are of Muslims? Does that really help anything?

  • Bob Collins

    I think that’s exactly what he would’ve said if he’d been allowed to finish sentences to make his point. I think what he was saying was in the aftermath of 9/11, there were times when he felt nervous on a plane b/c of the appearance some people.

    Heck, there are flashing signs everywhere and announcements saying look out for suspicious activity, practically leading us to this.

    I have to admit — and I imagine I’ll be fired now — I catch myself from time to time looking at someone and making a judgment that I find bigoted. And I ask myself why I’m doing that?

    I admire people who’ve never had a bigoted thought. I’ll continue to try to be more like them.

  • Bob Collins

    //I am voting with my money. Just cancelled my sustaining membership

    So you’re taking your disagreement with NPR out on MPR?

  • Bob Collins

    // if they were just waiting for a chance to fire him

    I just posted at the bottom of the post a message from NPR’s exec to stations. That possibility seems to come out in it. And the timing was clumsy for the stations.

  • JackU

    This is a little off the topic so feel free to remove it Bob.

    I have a question for all of the people “voting with their money”, will you still listen to Morning Edition or All Things Considered or Midday or Mid-morning or whatever MPR programs you listen to? Will you continue to read New Cut and Capitol View and the other content at

    If you answer yes, I would hope you would reconsider your decision.

  • Tom

    Williams is being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.. He made a benign comment without any disrespect to Muslims, be they terrorist or not.

    The firing does raise questions about an open dialogue concerning the class of civilizations that is occurring. This firing only serves to chill that diaglogue.

    If we do want to discuss this, I would like to hear from some moderate Muslims concerning whether they believe the terrorist Muslims end (goal) is in sync with their religious beliefs or is the antithesis of the Muslim faith. If they accept the goal but condemn the method, we should have that discussion. If they reject that end and reject the means the terrorist muslim minority methods, then we have common ground to discuss why they haven’t been more vocal critics.

  • Tony

    @JackU. If I could earmark my membership to only to Bob Collins or Tom Scheck’s salary, I would

  • Rich

    Many of the comments above show the common sense of Minnesotans–we’re telling you, MIN PR, that if you have no leverage on National PR on issues ilke these, then you’d better get some. Or why should we support you? And you’d better let them know that a position like this one is untenable:

    “In appearing on TV or other media . . . NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist. They should not participate in shows . . . that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis.”

    It’s no better than saying, “toe the party line. If you have reservations, you can’t express them.” You have no rights as a private citizen to speak in public, in other words. NPR owns your mouth and your opinions.

  • MNReader

    Hey Bob — any comparisons to be made to Garrison Keillor’s political endorsments (referencing a past topic on this blog)? I.E. how the statements of one might reflect on a whole organization and create collateral damage, and thus more restraint is needed?

    Juan Williams’ attempt to reach out, be a bridge, keep the dialogue open, maintain an NPR presence at Fox, etc., etc., were all admirable aspirations, but he was just being used for the big “NPR employee” banner that Fox could throw on the screen to attack and promote their own storyline and agenda. Reaching out works only if the other side is going to be accepting, instead of mocking and throwing trash at the gesture. NPR probably just wanted to end the humiliation at the hands of Fox, once and for all. If Juan hadn’t been on Fox, those comments wouldn’t get him fired.

  • Bonnie

    I did not have time to read comments so I may be repeating, but to me he got exactly what he wanted. He is no dummy! This is exactly how he wanted it to play out, so now he can go full borer on Fox and become one of their darlings in a larger capacity. It was a foxy career strategy, it worked like a charm. NPR bit.

  • Heather

    What Justin said, PLUS — If you are hiding behind the “PC” accusation, please stop. The term seems to come out when someone attempts to make a nuanced remark, and it amounts to name-calling. If you can’t make critical distinctions, that’s too bad, but don’t speak dirisively to people who are attempting to do so.

    Tony and Pat, if you’re still reading, the decision under discussion was made by National Public Radio, not Minnesota Public Radio. If you actually had memberships in the first place, I hope you’ll reconsider your retraction of support.

  • free


  • Bob Collins

    I think that’s very interesting. I think the two situations you describe show two different approaches to the question that two different organizations have.

  • Matt

    @Rich: Doesn’t your employer do the same thing? If I were on national television espousing views that might reflect negatively on my employer’s credibility, I would be canned too. (Whether Williams met that criteria is up for debate, I guess.)

    If you’re using your public figure status — he wasn’t on Fox News just as a nice guy they found, he was on as an NPR employee — they have every right as an organization to say, thanks, we no longer need your services. Your employment is at-will and not guaranteed by the First Amendment.

  • Phillip

    Based on NPR’s statement regarding their standards and expectations, this seems like a consequence of poor judgement from violating NPR’s standards.

    Listening to the whole clip I can imagine it starting a conversation regarding identities and how people portray themselves, or confronting our racist/homophobic/sexist beliefs in order to work past them and make important distinctions. Every clip I’ve seen of the O’Reilly Factor has him speaking over and clipping sentences to the point of the guest not being able to say anything which begs the judgement question. If you object and want to start these conversations, why go on O’Reilly’s show?

    Also, Bob’s right about the membership cancellations – NPR and MPR are different entities.

  • Kirk

    First, I applaud the transparency with which NPR (and subsequently MPR) is approaching this. I also applaud their intention to make clear that Juan’s remark is contrary to their policies/point of veiw.

    I do wonder whether there might have been a means by which to clearly distance Npr from his remarks, without terminating him. Perhaps this is a “last-straw” responce, but none the less I wish it had been handled in a less reactive way.

  • Bob Collins

    /Your employment is at-will and not guaranteed by the First Amendment.

    Also worth pointing out that while the 1st Amendment might apply to newspapers and the written word, it does not apply to broadcasters. Content is regulated. So while I’m reading the usual political suspects crying “First Amendment,” I notice that many of them are also the ones who embraced efforts to control speech on TV and radio.

    As I said earlier, this is one of those issues that what Williams said is almost irrelevant to the need of the nation to have the same conversation on a daily basis and everything else gets lost in the cacophony of self interest.

  • c’mon
  • Justin

    @ c’mon – Just an aside here…..One of the first things I was taught in college was to be very, very wary of Wikipedia as a source. Even with their “citations”, they are often the source of wildly inaccurate assertions. If you are going to quote them to prove a point, be more specific than the generic listing for MPR vs. NPR. What exactly are you looking at that shows they aren’t separate?

  • Bunnie Watson

    Any good manager of employees discusses performance problems as they occur, and documents them in their files. After hearing the NPR ombudsman speak about previous troubling situations involving Mr. Williams, he should have known that he was pushing the wrong buttons. For all we know, he may have been told “One more time and you’re out.” There is history here, and he can’t have things both ways. He made his choice, and may he be successful in his new endeavors.

