October 21st, 2010
01:50 PM ET

NPR cans Juan Williams, stirs up blogosphere, Twitterati

Many have run to analyst Juan Williams' defense, but some feel NPR was right to can him.

NPR has fired Juan Williams over remarks he made on "The O'Reilly Factor" this week, and there is no shortage of opinions on the analyst's ouster.

Many have jumped to his defense and others have applauded NPR's stand, while a few have expressed concern about the recent firings of journalists who made remarks deemed insensitive or inappropriate. One observer compares the editing of the Williams clip to the video of Shirley Sherrod, which saw the U.S. Department of Agriculture employee fired before her remarks were put into context.

NPR CEO Vivian Schiller said his remarks were inconsistent with NPR's editorial standards and practices and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.

NPR's ethics code provides some insight into the firing: "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. They should not participate in shows electronic forums, or blogs that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis."

To recap, Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly faced heat last week after remarks he made about Muslims on "The View." He was discussing those comments with Williams on "The O'Reilly Factor" when Williams made the remarks NPR found objectionable.

"I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country," Williams said. "But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they're identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

Here is a roundup of reactions from blogs, columns and tweets around the nation:

Sarah Palin: "NPR defends 1st Amendment Right, but will fire u if u exercise it. Juan Williams: u got taste of Left's hypocrisy, they screwed up firing you"

Slate's William Saletan: "Three months ago, right-wingers clipped a video of [Shirley] Sherrod to make her look like a racist. They circulated the video on the Internet, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture fired her. Now it's happening again. This time, left-wingers have done the editing. They clipped a video of Juan Williams, a commentator for Fox News and NPR, to make him look like an anti-Muslim bigot."

Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic: "There's a larger trend here, the increasing tempo of journalist firings around the issues of Islam, terrorism, and Israel. There is Helen Thomas, of course, as well as Octavia Nasr, who was fired by CNN for praising the radical Shi'a Ayatollah Fadlallah. Helen Thomas is a ridiculous figure, and her comments touched on the Shoah, so I think my position on her firing remains, good riddance, but Nasr's firing seemed unjustified to me, and Williams's removal, so far at least, seems unjustified as well."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jay Bookman: His denials of bigotry aside, Williams’ remarks this week validated a stereotype of all Muslims as terrorists just as a similar comment about black people — 'When I get on a bus, if I see black people, I get worried, I get nervous' — validates a perception about black people as criminals. There is no qualitative difference between the two stances. A very small percentage of black people are criminals, and a much much smaller percentage of Muslims are terrorists. But once you start defining the much larger group by the activities of that much smaller subset, you start down a very bad road. NPR, in other words, acted appropriately."

Forbes' Conor Friedersdorf: "I don’t think that Mr. Williams should be fired by NPR, or that it’s good practice in general to fire people based on a single remark, however offensive. (There are exceptions. This isn’t one of them.) I say this as someone who is glad that there is a strong social stigma against bigotry. There is an upside to this stigma that is under-appreciated: it signals to some people that bigotry is wrong, even if they don’t quite understand why."

Mike Huckabee: "NPR has discredited itself as a forum for free speech and a protection of the First Amendment rights of all and has solidified itself as the purveyor of politically correct pabulum and protector of views that lean left."

NPR media reporter David Folkenflick: "Williams also warned Fox host Bill O'Reilly agst blaming all Muslims for 'extremists,' saying Christians shouldn't be blamed for Tim McVeigh"

Salon's Glenn Greenwald: "If we're going to fire or otherwise punish people for expressing Prohibited Ideas against various groups, it's long overdue that those standards be applied equally to anti-Muslim animus, now easily one of the most - if not the single most - pervasive, tolerated and dangerous forms of blatant bigotry in America."

Council on American-Islamic Relations' National Executive Director Nihad Awad: "Such irresponsible and inflammatory comments would not be tolerated if they targeted any other racial, ethnic or religious minority, and they should not pass without action by NPR."

Think Progress: "... [Williams'] kind of thinking is exactly what digs the hole that is America’s fight against terrorism deeper by letting the enemy define the terms of the struggle ..."

