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. scottnphx

    I heard this on NPR this morning. I'm a loyal NPR listener and its become clear over the last four or five years that they have no tolerance for anything other than a left leaning PC position. They adverstise as fair and unbiased but in truth they are just as biased as Fox or any other news outlet. Mr. Williams should not have been fired for expressing his opinion considering it was just that, his own personal opinion and not that of Fox or NPR.

    October 21, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Willy Brown

    I like Juan even those he’s bought and paid for BUT he went off George Soros’s plantation and was fired. Progressives eat their own went it comes to free speech.

    October 21, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Michael

    I weep for our future when you can no longer speak your mind without fear of offending the very people who scream the loudest for free speech.

    Be happy I'm not in charge, I'd pull NPR's funds so fast it would make their collective empty heads spin.

    October 21, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • JH

      Pull what funds? Please become informed. Then, just don't give during the next pledge drive. I'm sure you'll feel much better.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • KAPA

      Yes JH – please become informed. From Wiki: According to the 2005 financial statement, NPR makes just over half of its money from the fees and dues it charges member stations to receive programming. Public funding accounts for 16% of the average member station's revenue, with 10% of this coming in the form of grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a federally funded organization. Member stations that serve rural and "minority" communities receive significantly more funding from the CPB.


      Liberals are not for free speech, they are for their speech.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Denise

    Hey NPR what is this the Salem Witch Hunt? McCarthyism? Williams has a right to his opinion, and was brave to express it. Stating one's fears does not make them a complete insensitive racist. Kudos to Williams. I hope you find a better job.

    October 21, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. NOmoreNPR

    We should stop funding this Ultra-Liberal mockery of a news show!!Why would 70 % of Americans whom don't watch this crap have to pay for it?We need to cut spending and we should start here with National Propaganda Network!

    October 21, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      Ummm – I think 100% of Americans don't WATCH NPR! NPR is a RADIO outfit! If you are WATCHING your radio I think your judgement about its quality is suspect.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tamara

    I agree with Erick. If someone makes a remark about African-Americans, there would be a riot. And this man, who is African-American, makes a crazy remark about Muslims. If there are many black rapists, can I call black men rapists and say on National TV that I am afraid when I see a black man. I am amazed at people who claim what he said was the freedom of speech. It was another story if he was not a journalist. However, as a journalist, his actions is absolutely insanse and his firing is justified.

    October 21, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dawn

      If I were trying to maintain some sort of dignity and integrity for a news corp, I'd fire anyone who went on O'Reilly, too.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • atishe@msn.com

      right on

      October 21, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • haloguy628

      Ironically everyday Caucasians are blatantly called racist without anybody batting an eye.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mac

      Well put.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • arthur

      An honest response is not welcome in this country any more. the truth hurts.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • John T

      This forum censors anything of substance. Consequently I cannot talk about what their literature say about him.

      All that can get past the censors is that being black is not a doctrine, it is not a choice of beliefs. There is a huge difference.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • John T

      Isn't it bizarre that if I put the name of the founder of that religion or the name of the religion in, the system censors it?

      That way, it is impossible to educate people about him and the terrible things he did. Look them up. It is astonishing and will rock you back.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • John T

      In fact, I am beginning to think that Arab ownership of the mass media is the reason why we don't hear the truth about this religion. The censorship is astonishing in its scope and depth.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      He get fired because he's scared? That's nice. Seems to me he was talking about his fears. Last time I checked, your feeling and mine, and Juans, are valid. Could they be unjustified? Sure. The only people blowing up commercial airlines lately are muslims. For that, we are all very sorry. But it is true, no one can deny it. So, I say NPR made a mistake. I'm a pro-life Dem, I like Juan, he's a good reporter. Now he will be on Fox more, which is OK with me. Problem is, we get less unbiased news and more opinion. I miss Walter Cronkite and Tim Russert!

      October 21, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Randy

      Agree. According to a Rand study and also a State Department study (2006) of global terrorist incidents, about 25% -30% of all terrorist attacks are committed by Muslims. While about 70% – 75% are committed by people who are not Muslims.
      Facts are stubborn, but so are commentators like O'Reilly who insist that most or all terrorist attacks are committed by Muslims (multiple occasions on his show).

      October 21, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      It's too bad we're so politically correct. my hat's off to this guy.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Is Juan Williams a bigot. Well, no. But journalism is a special calling that requires an intellectual discipline we do not require of other professions. I cannot see a Muslim seriously considering an interview with Juan Williams after this remark. Consider someone consider "young black men walking together make me nervous," and you can understand the problem.