    As far as what he said, let’s do a little creative substitution, as Matt did in his comment above. What would Juan have thought if Bill O had responded with “Yeah, I feel the same way when I am on the bus (train, subway, street) and it is full of black men in gang colors (or Hasidim with payot and tzitzis, or Buddhists in saffron robes, or megachurch preachers wearing Rolexes). It’s scary out there with all those folks who aren’t me. Let’s encourage our viewers to fear and hate them, and maybe they’ll go away, my Negro brother.” Hmmm. How about skinheads sporting swastikas. Oops, that’s the Tea Party.

  • Johan Halverson

    There’s no way Juan deserved to be fired for stating his very personal view. More than anything else, I think Juan’s firing reflects a hatred for anything related to Fox News. The liberal media, which NPR has now squarely identified itself with, passionately dislikes fact-based and logical criticisms with their world view. Juan Williams was heroic for appearing regularly on Fox News – a lone voice standing up for mostly opposing viewpoints. He should be revered not fired. NPR just lost any hope of getting a check from me for their fund raising campaigns. Most people I know share this viewpoint. Bad move NPR!

  • Bob Collins

    //NPR just lost any hope of getting a check from me for their fund raising campaigns

    Clarification: NPR doesn’t do fundraising campaigns with listeners.

  • David Dodt

    What ever happened to the second amendment. This man is listened to because of his views. You can disagree with him, as I sometimes do. But he has an opinion and because of his thoughtfulness he makes you think. That is a very good thing. So this NPR decision is totally wrong.

  • Heather

    Wondering how many of the threats of recinded or uninitiated memberships are from people who are actually members or intended to become members before this story broke.

    I’ll keep my sustaining membership, thank you very much!

    Some of the commenters I haven’t seen here before are pretty interesting. I hope you’ll be back tomorrow!

  • Dave Detlie

    The last time I ran into guys with gang colors, it was 3 blacks and a white. I was crossing a parking lot to go to my favorite SF bookstore. When one of them pointed and waved me back the way I had just come, I turned around and got outa there. Fear of people in gang colors is quite literally a healthy attitude.

    If this discussion started because of a concern that all muslims were being branded terrorists, how is it fair to brand all tea party activists as racists, xenophobes, wingnuts, nazis, skinheads with swastikas, etc. The ‘dialogue’ isn’t only one sided on fox news, apparently.

  • Justin

    @ Dave Detlie: While no one can say that having some apprehension at people in gang colors (regardless of ethnicity) is a bad thing, it is also not fair to apply a blanket characterization to an entire group based on the activities of a few radicals. I don’t think that anyone that is rational on this board would argue that there aren’t people on the left who are just as maniacal as those on the right who are usually criticized in situations like this. That being said, in recent memory, my own personal experience has been that it is far more difficult to have a rational conversation with someone who is a Tea Party activist than it is someone who doesn’t fall so far to one end of the spectrum (left or right, it doesn’t make any difference). The ultra-polarization of our discourse is bad any way you look at it.

    Back on topic, I don’t think that NPR’s reaction was well thought out, but at the same time, they are an employer, who has the right to terminate an employee, unless there is a specific document stating otherwise.

    If nothing else, this situation has served to bring some conversation to the issue. A lot of how I feel about this situation long-term is going to depend on how the parties involved behave in the future – i.e., if Williams decides to go on Fox News and become like Bill O’Reilly (which I hope doesn’t happen), I would look less favorably on that than if he just admits that he made a mistake and sticks to his beliefs without moving to the end of the spectrum.

  • lk

    I support NPR’s decision. I think a “no tolerance” policy when it comes to racism in its reporters is wholly acceptable. I’m frankly astounded that so many people are critical of this decision because “he’s just saying what we all think.” Thank god there’s at least one media outlet that won’t tolerate anti-muslim bias passed off as “news analysis.”

  • JackU

    @David Dodt: Second Amendment?

    A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    I assume you mean First Amendment. Your right to free speech does not guarantee you the right to work for an employer. For example TV personality Mike Rowe is a paid spokesman for Ford Motor company. If he were to be interviewed and mention that personally he thinks Toyota’s trucks are better than Ford’s you would expect that Ford would fire him. He has every right to say what he wants and in this situation Ford has every right to fire him as their spokesman.

    In this case Williams violated the policy of one of his employers. They are within their rights to terminate his contract.

  • mcprogers

    I will not support MPR or NPR

  • MB

    NPR should have released Juan Williams before this. His name was associated with NPR, he gained notoriety, book contracts, speaking engagements based on his work on NPR. Why was Fox offended when NPR asked to not use their name when he appeared on the network?

    Curios how many commentators today feel that he is entitled to lifetime employment at NPR no matter what.

    Good point by another commenter, why do we need to have another “conversation” about race relations by supposed sophisticated media personalities? We’ve been having these many times over. If Williams feels uncomfortable when Muslims board an airplane, why do we need to wait for him to catch up to common sense. The 9/11 hijackers were dressed in khakis and polo shirts.

  • Bob Collins

    //I’ll keep my sustaining membership, thank you very much! Some of the commenters I haven’t seen here before are pretty interesting. I hope you’ll be back tomorrow!

    People who are members have more influence on public radio than people who aren’t. Going to the nuclear option without using your influence is like exercising your influence by giving it up.

  • Ron Thery

    I have been listening to MPR for at least 30 years and have stayed as a listener because it has been a refreshing change from ALL the other “Talk Radio” venues – both left and right. I have to admit that I have never watched more than a few minutes of Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, or other “conservative” talk shows. About the most conservative I normally get is the PBS news shows. I do like to listen to KTLK and Air America on occasion just to remind myself of the alternatives to MPR.

    While I do acknowledge the difference between MPR and NPR exists, I also know that it is the member stations that provide feedback to NPR. MPR is a major contributor in both funding and programming to NPR as has been stated to us listeners many times in the past. MPR should listen to its members and provide that feedback in distilled form to NPR to influence NPR’s decisions.

    In reviewing the comments on both the NPR and MPR sites I find that most people support Juan Williams right to state his feelings. After watching the entire exchange I find no real reason to object to his statements in context. I believe that Juan Williams was advocating for a moderate and understanding approach to Muslims. Because of that, I believe that NPR was wrong to summarily fire Juan Williams.

    I live in an area with a large Muslim and foreign born population. I interact with them on a daily basis. I talk to a variety of Muslims every day and have conversed with them about the 9/11 attacks, the USA’s policies in the ME, the wars in Iran and Iraq, and the attitudes of Muslims here in Minnesota. I believe that most of them are like everyone else here – they are trying to do the best for themselves and their families. There are, however, a lot of young men who do take a belligerent stance that is antithetical to the USA. This is backed up by the statistics compiled by the FBI (and reported on MPR) which state that Minnesota is something of a “hotbed” for young men going to fight for “terrorist” organizations. That factual data would lead me to have the same concerns that Juan Williams voiced about seeing a large group of men expounding the Muslim faith getting on the airplane that I was also flying on. A concern based on facts is not predjudice, it is simply caution.

    NPR does have the right to make hiring and firing decisions that they feel are best for the company. To make them so quickly,publicly and for the reasons that have been reiterated on the NPR website without giving Juan Williams the chance to respond in private and come to some agreement about what should be publicly stated is a major blunder on the part of NPR. Large corportations do this all the time and the procedures for handling this are well known. NPR management is to be faulted for not having the correct people in place to do this well.

