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. Randy

    I want NPR's funding cut to zero. I don't want one dime of my taxes going to support those vindictive narrow-minded people.

    October 21, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Grimlock

    I believe in freedom of speech. I believe he has the right to say as he wishes. I don't agree with what he said. I am sure if I said "When I get on a bus and see a black man in gang garb, I get kinda worried" I would be called a racist and a bigot. What he said is no different. If a group of black men go on a killing spree, do we hold their actions against all black people? Sure there are a few racist idiots in this country, but a majority would not. Yet a majority hold the actions of a few muslims against all muslims. There are 7.5 million muslims that are American citizens in this country that have done nothing wrong. Muslim Americans died on 9/11. A mosque was destroyed on 9/11.

    Extremists attacked us on 9/11. Extremists who happen to be muslims. It is sad so many can not differentiate between the two.

    October 21, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Logopolis

      So: on December 7, 1941..... Who attacked us? – I forget.....

      October 22, 2010 at 4:39 am | Report abuse |
  3. steve

    there are just to many under handed people inthis administration makes u wonder what kind of favors they have to do to join the party hum

    October 21, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Brianc

    When will this country stop being so over-sensitive?? Is it free speech, or is it free speech only when it's politically correct?

    October 21, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. duke

    No,muslims never speak out against the extremist,unless bush lied with his sunni awakening,
    Unless the muslim american soldiers never existed.
    When have you ever heard of a republican defending a "liberal"??
    That's how you know juan is wrong!
    By the way I get so scared of white men in suits,I think they should all be held in a concentration camp!

    October 22, 2010 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  6. Tod

    The only comments I see that are worthy are the comments regarding political correctness. We have become slaves to being politically correct. For all the muslims out there, please explain WHY the quran explicitly tells you to kill people who do not follow islam? Is this God or Allah's way? The quran has the content of a book that tells people to eliminate those who do not believe in islam. This does not sound like a being of higher intelligence, this sounds like a group of people who want to control and dominate to me. Repudiate yourself from this thinking, for it is not the way to a higher intelligence, it's a way back to the middle ages.

    October 22, 2010 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Tod

      I guess that no muslims care to elaborate on these issues in the quran. Why are they hiding from this issue? I guess it stands to reason because you cannot defend this if it is the truth.

      October 22, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tod

      Ignorance is bliss...Right? I guess being ignorant of the truth of the writings in the quran as it reflects to the non-islam believers is the way of deception.

      October 22, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. erich

    I was kind of surprised that Mr. Williams was let go at NPR> He should have been reprimended, but not fired. Now NPR has has caused a major uproar that will likely cause them to lose a great deal of money. I have always enjoyed NPR, this situation will not change that. I will continue to enjoy their programming.

    October 22, 2010 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  8. Davidd1975

    I say, "NBC, ABC, CBS, NPR, CNN and all the other lame medias, fire all the journalist that dare to speak from their heart and express their own opinions. Then Fox can hire them and I can save myself the trouble of having to search for them.

    October 22, 2010 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |
  9. Chris

    If we blame all muslims for 911 then should they blame us for Bosnia where christians put muslims on trains and sent them to death camps.America told them if they do not arm them selfs we would protect them.
    1one million muslims are dead or missing.If all muslims are the same to us then are all christians the same to muslims

    October 22, 2010 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
  10. Chris

    America needs to be careful in WW! the germans went after serbian terrorist and at the end of the war they got blamed.
    That might happen to us.

    October 22, 2010 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. jerry

    npr showed their true colors. they lost my support and I will try to stop my tax dollars funding their cause

    October 22, 2010 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. Betsy

    NPR is a waste of air space and huge waste of our money. How many blacks do they have working for them now? By the way, who is the "rat faced" CEO. God, that's is without a doubt the ugliest white woman I've ever seen. lol

    October 22, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  13. Judy G.

    CNN IS NEXT!!!!

    CNN is in Soros' sight. He's busy trying to destroy FOX, but the next fairest news organization is CNN. You are next.

    October 22, 2010 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. Norbo

    What a lucky break for Juan! He's out of that left wing hell hole NPR and has a new job with the only legitimate news network left in the US. Good luck Juan and God Bless.

    October 22, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Niclas

    758 responses? How come we only see 80 or so??? I've posted 3 responses – not one is showing?

    October 22, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
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