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?"

Post by:
Filed under: Civil Rights • Islam • Sarah Palin • Twitter
soundoff (764 Responses)
  1. Linda

    Did he really mean what he said or was he trying to please O'reilly?. I have noticed that when he is on the other show(Something that has to do with Washington)he has a different opinion. When he goes on Fox news, he turns into a different person(all negative. I see Muslin and different types of people eveyday and I'm not afraid of them. I guess I'm one that sees the good in everyone until something negative toward me happens, then I don't blame a whole race of people for that one incident.

    October 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lola Mae

      Who are the Muslins? Do they wear only beige colored clothes?

      October 21, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dman01

    Freedom of speech is your right. If asked you should answer the question and not skirt around it. This is a true form of discremination against someone who is merely speaking the truth. NPR should be ashamed of themsleves. I have heard that news channel state things in regards to priests and catholics etc.. This is no different. Just an excuse to cut down salary. Muslims I do not trus and never will does that make me a bigot? No I have the right to express how I feel that is all. You Cant make anyone like or respect you in any way. So it is what it is and this is truely un-American to fire someone on their beliefs. Muslims you are to be treated no different than ME> that is all

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

      Wrong!!! Williams represents himself on O'Reilly as "an NPR Journalist" – Williams broke NPRs code of ethics multiple times – therefore, he was FIRED!!!! Good for NPR!!!! Now Williams can voice his bigoted "concerns" on FIXNEWS where he fits right in... as a fulltime jerk and bigot!!!

      October 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • sls0463

      DMAN01 – His 1st amendment rights weren't compromised. The 1st amendment does not gaurantee employment. NPR simply told him you can't say that and work for us. They are within their rights whether anyone likes it or not.

      October 21, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      @sls0463
      But when you have a news organization that accepts Taxpayer $$ ie my $$$ then I have a problem with them and their right to fire him over his 1st Amendment right. I would agree with you if it were a private news organization.

      October 21, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • funyy

      "I mean, look, People, I'm not a bigot. you know i'm OK with all people," I said. "But when I walk on the street alone, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in black people's clothe and I think, you know, they're identifying themselves first and foremost as black, I get worried. I get nervous."

      October 21, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bobby2003

    Liberals always throw hissie fits when they get caught by the rules they force on everyone else.

    October 21, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ALI

    Mr.williams shouldn't be worried about al qaeda but instead should be worried about AL Craker. he forgot that he's black. lol

    October 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • FAb

      very true

      October 21, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    Good riddance! Such bigots (Juan Williams, Rick Sanchez) can only be allowed by foxists on fox tv not on respected educative channels like NPR.

    October 21, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      NPR wouldn't even be able to stay on the air if it wasn't funded by taxpayers. It's a joke of a radio station

      October 21, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lee

    I an not sure how carefully he was warned by NPR or what it said in his contract, but his remark was unwise. It is quite a step to fire soeone and caution is best. It was an insulting remark at the very least.

    October 21, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • debbi

      NPR Stands for National PUBLIC Radio-not liberal, politically correct radio. Freedom of Speech is also guaranteed to Mr. Williams in his capacity as a human being, who was asked about his own thought/feelings-if NPR wants to censor opinions, that should be spelled out in the journalist's contract.

      October 21, 2010 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Diana

    I hate to see anyone loose their job, but Mr. Williams should think twice about what he is saying. There was a time when a white person would cross the street if Mr. Williams (a black man) was approching them...they had stereotyped Mr. Willams whole race. He of all people should be more sensitive to racism and stereotyping....especially if he is supposed to be a professional and have the opportunity to speak in public venues.

    October 21, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. 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 from 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 said out load what most people think, but the political kowtowing to the Muslims prevail...after all the Saudis might cut the oil off again......WAKE UP

    October 21, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • brdenden

      Another n!gg@ dumb wanna be white. lol

      October 21, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diana

      Thank goodness most people don't think like him or you. It's only a radical few who are paranoid and don't know anything about the Moslem religion...only what they hear from the news..and if you watch Fox news you will hear nothing but negativity about Muslims. When something happens we all need to stop generalizing and labeling everyone...this is called prejudice and we, as Americans (especially Christian ones) should be above this.