    I don’t advocate people withholding monetary support for MPR because of this. I just believe that MPR should learn from this and advocate with NPR to reconsider this decision and be more inclusive in the future.

  • Montana

    Good for NPR, Juan Williams slant belongs to “Fake News” with the rest of the failed political candidstes Palin, Huckabee, or should I say the 2012 GOP Presidential contenders. They are not racist they are just the good old boys. They are the bunch that keep saying that they are scared of BLACKS, scared of ASIANS, sacred of LATINOS, scared of WOMEN, scared of the GAYS and now they are scared of Muslims. So long Johnny,don’t let the door hit you. I love that you went crying to “Fake News” and played the victim card, I guess its another “it is a high-tech lynching”.

  • Bob Collins

    //I just believe that MPR should learn from this and advocate with NPR to reconsider this decision and be more inclusive in the future.

    I have no inside knowledge — I’m not in the membership department — from what I understand around the country, however, public radio stations are making their opinions on how NPR handled this VERY clear.

  • Justin

    Interesting update to the story, Williams gets a big payday from Fox News. I am disappointed for a few reasons – first, I think that a knee-jerk reaction is never the appropriate one. I don’t necessarily disagree with NPR’s dismissal of an employee that violated a policy, but the fact that they did so in what appears to be such a rash manner is troubling. Second, I am disappointed that Williams would take this kind of payday in this situation. I realize that everyone has a job, and some people get paid to talk (like Williams), but this whole situation reeks. Maybe it’s just timing, but the whole thing stinks to me.

  • Annie Smalltown

    Mr. Williams has some fantastic insight. Hoping to find some off-the-cuff, errant statements to explain NPR’s awful action, I came across Rodney Ho’s story (board member of the Atlanta Press Club) :

    “First interview with NPR CEO Vivian Schiller on Juan Williams firing”

    I urge you to check out the article. This is not the first time Williams has said something that would offend another race/religion. He was no longer an employee, but a contractor, in part because of his statements outside of NPR.

    His comments may have been understandable 9 years ago, but if I were a Muslim, I’d be frustrated by his inability to differentiate among people of the same religion/race.

    Also, those who call for a cut to federal funding for public broadcasting would do themselves well to “follow the numbers” on the NPR, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and local broadcasting stations. You might be surprised to find that NPR is not supported by government funding.

    I wished NPR was the crazed liberals the right wing keeps describing.

  • James

    How silly. Everyone knows that what Williams said is true. The liberals are now eating their own. This is hillarious. I hate no-one, and don’t feel ill towards anyone of any nationality or race, but to say that I have no fear when I observe muslims getting onto my flight, when it was in fact muslims extremest who hit the twin towers, would be dishonest. I feel the same when I see an armed man not wearing a badge. It makes me nervous. Not that I thinik that he is a killer and I don’t believe the public should be disarmed, but it does make me nervous. Obviously NPR thinks it is politically incorrect and we should be prohibited from expressing our feelings. How do you tell the difference between the good Muslims and the Jihadist. Shall we pretend there are no such people. I thought we were a country of free speech. Apprarently NPR feels differenty. Although I have listened to NPR for years, I think, with this act of idiocy and hypocracy, where a man loses his job for being honest, (which is what we want from reporters), NPR has shown its political agenda clearly. I for one shall now turn NPR off forever, or a least until the right to think is restored to programing. Obviously wisdom has vacated NPR’s premises.

  • James

    I meant “MPR”

  • bsimon

    Ron Thery – nice post.

    I think the people that are saying “MPR gets no more money from me” are making the same mistake that NPR made in summarily severing Williams’ contract. Which is to say, they’re overreacting in the heat of the moment. In my opinion.

    While I think NPR handled this situation poorly, I do agree with the posters that think Williams’ & Liasson’s roles on Fox News Sunday has been detrimental to NPR. Having two NPR analysts on the set to ‘balance’ Hume & Kristol is casting NPR as a ‘liberal’ news outlet, which it is not. I’d like to hear the ombudsperson’s opionon on that subject.

  • andy

    Whoa, a lotta comments here. I have to admit to being in the “I don’t know” column as far as NPR’s decision to fire Juan Williams. I do know one thing, I am happily a sustaining member of MPR (despite not living in MN anymore) and will continue to do so.

    By the way, thanks Bob for nipping the right vs. left nonsense in the bud. This is one of the last decent places on the internet where smart and thoughtful comments are made, let’s keep it that way.

  • Mike

    I sat in a classroom and listened to Stokely Carmichael – Kwame Ture – years ago; Juan Williams wasn’t far wrong in his First Lady Michelle Obama – Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) comment. First Lady Michelle Obama appears less alienated these days. / / / I sometimes feel threatened when I see individuals making cultural and, or, religious fashion statements. / / / Repeatedly appearing with Bill O’Reilly? Maybe someone at National Public Radio (NPR) should have earlier given Juan Williams a deadline to decide between NPR and Bill O’Reilly’s show. NPR tries to present balanced news; O’Reilly tends to put news into a shock-jock, spin-cycle, downward spiral.

  • Mandi

    I do think NPR made a good choice because that is classified as racist. Yes people may be acquired to speak what they please “freedom of speech” but you should keep that to yourself rather then saying that on Fox. People most likely do look up to this Mr. William, but he should know better honestly.

  • Bob Collins

    I just want to remind everyone to please go listen to the entire Williams interview. I understand how the :46 seconds that was circulated this morning leads people to one conclusion. But, as people here indicated, those who’ve watched the entire thing, seem to have a different perspective.

    I raised these assessments of Williams’ points earlier:

    >> Blaming Muslims for 9/11 is like blaming Christians for Oklahoma City or the Westboro Baptist Church.

    >> Germany has not properly helped Muslims assimilate into German society.

    >> Heightened rhetoric like O’Reilly’s leads to violence against Muslims and people shouldn’t lose their rights because of O’Reilly’s comments about Muslims.

    I’d be interested in how these points square with the earlier assertion in the interview.

  • Cheryl

    I am glad that a radio station actually has an ethics standard. Yes, I think Williams should have been fired.

    I’m increasing my membership support for MPR.

  • John O.

    That didn’t take too long now, did it? $2M over three years–not a bad gig if you can get it.

    The question is whether he retains the same persona, or if he transforms himself into something else with his new employer. Time will be the judge, but one has to wonder what is going through Mara Liasson’s mind regarding this.

  • Linda

    Williams has been too chummy with Fox and now he may have a full time gig with them. Public radio should only provide the facts and not the opinions and influence of Fox.

  • Mike

    First Lady Michelle Obama? Stokely Carmichael? Kwame Ture? Two individuals entering the American mainstream at different times in history. Any comparsion likening them is troublesome.

  • Eric

    I think the firing and the emotion of what he said are two different issues. NPR has a right to slant their news or pick the personalities any way they want. If a personality came on and said they liked milk more than water, the higher ups who are lactose intolerant could fire that personality. It is up to them. As people are saying – we can vote with our checkbook like anything else.