      October 21, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • kd

      I actually think Juan Williams is a bigot for what he said. And as mentioned above, he's in the news business, not the entertainment business (although it's getting harder to differentiate with Fox out there). He should report the news, period. He should analyze the news, as I assume he is trained to do. But I could care less what's in the recesses of his personal feelings and beliefs. This shows O'Reilly's lack of credentials and standards as much as it reveals an ugly side to Williams.

      And I am sick to death of conservatives whining about 'political correctness'. There is no such thing. Every time a conservative gets in trouble or fired for saying or doing something highly offensive, other conservatives attack the victims by using that ridiculous and meaningless phrase 'political correctness'. It is absolutely nonsensical and removes conservatives from the debate. It's slinging non-existent mud. It's sad and pathetic and reveals those that use the phrase as haters themselves because they are aligning with the offender.

      October 21, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • saha

      Penney-wise pound-foolish. A silly remark from an otherwise reasonable journalist ended up to be big deal. A person should be judged for the life-time achievement, not for a weak moment in life. Honestly, many of us (liberal, conservative, tea-party member do feel and act the same way, but would not admit it for fear of repraisal. Stereotyping is a human instinct though we should fight it at all cost. We can all make a momentary slip! Rick Sanches lost his job in a similar way. Nobel Laureate Jim Watson fell from grace for a silly remark like this! We should be more tolerant both in the left and the right alike.

      October 21, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • JL

      "If someone makes a remark about African-Americans, there would be a riot."
      -thats absolutely absurd, people do all the time and riots rarely occur unless that city's sports team recently won a world championship
      "And this man, who is African-American, makes a crazy remark about Muslims."
      -Your assuming. I thought he might have some asian descent. He made no generalization about Muslims but rather how they made him feel when he is on an airplane.
      " If there are many black rapists, can I call black men rapists and say on National TV that I am afraid when I see a black man."
      -Why are you making this about race? He is uneasy because Muslims declared war on our country 9 years ago and killed thousands of Americans. They did so not because of the color of their skin, but because their false religion of Islam commands them to (The Koran has hundreds of versus about killing Jews and Christians).
      " I am amazed at people who claim what he said was the freedom of speech. It was another story if he was not a journalist. However, as a journalist, his actions is absolutely insanse and his firing is justified."
      -Because you are a journalist, you are not allowed to say how you feel? He's just supposed to be a fact reporting machine with no emotions what-so-ever. That would make for some great TV.

      October 21, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred

      It is about time we stop bowing to the Muslims...I mean you cannot say one word without being called a racist.
      Why are you bending to them...is every body afraid that 911 will happen again....THEY COME HERE AND DEMAND THAT THE JUSTICE SYSTEM TO BE CHANGED TO SUIT THEM,
      They preach violence but nothnig is done to them for fear of being called racist.
      All the brutal actions that are committed in the name of Allah give creedence to peoples fears as we never seem to hear form the so called moderate muslims saying the killings, torture and all the other wonderful things that are done by Muslims cease...their silence seems to say OK no problem. No..Mr. Williams siad out load wht most peple think but the political kowtowing to the Muslims prevail...after all the Saudis migh cut the oil off again......WAKE UP

      October 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Iconnic58

    NPR was not wrong in following its policy for employees. However, if anyone thinks NPR is leftist hasn't been really listening of late. NPR has gone Repblican or at least Repuplican biased. If you've been listening as I do every day although I have wondered lately why I bother, check out its relationship to Peu Research Center. Everything that comes out of that place is smack dab in Republican country. I am shocked they had the balls to fire Mr. Williams over this as they also actually covered the Peu Research Center's poll as to if Americans believe that Barak was Muslim or Christian, I actually picked up the phone and called the NPR Omsbudsman on that one! What what that doing on NPR radio? I wanted to know, if I wanted that type of journalism I'd listen to FOX. The last time I was in school that had all the makings of what was once considered yellow journalism. NPR has become very to the right, if you listen on a regular basis, the right should be very pleased with NPR of late. I am shocked they managed to do this. I for one didn't contribute to their campaign this year because of their stance on a lot of issues.

    October 21, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shane

      I really don't hear the same thing you are.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • E.C

      When does that air 3am?

      October 21, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      NPR right leaning, ummm, not even dude, nice try. Hah, that's a good one. I listen every day, don't contribute because the airways are free and I have no money. If you hear things that don't line up with your perspective, does that really make them "right leaning". They are so Left leaning, not even funny bro! Nice try. Hah, funneeeeeeey.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. FortSumter

    Where are all these Moderate Muslims we here about? I think that if their were a large protest let's say in Egypt of a couple hundered thousand people chanting death to Osama Bin Laden we would hear about it don't you think? Christians are not perfect, but most Church leaders came out against the Preacher who wanted to burn the Quran. Most Americans thought the Preacher was a fool. If the shoe was on the other foot do think Muslims in Yemen or Saudi Arabia would feel the same way? Hell you could not find a Bible in any of those coutries anyway because Bibles are not allowed!!! The majority of Christians in America were opposed to KKK, Slavery and pro civil rights and marched and died for those freedoms.