Jacob Heilbrunn, author and Huffington Post contributor: He said there "should be taboos when it comes to public discourse. Some taboos are necessary and even vital. Yes, trash-talking about Muslims has become dangerously prevalent. But firing Williams only feeds those sentiments. The honorable thing would have been for Williams to apologize and for NPR to have moved on. Now it's created a furor and turned Williams into a martyr. Williams will survive his firing. The real loser isn't Williams, but NPR."

Editor William Kristol of The Weekly Standard: "Do the powers-that-be at NPR think Juan Williams is a bigot? Do they think a traveler who has a reaction (fair or unfair) like the one Juan describes, in our age of terror in the name of Islam, is a bigot? Of course the powers-that-be at NPR know he's not. In fact, I suspect the powers-that-be at NPR pretty much think what Juan thinks. But the standards of political correctness must be maintained. Pressure groups speaking for allegedly offended Muslims must be propitiated. And so Juan had to go."

Big Journalism's P.J. Salvatore: "A taxpaying-funded organization fired someone over their free speech? No! Shocker! ... Can we stop pretending that this is serious radio and pull their public funding already?"

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Filed under: Civil Rights • Islam • Sarah Palin • Twitter
soundoff (764 Responses)
  1. gary s

    This is typical npr bs. They are really a bigger joke than I thought. A truly partisan act which demonstrates their arrogance.

    October 21, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • TBA

      They not as a big of a joke as Fox News. Now they take the cake of them all. Fox News = Fake News, they calim fair and balance which is a total lie. It's more like Fair and Balance for Republicans.

      October 21, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • jon

      its a shame you cant share your views without being fired npr is so far left i dont listen to them

      October 21, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rusty B

      TBA, Fox isn't funded w/ taxpayer dollars, unlike NPR.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff Kelly

      Poor ol' TBA! Reads and believes CNN, one of the worst and lowest rated news/propaganda/leftist networks in existence.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • slewatha

      I don't have cable or satellite, but I pay ten dollars a month just to listen to NPR. They are easily the most credible news source on the air right now. They do not engage in punditry and they rarely editorialize. A joke they most certainly are not.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • JJinCVCA

      All the righties seem to call it biased if they deem it biased against right, but don't consider it so when they show their own anti-left bias... they call it "opinion" and "views".

      NO, righties, you can't have your cake and eat it too.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed Sr

      First CNN fires a Mexican....now an African American gets fired.............is this country's press partisan or what? This is disgusting....Juan was right....we WERE attacked on 911 due to Muslim religious beliefs............hello........is the press stupid or just stupid?

      October 21, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerry BFF

      NPR gets about 15% of it's funding from gov't...and much of that is state funding, not fed. But, I still think firing JW is a huge f up.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • monobot

      @ jon – how do you know NPR is "so far left" if you don't listen to them?

      I hear a LOT of conservative views on NPR. In fact, the reason why I listen to it is because it is a source of political news where I hear arguments from both sides, unlike Fox or even CNN.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gav

      Juan, move on, NPR needs you more than you need them. Don't apologize. What you spoke has a basis in fact. What Jessie Jackson said has a basis in fact. Unfortunately facts have little relevance to the radicals and apologists.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • A Big No No

      This is not so much about partisan politics as it is knee jerk reactions and over sensitivity (cuz I hear the same from conservocrats all the time – Oh no liberals don't agree with me, therefore my freedome of speech is being violated by liberals!).

      Everyone on both sides need to grow the F up.

      I am a liberal and I too am frightened at first by seeing muslims on airplanes. I also sqaw two planes fly into the WTC, I smelled the fuel, saw the bodies, and ran for my life, so sorry NPR, there are in fact those of us on your side who think it is total BS that you fired this man fopr speaking a very reasonable truth.