    The separate issue being discussed is the context of his comments themselves. It is funny how we are not allowed to be honest, not allowed to change our opinion in a conversation, and not allowed to rethink our position. It is human nature to have a visceral reaction to something that is different. I don’t have a problem saying I get nervous seeing a group of Muslims coming on a plane. I get nervous downtown after a play and have to walk by a large group of young kids dressed in baggy pants and backwards hats (regardless of race). It is our natural reaction to prepare our body for fight or flight. It is what makes us different from other animals – that fear would make other animals run – we then use our brain to realize our fear is unfounded and go on our way.

    Along with that – after 9/11 – we were told to be more aware of our surroundings. If anyone gets on a plane in baggy clothes in a group – would you not take a second look? The 9/11 hijackers weren’t in Muslim garb, so I then engage my brain, look around, see nothing unusual is happening, and go back to my normal routine.

    Is it wrong for me to feel this way? Maybe. But why is it wrong for me to admit it, discuss it, and find new knowledge and tolerance or fear as warranted.

  • John O.

    “Despite many conversations and warnings over the years, Juan has continued to violate this principal.”

    You would think the head of NPR would be able to distinguish between and understand the proper usage of the words “principal” and “principle?”

  • Dr F. Mark Carter

    Put Juan Williams back on the air and boot Vivian Schiller!

    This is just daft and going to affect MPR’s bottom line.

    If someone can’t be honest about how they feel, then where on Earth are we heading.

    He was not even “politically incorrect”. If he was then we as a nation have gone completely balmy.

    Join me and take every opportunity you can to be “Politically Incorrect'”.


  • Alison

    I haven’t been comfortable with the fact that NPR has been featuring someone with a strong connection to Fox News. I would say the same about NPR featuring a left wing commentator. I think NPR should have terminated their relationship with Mr. Williams prior to this. Doing it at a time of controversy only clouds the issue and calls into question the judgment of the NPR leadership.

  • I never contribute to MPR/NPR again.

    Where is the first ammendment?

    Politcal correctness trumps free speech!

  • Rich

    Between Bill Klings salary and the lack of multiple view points. Just another good reason to not renew my membership. Do these folks think every one of their listeners wears a beret and whale corduroys?

  • Aliso

    For those invoking the first amendment, you may recall that while you are guaranteed freedom of speech, you are not guaranteed employment by a media organization. Agree or disagree with NPR’s leadership, but they did not infringe upon Mr. Williams’ first amendment rights.

  • Dave Detlie

    Thanks, Bob for reminding people to watch the entire video. It puts Juan Williams in a whole lot more thoughtful and reasonable light.

    Unless several news and internet sites are wrong, Williams worked for Fox for 2 years before NPR, so they should have known exactly what they were hiring.

    Anyone who’s ever been an employee should be able to appreciate what a pair of gutless cowards Weiss and Schiller are. One fires him by phone and refuses to his request to meet face to face. The other launches an on air, smirking attack on him, and doesn’t even have the courage to even call, but simply mumbles an insincere apology to the wind. they too, should be ex NPR employees.

  • Drew

    What if he said he is afraid when African Americans get on the bus he is on because African Americans commit a lot of violent crimes?

    Orthodox Jews because the Israelis are?

    Gays because of all those child raping priests?

    Why is suggesting guilt by association is kind of ok (‘understandable’) when it comes to Muslims, but less so with other groups?

    NPR has a right to establish standards of public integrity in its analysts. People can feel the way they feel, no one can stop them from talking about it, but that doesn’t oblige an organization from continuing to pay someone who violates their specified standards of integrity, which reasonably include not airing one’s prejudices publicly as it undermines one’s ability to be taken seriously as a professional in the role defined by NPR (as an analyst). Only the government can censor – all those who are claiming censorship should consider that Mr. Williams remains a public figure, paid to present his opinions to millions of people every week. To call this censorship demeans the meaning of the word, and real censorship which occurs daily all over the world.

    And, it should be clearly said, we are currently in an environment in which Muslim baiting and bashing is acceptable by politicians and the media. NPR is taking a political risk by sticking to their editorial standards – good for them.

  • Carol Gordon

    Juan Williams reactionary reporting is nothing new and it is no coincidence that he is employed by FOX. I’m delighted that NPR fired him; his opinion-driven reporting style does not measure up to that of real reporters. I remember a few years ago Williams was part of a panel that interviewed people living with AIDS; one of whom was Hydea Broadbent, who as a young child touched the hearts of many through her emotional reaction to having AIDS. Stupidly and typically, Williams chastised her for having AIDS. Clearly he failed to research her case. She was born to a mother with AIDS, and Williams spewed his narrow vision of blame. Good riddance to bad rubbage!

  • Pat

    You were WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! to fire Juan Williams. You will NEVER get another cent of my money; and I hope you lose Federal funding NOW! How could you? Juan was expressing an opinion that the majority of Americans would agree with. We are fearful and turn away from that which has hurt us in the past and could hurt us in the future.

  • Bob Collins

    I no longer am going to allow any posts that mistake MPR for NPR. If people want to post why they’re holding the actions of NPR against MPR, that’s fine. But I’ve had to explain numerous times the structural difference between the two and if people ignore that, their posts fuel an ignorance and that’s not what News Cut is about.

  • Bob Collins

    The irony of the situation, Drew, is Juan Williams said basically what you just said.

    It’s also worth pointing out that NPR says the firing didn’t involve his comments re: Muslims, per se, but that he gave his opinions at all.

    And you’re right, that’s is the editorial standard.

    But a war in Vietnam ended because a journalist gave his opinion and Joe McCarthy’s investigation ended because another journalist gave his opinion.

    It may be more than coincidence that the two journalists are two of the most revered journalists for ethics in the history of the craft.

  • Dave Detlie

    I don’t think Williams firing was racist, illegal or censorship. But if the numerous posters who applaud NPR’s upholding of journalistic standards and integrity in the firing of Williams, how do you justify the continued employment of Nina Totenberg? Surely wishing death on a general in the US military, or wishing AIDS on a US senator, both quite publicly, must violate some kind of standards?

    I, by the way don’t want her fired, I enjoy her reporting, and accept that those were just dumb remarks.

  • Rob Rock

    I am a long time minnesota public radio, national public radio. This firing is completely against the ethics that NPR espouses on the station. Jaun has always been a stable voice of reason and an asset to NPR… quite frankly given that fox news sees NPR as the mouth peice of the ultra liberal left, (altho I doubt they’ve ever listened) I was very surprised they gave such a reasonable man a chance in the first place. You need to reconsider your hasty decision and apologize and give him his job back. It was a statement of honest opinion reguarding something that scares everyone in this 911 world…. This event is like a twilight zone episode and I cant believe you made it into an issue.

  • Eric

    Quote Drew: “What if he said he is afraid when African Americans get on the bus he is on because African Americans commit a lot of violent crimes?

    Orthodox Jews because the Israelis are?

    Gays because of all those child raping priests?

    Why is suggesting guilt by association is kind of ok (‘understandable’) when it comes to Muslims, but less so with other groups?”