    October 21, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • hanoman

      Most american were against KKK??? What America you lived in?

      October 21, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • FortSumter

      You are wrong. Yes the KKK was strong in some areas from the 20's to the mid 60's, but the majority of Americans were opposed their ideals. Most of our political leardership particularly our Presidents did every possible to destory the Klan. FDR, Truman, JFK, Johnson used the FBI to destory their network. We elected these Presidents the majortiy of Americans. You are wrong!!

      October 21, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • John T

      Actually, President Wilson invited the KKK to his inaugural ball. Prior to FDR, the KKK was powerful and popular. Times change.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ben Cooper

    Yeah, let's keep pandering to the Muslims. Fire Juan! But's let's not stop there! What do you say we fire everyone in the United States that has a negative opinion of this filthy cult masquerading as a religion? And when another murdering Muslim kills innocents in the United States, we'll jail anyone that says a bad word against the killer and his profane beliefs.

    October 21, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • readthebook

      Ben, if you were somebody that anyone cared about, you would be gone too. So, be glad you can rant becasue you are nobody.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • YOU are not me...

      @Ben Arent you late for a Klan meeting?

      October 21, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • John T

      Sadly, he isn't ranting. He is extremely accurate. This is what anyone that studies their literature and history finds out. It isn't pretty at all. You people are ignorant.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Randy

      And how about the deaths of nearly 100,000 Iraqi (Muslims) due to an US invasion ? And 4 million Iraqi refugees ?
      How about starting a Civil War in Somalia by surgical strikes and green lighting an Ethiopian invasion by the Bush Administration (2006). Any innocents over there ?

      October 21, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. gh0st83

    You have to be a retard to still believe 9/11 was done by muslims. I would be more afraid to fly with a plane loaded with US government officials? Since it was our own government who were 100 percent responsible for 9/11. People attack muslims for 9/11 is the same as attacking polar bears for the halocaust. Neither one caused it. Learn physics learn common sense.

    October 21, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben Cooper

      Even Bill Clinton would throw up here. Is your real name Rosie?

      October 21, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • mycatsbreathsmellslikecatfood

      entirely correct...people have been brain washed by the media into believing it.

      go to hunttheboeingcom...the french do some interesting research on the pentagon and how a plane couldnt and did not hit it. and those who dont believe me or call me crazy, please find one picture or photographic evidence of a plane hitting that building...i guarantee, you will not

      October 21, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • E.C

      You've really got to be joking!! It's an insult to the those that died on 9/11 and all those innocents that continue to die at the hands of terrorists. Shame on you!!!!

      October 21, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • YOU are not me...

      It's an insult to those that died if we don't question what actually happened! Way too many anomolies not to at least take a closer look. With Cheney in charge it's completely possible.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lena

      Kyle did it, Cartman knows better

      October 21, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ben Cooper

    Juan, I hope you sue that idiot at NPR that suggested you need a psychiatrist.

    October 21, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. readthebook

    As much as I fear a black man on the street at night, I have to come to terms or stay home.
    Mr. Williams has to get over it or stop flying.

    October 21, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Get Real

      Your comments are that of a coward, a bigot, and completely contrary to the beliefs in liberties this contrary holds dear.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ben Cooper

    Time to put the NPR idiot, Whoopi and the biggest moron in the history of the world, Joy Behar, on a plane to Riyadh where she can run her mouth as usual just to see how long it'll be before they tie her to a post and lash her.

    October 21, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Doc

    to gh0st83- You are so stupid it sits on you like a halo. Go get yourslef a brain enema.

    October 21, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. reg

    Fox news is so dam bias that they should shut down there one sided broadcast.Everybody knows what they stand for ..ask wolf blitzer.

    October 21, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yeah

      Or Ask Keith Oberman. He will tell you how one sided FOX news is!!!!

      October 21, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben Cooper

      No one wants to see or ask Wolf Blitzer anything. That's why his ratings are so low. I mean, what's a Wolf Blitzer? A college senior on a drinking binge?

      October 21, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Or

      You could ask Whoopi, Those three are the most informed people when it comes to Fox News

      October 21, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • the truth in yooooo

      yea they stand for #1 network in ratings haha

      October 21, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • hahaha

      right, because CNN and MSNBC are just sooooooooooo bipartisan

      October 21, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • E.C

      If you are on the hard left, then you will always see Fox as one-sided. But most disagree with you. They have their hard conservatives, no doubt. But in this age of PC news and less than truthfull networks (MSNBC) I enjoy the go arounds on Fox.

      October 21, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
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