      The muslim community is not an evil group and I do not believe they are out to get me. I am convinced sick fringe fanatsic are, and as a result, I think twice when I see a muslim on a plane.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • UHhello

      Really I listen to KTAK which carries Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and some local right wingers who are not so extremist. I also used to listen to Air America (lefty's like Ed Schultz, Dan Hartman, Rachael Maddow, and others some more extreme) and I listen to NPR and MPR ( Minnesota's branch of NPR) I must say it is by far the most non-biased and politically neutral of the 3. I don't have cable so I am talking radio here. I don't watch MSNBC, Faux, etc for news only local news. If you don't listen to all of them I don't think you can really compare fairely. I know it is only my opinion but I listen to Left,Right and Middle every day and NRP is in the middle..

      October 21, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • amethod

      Apparently NPR can't tell the difference between rhetoric/opinion and self-reporting of ones feelings in regard to an important and timely subject. They aren't fooling anyone – they are mad because they felt FOX was getting more mileage out of Juan than they were and they struck back in the only way their puny brains could concoct. Pathetic NPR. Pathetic.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • pr

      Juan................You said what you felt...................You are awesome.............There is no reason for any one to fire you...........

      October 21, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa C.

      When are people going to learn to just stick to the facts and keep you personal fears and biases off the air waves. To Juan...CHECK YOURSELF. Maybe this will wake up some journalists and reporters to check themselves before they wreck themselves. Thank you NPR for having STANDARDS and holding their employees ACCOUNTABLE!!! Now somebody get rid of Bill O'Reilly...oh wait..he's on Fox...what the heck was I thinking????

      October 21, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • whatever

      NPR a credible news source! (laugh laugh) You apparently didn't listen to their completely biased back to back interviews of Sean Hannity and Al Franken. I voted Democrat the election before that and I was still appalled at how bad it was~!

      October 21, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • socalpimp

      Good for NPR!!! Juan Williams is a racist and an enemy of ISLAM!!!!

      October 21, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • terry

      I I find it funny with all the bashing of NPR, including comments coming from two republican candidates that came dangerously close to be elected again for public office that neither one looked at the NPR code of ethics policy. He was clearly in breach of that policy and should have known better , he made a mistake and paid for it. Palin going on about freedom of speech is a joke, there is a public trust that comes with certain positions and journalism is one of them. Your right to freedom of speech is a given but it doesn't come without consequences, if you say something in a public forum, people can and will make assumption about you and that is their right. I'm sure if Sarah or Mike went on the Fox Entertainment Show they do and started advocating the benefits of the Obama administration’s policies they would terminate her right to free speech faster than you can say " Bill O'Reilly is the play ground bully of the right wing we know what's better for you just ask us party "

      October 21, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Saul Freedman

    I don't like Juan Williams. How does he feel about Jews wearing skull caps? NPR over reacted, but I can understand the feelings. Too much political appropriateness for me.

    October 21, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • bruceben9

      hey boychik. i am sure some will disagree but, jews didn't fly planes into the wtc.

      October 21, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ash

      Alright. Who wants some?

      October 21, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fakenews

      Why was Rick Sanchez FIRED from CNN ???

      October 21, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shane

      If Jews had blew up the twin towers people would be wisely wary as any normal person would. Its like almost getting hit by a car, that doesn't mean your a car bigot just because you are wary of them in the future.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • BC

      The difference Saul,is Jews in skull caps aren't flying plains into buildings or blowing themselves and others up in the name of GOD. Jaun Williams voice what most of us think if we're honest, when we get on a plain and see someone dressed is Muslem attair. You do start thinking about what might happen. He didn't say he'd get off the plain or demand the Muslem passenger be removed. He just told us what he was thinking. The NPR thought police stikes again. Hey NPR, there realy is another point of view other than your left wing view. Stop worrying about being so politically correct. Try being honest for a change.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • blakeman

      I would answer your query with regard to myself in this way. In the absurd, if we were at war with a group that claimed to be fighting in the name of Judaism, it would make me nervous to see someone in a skullcap. That does not mean I would think less of them in general, but I would be aware of their actions around me. We are at war, and NPR cannot change that fact.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crossfire

      Well, imagine being in the middle seat on a plane, between a Muslim and a Jew, and your atheist magazine falls out of your bag..... awkward...