    It’s not “OK” logically, but I’d have that reaction to any of the above mentioned group (within certain age groups, etc). If you read my post, I do get nervous seeing a black teenager downtown on a Saturday night in the baggy pants and backwards hat. There are just certain reactions you have either because of personal experience or someone close to you. We ALL as Americans felt attacked on 9/11, so most of us will have the INITIAL AUTOMATIC response to be a bit nervous when we see a young, male Muslim in an airport. As MLK said – content of character – is what’s important once you are past that instinctual response. We have to have the conversation – how much assimilation is appropriate – we wouldn’t let someone from a Muslim country chop off another’s hand for stealing – but we also need to understand their way of life some too. It’s about having the conversation, being honest about your feelings even if wrong or negative, and learning from everyone.

  • Drew Salisbury

    To begin, I have to say I am not the Drew that posted above, although I appreciate his post because unlike too many other comments I have read in this discussion today, it is well thought out, even though I do not know whether I would say exact same words in the exact same way.

    I’m a liberal person. I try to say and think that I don’t just fall on one side of the coin, but 90% of the time, even when I do so begrudgingly and with hesitation, I throw my hat in with the “progressive” side.

    Which I think is both neither here nor there and at the same time completely relevant to this conversation, as evidenced by the comments on this blog post.

    Let me continue by saying I couldn’t really care less about Juan Williams. I don’t know much of his past. I’ve seen him before on The O’Reilly Factor and was aware of his former duties on Talk of the Nation, but nothing has ever made me think twice about him.

    What it comes down to for me, and what (if I dare try to suppose what Bob is trying to say) I think Bob is trying to get at, is that here’s a situation where someone was being honest in saying that, against his better judgment, and his morals, and his actual thoughts about the real world, there is a part of him that is knee jerk prejudiced even though it makes him uncomfortable.

    And I would ask who doesn’t hold these types of prejudices?

    We (and by “we” I don’t mean only middle income white folks, EVERYONE IS AFFECTED BY THIS) are ingrained from the time we are young by the media and etc. that minorities (be them the only other person on the subway at 2AM, someone who happens to be black; or the Middle-Eastern person on the airplane, etc etc) are the people who commit crimes. We know that white people (say Bernie Madoff, or any of the other thousands of fucks [pardon my French] who are stealing billions from us as we speak) are guilty of horrendous crimes as well, but that’s not who causes worry in a dark alley on a late night. Because Law and Order, and Miami Vice and the nightly news, and all that other bulls**t, has subconsciously told us we don’t need to be afraid of white people, but we do people of color.

    SO…. where am I going with all this parenthetical posturing?

    Juan Williams chose a lousy place to be honest. Bill O’Reilly is a smart person who is also despicable in the manner in which he insights fears in his audience while maintaining that “he is only presenting the facts, and they should make up their own mind.” And now Fox News will use this to their best advantage to point the figure at the “liberal media” (and I use the quotes lightly, because a lot of the media is liberal, but not in the simplistic sense Fox News tries to paint it as) and show their hypocrisy and foolishness (and in this instance, he’s unfortunately, a little right).

    Juan Williams didn’t express his ideas as well as he could and should have. Part of this is editing on Fox News, and the general way in which O’Reilly conducts his interviews. It’s not all Juan’s fault, but he should also have known better.

    And finally, NPR has the right to fire whoever they want. It doesn’t infringe on 1st Amendment rights, and anyone saying so doesn’t have a basic knowledge of the constitution. NPR is not in the wrong there. What is unfortunate, is the decision to fire Juan was definitely hasty, even if it had been coming for a while, and in all probabilities, not thought out, and dumb. They’ve given ammunition to “news organizations” like Fox, and undermined NPR’s own tenacity, when, as many have pointed out, they allow plenty others to stay on their payroll, even those not in an editorial field, who report stories that are obviously not “objective.” Though I have to admit, objectivity is something that, as Murrow so easily showed, is impossible in the news (or any) realm, and most likely shouldn’t even try to be pursued.

  • Drew Salisbury

    Sorry, ***point the FINGER at the liberal media*** wish your comment section had an edit function, Bob, for these late night, not proofed rants by the likes of me.

  • Drew Salisbury

    “Tenacity” was also probably not the word I was looking for. But whatever, I’m not a newsman.

  • Dan


    Tough one folks. However, I currently tend to land on the side of NPR. Why? Because Juan is a well educated, respected voice. It also happens to be that he is black. Why is that relevant?? Because as a white male of approximately the same age… IF I had the same clout within the media community and I said that when I saw a black man coming toward me on the sidewalk, I was afraid, and went to the other side of the street… what do you think would happen to me??? And how do we believe that misguided and erroneous statement would be handled by MY superiors? Think deeply folks… this isn’t about Republicans vs Democrats – though that is how it’s being pitched up… it’s about the justifiable expectations for a respected professional… and Juan came up short. Sorry… I would have fired him too.

  • Drew Salisbury

    But Dan, that’s not all he said. It’s not irresponsible, even for a respected professional with a large audience, to admit to feelings he or she has that he or she thinks knowingly acknowledges are largely unfounded. Juan went on in that interview to talk about how the prejudices against the Muslim community are misguided. The line is, do we ask those with a pulpit to dumb down and simplify what they want (and in some cases) need to say so that nobody in their audience can misconstrue it? Or do we want them to acknowledge the serious complexities of the serious situations we as a society are facing, knowing that some will just listen to the soundbite and hear what they want to?

  • Dan

    You are Correct Drew…

    In that these honest opinions must, OK, MUST be aired, and discussed. Nonetheless, given O’Reilly’s EXTREME point of view and EXTREME control over his program (ie one cannot actually express an honest opinion without having it twisted into Bill’s corner of the ring)… it still calls into significant question Juan’s judgement. Maybe you don’t employ people Drew… I do. They must reflect corporate values… or they must find the door. period. Juan’s judgement and comments do not reflect NPRs corporate values. I wish Juan well in his future employment… he does not however have a RIGHT to maintain his employment with NPR (contractor or otherwise)… and if you want a more Republican viewpoint… well – good luck 😉

  • Iska Waran

    I seem to recall Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder calling us a nation of cowards for failing to have an open conversation about race. I know muslims aren’t a “race”, but Juan Williams was reallying just having the honest conversation that Holder was calling for. Williams’ firing shows why that honest conversation doesn’t happen. I guess he wasn’t supposed to be THAT honest.

    Shame on NPR for censoring Williams. And shame on the commenters here who are bending over backwards to come up with a rationalization for NPR’s thought-police actions.

  • Iska Waran


    I’ve already e-mailed my congressperson and both of my senators asking that NPR no longer get any government funding. And I’m a long-time listener and past donor to public radio.

