October 25th, 2010
09:29 AM ET

NPR CEO sorry for how she handled Juan Williams firing

NPR CEO Vivian Schiller sent an e-mail to employees apologizing for the way she handled the firing of Juan Williams after his comments on Fox News' Bill O'Reilly show about Muslims, but also insisted she believes the company still made the right call.

Fox News has assailed NPR for its handling of the situation, calling it an assault on free speech and stoking GOP pundits and potential presidential candidates to demand that NPR's government funding be cut.

NPR posted the e-mail on their news blog, "The Two-Way." It reads:

"Dear Colleagues,

"I want to apologize to you for not doing a better job of handling the termination of our relationship with Juan Williams. While we stand firmly behind that decision, I regret that we did not take the time to better prepare our messaging and to provide you with the tools to cope with the fallout from this episode. As I’m telling our Member stations in a separate memo today, I also regret that this happened when the staff and volunteers of many stations were deeply engaged in pledge drives.

"This was a decision of principle, made to protect NPR’s integrity and values as a news organization. Juan's comments on Fox News last Monday were the latest in a series of deeply troubling incidents over several years. In each of those instances, he was contacted and the incident was discussed with him. He was explicitly and repeatedly asked to respect NPR's standards and to avoid expressing strong personal opinions on controversial subjects in public settings, as that is inconsistent with his role as an NPR news analyst. After this latest incident, we felt compelled to act.  I acknowledge that reasonable people can disagree about timing: whether NPR should have ended our relationship with Juan earlier, on the occasion of other incidents; or whether this final episode warranted immediate termination of his contract.

"In any event, the process that followed the decision was unfortunate — including not meeting with Juan in person — and I take full responsibility for that. We have already begun a thorough review of all aspects of our performance in this instance, a process that will continue in the coming days and weeks.

"The news and media world is changing swiftly and radically; traditional standards and practices are under siege. This requires us to redouble our attention to how we interpret and live up to our values and standards. We will also review and re-articulate our written ethics guidelines to make them as clear and relevant as possible for staff, Member stations and the public, and we will look for productive ways to include many of you in that endeavor.

"It was clear from Friday's all staff meeting that you have deep feelings about NPR’s culture, our commitment to diversity and how we communicate. I have deep feelings about those things too. We are working to tackle them, though clearly this latest incident has given them fresh urgency.

"In the meantime, I want to express confidence in NPR's  — in your! — integrity and dedication to the highest values in journalism, and our shared commitment to serving as a national forum for the respectful discussion of diverse ideas. They are why we will continue to earn the support of a growing audience.

"I stand by my decision to end NPR's relationship with Juan, but deeply regret the way I handled and explained it. You have my pledge that your executive team and I will reflect on all aspects of our actions, and strive to improve in the future.



soundoff (891 Responses)
  1. Clif Griffin

    Gave up on NPR a long time ago. Slickly produced but biased to the core. Add to that the guilt-trip pledge drives and . . .

    October 25, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  2. GoFaster58

    I wonder, is being regrettable like trying to cover up stupid?

    October 25, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • catfishjoe

      yes it is.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. Richard Lion

    Let really discuss the amount of funds NPR receives from us taxpayers.. $90 Million via PBS (that's the 2% they can't deny) HOWEVER – let's start looking at overhead – rent for most stations might be covered by the local PBS rent.. on air taxes are reduced well below what a "retail station" pays... supplies and equipment aren't taxed by local counties the way other radio stations are... the list goes on... To say the taxpayer only pays 2% is not even close to the whole truth.. Same as the news they air...

    October 25, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  4. Dadsnorz

    Juan was poopin a little too close to the house.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. brian d

    Whats the big freakin deal i hope ppl are this concerned if i ever get fired i think the guys a douce bag anyways

    October 25, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  6. kr

    What happened to freedom of speech?

    October 25, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Jonathan

      KR, he had freedom of speech. "Freedom of speech" simply means that the government cannot suppress your right to say what you want. He got to say what he wanted. But that doesn't mean freedom of speech without consequences. If you say something that runs contrary to the conduct expected by your employer, they absolutely have the right to fire you. You got to speak freely, but you have to accept the consequences of your actions.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  7. jeff hupp

    as a independent, and usually more left-leaning, even i am shake my head at NPR's recent move in firing juan williams. this guy has a right to say whatever he wants outside of NPR – and they don't have to like it. but firing him? give me break. NPR made an error in judgment, but more importantly, just reinforced my stereotyped views of their network: humorless, arrogant and snooty programming, intolerant of anyone who disagrees with their pedigreed positions.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. Matt

    Fox news pundits did not complain about the handling of the Rick Sanchez firing from CNN. Same situation. Double standard

    October 25, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dorkus Maximus

    The thing about Juan Williams' remark to Bill O'Reilly that gets me is how dumb it was. Did the terrorists of 9/11 board those planes wearing "Muslim dress"? Of course not. The whole point was to blend in. NPR was right to can the guy–he'd lost any objectivity and rationality he ever had and was well on his way to becoming as simple-minded and inflammatory as O'Reilly himself.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff

    It his were truly a 'decision of principle', Schiller would not be concerned about the effect it has had during pledge week. She had been waiting breathlessly for a reason to pull the trigger on Williams and gleefully jumped when she thought she had one without thinking of the consequences. The Schiller compounded her idiocy with her insensitive comments about Williams and a physciatrist. Her bungling of this whole thing illustrates that she does not have what it takes to be in charge of NPR. I also would like to note that Schiller worked at CNN before taking on NPR. Telling in of itself.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. kowa

    That witch should be fired for her totally liberal bias..

    October 25, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  12. the thinker

    He's paid to give opinions... and was told to "avoid expressing strong personal opinions". Who's opinion is he paid to give?
    What is NPR again? Nitwits Protesting Republicanism?

    October 25, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  13. Muffin

    Let's face it NPR was wrong and Fox News got an employee who isn't afraid to voice his opinion no matter how un-PC it appears. NPR just signed it's own death warrant. Good riddance!!!

    October 25, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  14. Tom from Clifton

    Ah, there was a fund drive and this affected it. Now we understand this note.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. mayo211

    guy was fired, happens everyday. moving on now...

    October 25, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
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