      October 21, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • monobot

      Ash – you are awesome. I got your reference. Beauty!

      October 21, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • freedtoo

      bc...I am not trying to be a smart a...se and I like your comments, but your spelling needs a little work. "planes" not "plains".

      October 21, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • UHhello

      seriously I think he can voice what he feels but as a news caster on a very non-biased network he should bite his tongue. On the other hand in response to several paranoid postings below. I don't get nervous when Muslims get on a plane dressed in Hadjib etc.....because Terrorist wouild want to "blend in" to accomplish their goals. Too much FEAR exists on the right, you folks need to read some history, The Irish protestants were blowing up Irish Catholics all through the 60's and 70's, Jews are blowign up Paliestinians (though since now they wear uniforms it makes it okay), and palastinians are blowing up Jews, Hindi's are blowing up Muslims and Muslims are blowing up Hindi's, If you are going to live in Fear of a Religious group that might be dangerous you won't ever get on a plane!!! Fear is our own worst enemy stop the fear and stop the hate. It is not at all about being PC or staying neutral it is about FEAR MONGERING and RACIAL/REIGIOUS profiling!!! That is why he got let go!!!

      October 21, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ladrikius

      Jews wearing skull caps have not murdered and terrorized Americans.

      October 21, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ladrikius

      If a black man leaves a restaurant alone or with his wife late at night and has to walk by a group of ten or so disheveled white boys standing around with no apparent purpose near his car, he would be a fool not to be cautious, and maybe go back inside until the situation changed. Reverse the races: still true. Make them all the same race
      ; still true. My wife (pedestrian) was hit by a car years ago: still ultra cautious when crossing a street, even though she was struck only once. Caution is survival.

      October 21, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. D Issapointing

    The network should be ashamed of this cowardly move, and henceforth loses all its own credibility as a source of information from those who care about their nation.

    October 21, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • D J Davis

      JW should have read his contract with NPR before he started running off at the mouth trying to say what BO wanted to hear. If you break the rules, you have to suffer the consequences,

      October 21, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bruceben9

    just one more reason for my having left the so called democratic party. 25yrs as a registered dem. goodbye.

    October 21, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bertina

      Good riddance.

      October 21, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ash

      That's it, go ahead and run. Run home and cry to mama!

      October 21, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • sssimon

      Huh? Why would this make you leave the Democratic Party? Not that there aren't plenty of valid reasons but this is not one of them. Are you saying that you are no longer a liberal and a progressive because a few people within that movement sometimes go overboard when trying not to offend others? So what have you given up? Being a progressive and a liberal? Trading all that in to be a right wing hater now are you?

      October 21, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • D J Davis

      It is certainly your right to switch, but I think you should get the facts first. You won't be missed.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JHG

    Juan added commentary that is supported by most Americans. It is not a reason to fire him. This country is really going to hell.

    October 21, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • DanW

      It's "most Americans"thet the PC-Nazis are trying to to change. They know better, don't ya know?

      October 21, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gunjo

      ...which tells a lot of how culturally intelligent Americans are

      October 21, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Saylorscreek

    I quit listening to NPR a long time ago, and now i see why. I didn't always agree with Mr. Williams, but he had the right speak as he feels and this just stinks. This man is an honored senior professional who should have never been treated this way. The most callow 18 year old newsboy doesn't deserve this–neither does he.

    October 21, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Punctus

    Would be nice to hear what Juan has to say about this.... however I see NPR's point of view. Just appearing on Fox, which is, both in form and content, nothing more than a GOP owned and operated propaganda machine, makes one question his judgement. Having said that, I always thought his analysis on NPR was spot-on.

    October 21, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wow

      Really….. So you always thought his analysis on NPR was spot-on…. But when he takes those same Liberal views to … O my god… Fox News…. He is nothing more than a republican mouth piece….Libtard….