  • Dan

    Nonsense Iska,

    NPR is not acting in a thought -police mode (such Draconian modes can only be enacted by a “state” entity in any case). There is a significant difference between being open-minded and being stupid (OK – ingnorant or uneducated). Being stupid is a reflection of what should generally be considered common knowledge, whereas being open minded should reflect an ability to successfully grapple with new ideas. The Muslim religion, and it’s people are not exactly a “new” idea… anymore than Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, etc are “new” ideas. Try to explain to the Muslims (or the Jews) why we Christians tried to exterminate them in the “Crusades” and see where you get… if over 2,000 years of history hasn’t yet made a succesful impact on the futility of our feuds… what will??

    I stand on my statement… Juan should have known better. Failing that – he got his butt fired. Welcome to the real world of corporate America Juan…

  • Drew Salisbury

    I’m with you Dan, in that I think I’m not faulting NPR for firing Juan in the sense that “they had no right to.” But I do feel as though it’s not so simple to say it was in their best interest. As I said before, NPR allows plenty of their employees (some under the title of analyst or reporter, not opinion or editorial) to put slants on their articles (and while it’s too late and I’m too lazy to cite them now, if you’d like I’ll link them because I saw at least two today in regards to this actual story) without reprimand (though, not near to the degree or with the agenda that Fox News or MSNBC does). Juan has no right to maintain his employment, and NPR has every right to fire him. But if you look at the firestorm that has come up in the last 24 hours, I would argue NPR has stepped right into the ring they are saying they were trying to avoid. They fired him, they say, because he’s not upholding their journalistic standards and codes, and in fact have now come under fire for not upholding fair standards and codes. The problem is, is the Right is accusing NPR of things they didn’t quite do, and NPR is defending themselves with an argument that isn’t completely what is the case. Which is why I don’t know exactly how I feel about it all. I trust NPR more than probably any other news corporation in the US, but as you said, they are a corporation, and they have to protect themselves. In this case, I think they did more damage trying to protect themselves by firing Juan than if they had engaged what he was saying, even if he did it on a lousy, bulls**t network and they had (perhaps rightfully so) been looking for a reason to give him the axe for awhile.

  • Iska Waran

    Dan & Drew, You guys should go to bed. Your comments are turbid.

    Watch the video again. Williams was fired for the mere offense of candor. NPR’s response will only help ensure that candor not be committed again.

  • Drew Salisbury


    I had to look up “turbid.” That must have been one that got my by me in my English Major days (and there are plenty that did). You’re right in that I need to go to sleep, but I honestly think both you and Dan are simplifying this argument. I think what I’ve said shows I’m all for candor if it’s expressed responsibly. Juan’s words were expressed responsibly, but his venue ensured they wouldn’t be. NPR had every right to do what they did, but the manner in which they did was pretty irresponsible. And that’s all the repeating of myself I’m going to do. I gotta get up in 6 hours.

  • Dan

    Right on Drew…

    I DO hear what you are saying (and have been saying all day/evening I might add 😉

    I will provide (in these highly charged political times) however, a counterpoint… what would be the potential fallout from NPR NOT taking a strong stance against Juan’s ill-advised interview comment? Should we pretend that the very same forces which have marshaled themselves against Juan’s firing would not have been equally “excited” to take his comments out of context and “present” them to the world as the enlightened observations of a former “liberal”?

    I don’t know either… was NPR’s interest best served by firing Juan, or engaging Juan’s commentary? I am highly suspect of the O’Reilly crowd and their backers… and lack the trust that they would “play fair”… While potentially providing a short-term boost to Fox, I suspect that the more protracted discussion would have benefited them even more (since we are getting ever closer to election day). And I am further guessing that the “powers that be” at NPR landed on that side of the argument as well.

    I applaud your “tenacity” Drew! While I think many comments lacking in substance… your’s are not- they are well thought out and contain significant insight… Kudos to you!

    HaHa – you made me laugh Iska! Turbid… indeed! Though I refuse to be dismissed so easily 😉 Tired yes… turbid? no.

    None of the present conversation can be taken out of political context… and Juan knew that – or if it didn’t – SHOULD have. We are… what ~2weeks away from mid-term elections? Absolutely nothing said about Muslims, Mexicans (Mexican-Americans), Imigrants… blah, blah, blah, can be spoken at the level Juan was speaking without a political twist… Juan knew that (or should be fired anyway)… he played into the hands of a right-wing-whacko-nutjob organization… and STILL should be fired. I absolutely agree that we should not have to live in this environment – we should live in an environment that allows an open, honest, candid discussion of race, religion, etc… however our polarized political situation does not allow that to happen anymore.

    Perhaps the real thread of discussion should be… how do “we the people” take back the right to that discussion without having it highjacked by the politicos? And, please, don’t mention “Tea Party”… Sarah Palin makes me want to puke! 🙂

  • Chris

    I do not think NPR should have fired Ron Williams. I will not be supporting NPR anymore and I believe my tax dollars shouldn’t support them anymore either. I will be voicing my position against NPR even further with my local, state, and Federal government officials about this. NPR should fire not only Vivian Schiller but also Ellen Weiss for their position of ignorance in leadership for this company.

    Very concerned citizen for Freedom of Speech,


  • NPR fired Ron Williams?!?! How horrible. Ron Williams is a classic on NPR.

    Wait…who is Ron Williams? 😉

    (I figured this thread should end on a bit of levity)

  • GregS

    Almost everyone has missed Juan Williams’ point, NPR most of all.

    What he was saying is this, it is entirely natural to have prejudiced impulses, but one must develop the character to over-come such reactions.

    My gosh, this was a teachable moment and NPR which purports to have character, acted on their prejudiced impulses.

  • Lori

    I support the firing of Juan Williams for the reasons layed out in the NPR’s ombudsman’s website article (useful for information, BTW). I have valued Mr. Williams’ historical knowledge and scholarship about the Civil Rights Movement, but I will not tolerate the expression of overt editorial comment, especially the prejudiced, hateful, harmful comments such as those made on FOX TV, by the reports and news analysts who I depend upon for the news on NPR. I am a contributor to Minnesota Public Radio, have been for 24 years, plan to continue to support this important source of unbiased information. I completely support the actions that NPR has taken. The comments I have heard from the conservative congresspersons only further the view that they are noncredible and have not researched the situation, and and that they support the volatile, bigoted, fear-based conversation that goes on on the FOX shows.

  • Deb T.

    Juan Williams is now taking his opinions all the way to the bank and Bill O’Reilly again controls the message. Ugh.

    It is unfortunate that NPR was clumsy in its handling of this incident because NPR management lost the opportunity to lead a thoughtful discussion of the ethics of journalism.

  • Jim G

    The timing of the firing couldn’t have been worse.This is during fund raising week, and 12 days before a major national election which will determine the direction of this nation. What was the CEO’s thinking? Was she played by FOX News? They got what they want. Did npr get anything, but bad publicity?

  • Cory

    It is with mixed emotions that I will be calling in today to cancel my sustaining membership. Who doesn’t feel some nervousness while driving through a “bad” part of town, no matter what race or religion of people live there? My wife makes sure the doors are locked and I’m sure that you do to. Does it make that whole race bad? Absolutely not!! Do I sometimes feel nervous when I see people in full muslim clothes on my flight? I have to admit that the thought crosses my mind! The thoughts are rooted in safety and self preservation, not bigotry and racism. I get over it and know that all Muslims are not bad as is the case with any religion. There will always be some kind of nut or fanatic using a race or religion as an excuse to continue their ways.