      October 21, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Mize

      How many muslims were totally massacared by the crusaders hmmmm.....sound radical to me

      October 21, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • dw8623

      Fred – I too wonder why we never hear words of condemnation from these "moderate" muslims towards the "radicals". Why don't they speak out against the radicals and say that their interpretation of the Quran and the teachings of Mohammed are wrong and why. Tell us how these passages in the Quran that specifically instruct believers to be violent are misinterpreted by the radicals. Oddly enough, sometimes I think the "moderate" muslims are the ones who have misinterpreted.

      October 21, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Moktor

      @John You *DO* realize that, as bad as the Crusades were, that they were a response to the Muslims taking the middle east by force, slaughtering anyone who didn't convert? That's right. Islam started that one, too.

      October 21, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • RWR47

      Very well said Fred, and if the truth were know I would bet that the majority of Americans feel the same way and don't want to admit it. Our "Political Correctness" toward the Muslim Radicals is going to be our downfall yet. There has been more voice come from the Moderate Muslim community now than they were every willing to speak up and condemn about 9/11. It was Muslims who blew up the Twin Towers, they did come into our country, train in our country and they did their attack with our airplanes. I have absolutely nothing against the Moderate Muslims, but their religion DOES tell them to kill anyone who is not a Muslim. They didn't come here to change their beliefs and the Moderate Muslims were few and far between to speak out and condemn 9/11. I am tired of having to tip-toe around the facts!!!!! When the Terrorist Level goes to the top of the scale I don't think about the Catholics, Buddists or Methodist. Do you?????????

      October 22, 2010 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  9. sparknut

    I get nervous too. Not proud of it, just a fact.

    October 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mike

    Juan Williams, Rick Sanchez are like B O Reilly. You can't teach an old horse new tricks. They won't get it!

    October 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Puzzled

    Gee Willikers CNN, Jeff, (who some call Netanyahu's stenographer – and worse) apparently forgot to mention your own ultra-quick canning of Rick Sanchez??? Wonder why?

    "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."

    October 21, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Beware_of_God

    He was just being honest. It was a personal remark. Are we all not allowed to have our own feelings and thoughts anymore. And when asked to express one or more of them, is it wrong to show that we are human too with fears, phobias, a few unwarranted concerns at times. Everyone is way to concerned about political correctness. If you got on a plane and noticed Muslim looking people and didn't take a second look or a pause of concerned, you must have been living in a cave the last 10 years. If a black person got on a plane and saw a person dressed in a KKK outfit, should he not pause and take a second look of concern and/or disgust.

    October 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • RWR47

      That is the most "common sense remark" I have read today.

      October 22, 2010 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. rodboy

    NPR has let several other bigoted remarks slide – like the US Military leadership, Christians and ever Republicans. Why take a stand here???? Maybe the view WOMEN and Helping Women or I forgot the women on the View are Rhodes Scholars. Maybe it is a shot at O'reily.

    October 21, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. patty

    I think we get a little carried away with this stuff. I'm surprised anyone will speak at all publicly.

    October 21, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Shelby McCurnin

    I have listened to Juan for many years on NPR. It is fine when he gives opinions that jive with the liberal beliefs of NPR's staff, but as soon as it doesn't.. there is no room for him at NPR. This is absolute proof of why NPR should not receive any government funding. It is a biased news organization skinning the American taxpayers.

    October 21, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • andy c

      your comment does not make logical sense! Private companies can hire and fire who they want, or are you another tea -bagger that thinks NPR is government run? LOL! Palin and Huckabee both made the idiotic comment and the sheep blindly follow their leaders. Don't worry, he just got a $2million dollar contract from FOX. Now he can hate Muslims all day long. The more hate he speaks, the more he'll get paid. FOX is the racism leader!

      October 21, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      @Andy C and NPR just got 1.8 mil from George Soros. I say we are even

      October 21, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28