      October 21, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darnel

      The libtard NPR has gone over the edge this time. I am calling and writing my representatives and demanding that all public funding be denied NPR. I am joining The Heritage Foundation today and will work through it to disband this socialist radio outlet.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • sssimon

      That's right WOW. No one whould legitimize FOX news or Bill O'Reilley or any of the other right wing freaks by appearing on the media with them.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alene

      I wonder if anyone was ever frightened of being in an elevator with Juan Williams. The man should not profile.
      Fox News has as its biggest investor, a Saudi Prince by the name of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. Bin Talai is quite close to the Murdoch family. Rupert Murdoch owns Fix.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • BC

      You libs just can't stand it that Fox news is kicking CNN and MSNBC's butt in the ratings. If you ever watched Fox you'd find that they give both sides of a story, not just the left wing side. That what you don't want to hear. You so used to drinking the Kool Aid of the left you can't stomack honest news. What repulican organizatoin owns Fox News? What about you buddy George Souris who funds every left wing cause and organization he can fine? Grow up and learn to listen to both sides of an argument.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wow

      Good comeback ssimon…. typical liberal... we can't win when we debate them so we just need to call them names and yell real loud...

      October 21, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. R.Royal

    How do we stop our tax dollars from supporting such nonsense????

    October 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gunjo

      yes, I do no want to pay taxes for health care expenses of those who choose to stuff coke, pork and burgers 10 times a day in their lazy backs...

      October 21, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Night Wings

    Juan did nothing wrong!! how many times have muslims had an out cry agains tother muslims, for something they did wrong?

    October 21, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. WhiteKong78

    People should be asking why the news is either slanted left or right. The answer is divide and conquer. Its not about whether you agree with a certain agenda, but whether you want to be lied to and have your thoughts controlled. The media has managed to manipulate the public in service to the same corrupt political figures that seek to control us. Wake up people.

    October 21, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerry BFF

      Well said. Divide and conquer. The whole thing is "MY side is right...YOUR side is wrong." And the "pundits" keep making money, and the Americans just lose. (But, it's the other guys fault, not mine!")

      October 21, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ken

    All they've done is give Fox News the chance to hire him away from NPR. If he takes a job with Fox then he'll be able to express his views about such things and NPR will NOT be able to do anything to him. All they've done is show us just how stupid they are in backing the liberal bias's liberals have. I also find NPR is more raciest because they did fire him, he's liberal, black, and educated. And they've only expressed his PERSONAL FEELINGS that NPR lets others express all the time. I think he should sue, and the government should cut all funding.

    October 21, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darnel

      I agree,especially since George Soros has donated over a million $s to this outfit.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      Now he can go to work fulltime for the # 1 new network.....yeah FOX News, the only ones who tell both sides of the story and they're kicking CNN and MSNBC and all the others in the rear.

      October 21, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. john patton

    These people are idiots. Jaun williams is as liberal as they come. At this rate former president clinton will be known as an racistm

    October 21, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guester

      Most liberals are.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerry BFF

      @Guester...that's not only an unfounded statement...it's just dumb.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Um – no he's not and this isn't the first time he's said something questionable . . .

      October 21, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • freedtoo

      Guest....Explain questionable.

      October 21, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. WhiteKong78

    Those who blast FOX News should be equally angry that MSNBC and many other News organizations are playing the same game to promote leftist views. Simply agreeing with a certain agenda does not mean you are getting the truth. It just happens to be the truth that's easier for you to deal with.

    October 21, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ancient Texan

    No more contributions to PBS (NPR) and I hope Federal funding is cut off as soon as Congress can get to it. Juan wasn't my favorite commentator but he was always fair and civil. Why did NPR not fire Bill Moyers? He was a loose cannon who said what he thought.

    October 21, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      First it's not PBS – second Williams does analysis, not opinion and third you're not so smart . . . sooooo shush . . .

      October 21, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. MWRnow

    It's not NPR's fault. They are a victim of their own philosophy. It's this very philosophy that drove me away from them years ago. Nothing new here. It's just annoying that a good, honest man was let go...just to purify NPR's dogma. Juan Williams, in the long run, will be better off. Now, I wonder what happens to their Pledge Week donations. Want to guess?

    October 21, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
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