    I will reconsider my membership once again as things come to light.

  • Jeff S

    I think NPR should have gotten rid of Williams long ago. He took advantage of his NPR credentials to lend legitimacy to his supposed conservative viewpoint. I think he has just been “playing” the system. His writings about the civil rights movement and history are totally inconsistent with the public personna he is cashing in on.

    I think Fox deserves him.

  • Sandi

    I am no fan of Juan Williams, FOX News or Bill O’Reilly. And I am far to the left of Williams and NPR ideologically. But his firing is an outrage and should be opposed by everyone who values their first amendment rights. This was a knee-jerk reaction and smacks of the poisonous political correctness that stifles honest debate. I work at a university that has a policy that bosses cannot tell a female employee that she is wearing a pretty sweater because it might be construed as sexual harassment. Give me a break!

  • Al


    I have been a member of MPR since shortly after moving here in the mid-nineties. I understand the difference between National Public Radio and Minnesota Public Radio. But how do I exercise any financial leverage to express my outrage except through MPR?

  • Sandi

    I also must add I see little distinction in practice between a commentator and a news analyst. I hear news analysis all the time that expresses the opinion of the person speaking. You cannot tell me that David Brooks is not expressing his opinion when he appears with E.J. Dionnne. This is really a lame explanation on the part of NPR management.

  • Steve Foster

    It’s about time NPR got rid of Juan Williams. He’s not a journalist. He belongs on Fox News, not on a source of real news. He belongs with a propaganda machine, not with NPR.

  • Chris

    I see both sides, but more so Juan Williams’. Mr. Williams only stated his feelings. I think most people may feel the same way about people, who are different from themselves, make a snap judgment and then reconsider coming to logical conclusions that there is nothing to worry about. However many know better than to say it in public because it is not politically correct. I am disappointed that NPR has reacted so strongly. I agree that this should have been a teachable moment and an opportunity to show that NPR does honor different view points. I really feel this issue has been handled poorly. Even if you did fire Juan Williams it would have been better to sort it out slowly instead of appearing knee jerk and reactionary.

  • Arnold

    I have been a supporter of MPR since I moved to Minnesota in the 80’s.

    No more.

    The Williams firing is a huge mistake, particularly, for an organization like MPR.

  • David

    NPR CEO Vivian Schiller told the network’s David Folkenflik earlier today, though, that “our reporters, our hosts and our news analysts SHOULD NOT BE INJECTING THEIR OWN VIEWS about a controversial issue as part of their story. They should be reporting the story.”

    Then she goes on to that now-former NPR news analyst Juan Williams should have kept his feelings about Muslims between himself and “HIS PSYCHIATRIST OR HIS PUBLICIST.”

    Is Ms. Schiller intending to resign from NPR for interjecting her public views about Jaun?

  • Bob Collins

    //No more.

    Arnold, would you mind providing some rationale while the sins of one organization should be held against another?

  • Bob Collins

    //Bob, I have been a member of MPR since shortly after moving here in the mid-nineties. I understand the difference between National Public Radio and Minnesota Public Radio. But how do I exercise any financial leverage to express my outrage except through MPR?

    Knowing you, Al, my suspicion is you’re really not trying to exercise *financial* leverage, you’re trying to exercise *leverage.* Am I correct?

    Members matter to MPR more than people who aren’t. That’s the reality. So when you call the audience services — or whatever it’s called right now — number, or when you send an e-mail to the bosses, it really does matter and it’s the most effective method.

    Now, we get messages all the time, I suspect, from people threatening to cancel memberships. But a well-reasoned, thoughtful argument works its way up the chain of command pretty darned quickly, and then comes back down into the lap of the person who can effect change for either a change, or an explanation to you of why there isn’t going to be one.

    When NPR is involved, I can tell you around the country that the stations were blindsided by NPR and they’ve been expressing their opinion on this. Yours will help establish what that opinion is.

    Will NPR care? I don’t know. Some people in the business think Joan Kroc’s money liberated NPR from needing to keep stations happy (frankly, that can cut both ways — it took NPR forever to get onto a digital platform because stations thought it would cut into their audience), but we’ll see.

    Bottom line: The people who control the direction of public radio are the people who contribute to it.

  • Dave Detlie

    I dropped my membership several years ago in response to executive salaries. But watching the incredibly thoughtful, professional way MPR has dealt with an issue not of their making has convinced me to donate again.

    Mr. Collins, I’ve read this blog for quite some time, though never commented until yesterday. You really know how to cut through the crap, to get to the heart of an issue. Quite a contrast to the keystone kop routine at NPR. Thank You!

  • Al

    //Knowing you, Al, my suspicion is you’re really not trying to exercise *financial* leverage, you’re trying to exercise *leverage.* Am I correct?

    Members matter to MPR more than people who aren’t. That’s the reality. So when you call the audience services — or whatever it’s called right now — number, or when you send an e-mail to the bosses, it really does matter and it’s the most effective method.


    Thanks for a good answer. I appreciate a lot about MPR and will likely get over this when renewal time comes around.

    But I think this has been “amateur hour” at NPR, and I am probably left of Juan Williams on most issues. When a liberal like me starts wondering about where political correctness is taking us ….

  • andy

    I’m having a hard time understanding why (many, as it seems at least) people are going completely crazy about Mr. Williams’ firing. I almost have a sneaking suspicion that many people making comments aren’t really members of public radio, just saying they are members and that they will be cancelling their (non)memberships to stick it to NPR. I don’t watch FOX news, but do you think it’s possible that the fine, upstanding news-people that work for FOX could possibly have encouraged their viewers to make their opinions known on NPR/MPR’s websites? Nah, I’m just being a crazy conspiracy theorist. FOX is way above doing something so shady (sarcasm).

    I guess what I’m saying is reading and believing comment sections on news websites is like believing that everything on Wikipedia is completely accurate.

    Sorry, back to the subject. Should he have gotten fired? Maybe, maybe not. I’m quite sure I’m part of the silent majority who has no solid opinion on the matter. I do think that it’s interesting that literally hours after his firing he is offered a $2mil contract with FOX news. I hope this doesn’t turn into a witch hunt against NPR (more so that it already has), because if they were wrong to fire him (which may be the case) it would be far more detrimental if NPR’s services are somehow compromised due to this matter.

    I’m a proud member of MPR (honest) and will continue to be a member.

  • Dan

    Isn’t it ironic that conservatives who generally support the right to fire anyone willy-nilly are indignant about this? Like it or not, Williams represents NPR whenever he is in public. The keyword is analyst, not commentator. This isn’t his first time on the merry-go-round, so he should have known better.

  • david

    Juan said what I believe is the feelings of a lot of Americans. Not scared but would think twice when getting on a plane. I believe this is a normal human reaction though most will be scared to admit. Hurray to Bill on the Factor to help out Juan who was treated unjust. Watch Juan tonight (Fri) to host the Factor….

  • Anna

    We have been living in fear of terrorists ever since 9/11. It is clear from Mr. Williams comments that we are still living in fear and that we do not feel safe.

    Despite numerous attempts at safety precautions to prevent and thwart terrorist attacks around the world and in the U.S., they still occur only now they get played over and over again by media outlets, on the Internet and in print.

    There is a word for this in technospeak—TMI—too much information. A rumor gets started, travels around the world at lightning speed and the poor sucker who has been wrongly accused commits suicide or has his/her good reputation permanently and irreparably damaged.

    I listen to MPR /NPR because I need a balanced approach to the news. I do not subscribe to cable television. I do not Tweet or visit Facebook, MySpace or any other such social networking site.

    In a word, keep your private feelings to yourself if you don’t want to lose your job and by all means don’t go on a national talk show hosted by a person whose only interest is to stir the pot and keep the ratings up.

    And on a final note, senators who want to cut off government funding for news organizations whose opinions do not match their own should be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail!

  • Lee Daily

    Mr. Willaims should not have been fired for this. First of all I can’t understand why this comment is a big deal. The other reason is that if NPR did not want Mr. Williams commenting on another network they should have given him the ultimatun long ago. He was only expressing what many people feel. He had every right to make this comment any time any where.

    I listen to public radio 80% of the time and this is a black eye for NPR as far as I am concerned.

    Aside from Juan Williams being fired why does everyone get so upset when something negative is said about Muslims? Christians, Jews, Hindus, Blacks, Whites, Indians, young folks, old folks or whatever group all take a hit once in a while. What the big deal with Muslims? Their religion is based on myth and superstition just like the others.

  • Josh

    While I don’t think anybody should begrudge a corporation for letting go of an employee who repeatedly splashed around on the wrong side of the line they wanted him to toe, I’m with the others that think this was handled particularly clumsily. To the “smell test,” it reminds me of nothing more than the firing of Shirley Sherrod (and subsequent backpedaling). There’s a lot of hay to be made over the content of Williams’ comments, and they weren’t subject to such a partisan hack job of editing, but it’s the same kind of swift reaction to the *potential* backlash that was at play in that case.

    Mostly, I think it’s a sad commentary on the current media climate that sound bites can wreak such havoc, and that “we” are getting more and more of our news through eight-second snippets of this or that talking/shouting head. N/MPR, though as fallible as any other media outlet(s), at least always *aims* to get past that, which is why this firing creates such friction.

    The cynic in me just wants to take Williams aside and ask “What were you thinking, trying to make a nuanced argument on Bill O’Reilly’s show?”

  • Al

    Following is the response I got from a message to MPR. It leaves me a bit less than fully satisfied. Exactly what is the relationship between member stations and NPR?

    “Thank you for contacting Minnesota Public Radio. We appreciate your comments about the termination of Juan Williams.

    National Public Radio produces programs such as Morning Edition and All Things Considered. However, we are not owned or operated by NPR. As such, we regard this as a human resources issue within NPR, and we are unable to offer a comment.

    Please know that we do value your input. Your comment has been forwarded to our news staff. You may also wish to contact NPR Listener Care at 202-513-3232 , or online at .

    Thanks again for writing, and for listening to MPR”.

  • jerry

    I’m just glad I don’t contribute to such slanted “news” coverage.

    Now if we could just get the federal/state funding slashed!

  • kathryn

    i support NPR 100%

    mr williams is free to express his personal opinions, but he carried the NPR name to the bill o’reilly show. NPR has the right to disassociate itself from such things.

  • Jim

    What I have always liked about NPR is it’s desire to give all perspectives and be balanced. Juan Williams was an excellent part of that. The fact that he contributed to Fox was a plus for NPR because Williams is intelligent and level headed. He was an asset for NPR because he gave the other side of issues in a thoughtful and logical perspective while the Fox people were raving. I think NPR management really over reacted and their actions show a lack of vision and strength.

  • I am long time listener to NPR and I would have to say I agree that upper management over reacted in the firing of Juan Williams.

    It’s greatly disappointing NPR. You are suppose to be better than the other news organizations. You failed here when this could have been a shining moment.

    I think also apologizing for doing the “firing” during a fund drive just shows how bad form it was. If it was something that should have been done, there would be no need to apologize.

  • bsimon

    Al asks “Exactly what is the relationship between member stations and NPR?”

    Its a good question, and I don’t know the real answer. Perhaps Bob can point us in the right direction. Until then, I think of it like TV network affiliates. Affiliates buy shows from the national entity, but are largely under local control. One difference from commercial TV: I don’t think NPR has any say in how MPR operates, which programs they pick up, etc.

  • Bob Collins

    //Bob can point us in the right direction

    Stations pay program providers carriage fees and dues in exchange for the programs. So MPR pays $ to NPR to carry NPR programming and shows. All Things Considered, Morning Edition etc are obviously NPR shows as are the newscasts. And there are also NPR *distributed* shows that are produced by other stations. On the Media (WNYC), Car Talk (WBUR, or is it WGBH? I roget), Fresh Air (WHYY) are all distributed by NPR.

    Other shows are now. This American Life (PRI), for example, and, of course, all the national shows produced by American Public Media — Prairie Home, Speaking of Faith, Marketplace etc.

    I don’t have a breakdown over the course of the week as to how much is NPR provided vs. NPR distributed vs. no relationship with NPR at all, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the bulk of the hours are non-NPR.

    And that’s just the news side. I don’t think The Current has any relationship with NPR. I think Classical probably has a very limited relationship with NPR.

  • GregS

    It is tragic that a fine organization like MPR might suffer because of the thoughtlessness of NPR, but we are judged by the company we keep.

    It is kind of like the post on NewCuts a couple weeks ago where Bob posted an image of a knucklehead at a Tea Party Rally and suggested that the Teabaggers should be careful who they hang out with.

    Back at ya, Bob. 🙂

  • rick bauer

    This is the most vindictive and ridiculous thing that has been done in some time. Stating how you feel should be honored as true and not vindictive. Juan is one of the few who has opinions which are held by most people in this country. This was politically motivated and is the reason why I’m cutting my long ties with MPR. This company was started to be non political and just state facts not suppositions by any group. Finally; The fact that some are scrutinized for what they say and others are not is the maximum in justice in this country today.

  • Bob Collins

    //Juan is one of the few who has opinions which are held by most people in this country.

    Since your cutting your ties with an organization that had nothing to do with the decision, Rick, you’re probably not coming back to follow-up, but if you are, could you tell me EXACTLY what you mean by “opinions which are held by most people in this country.”

    Like what?

  • Wendy Collins

    I’m late to this conversation and not up on every post here, but, inspired by Bob’s material here and today’s broadcast on Talk of the Nation, I just sent my public radio station here in Vermont more money as well as a comment that NPR was absolutely wrong to terminate its relationship with Juan Williams. It makes no sense to respond to the stupidity of NPR’s decisions by punishing local public radio stations. I can despise BP’s decisions and still buy gas from Stan and Betty who own the BP franchise down the road. These are not inconsistent positions.

    thank you for your comments here, bobby