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.

"Respectfully,

"Vivian"

soundoff (891 Responses)
  1. Alan

    Vivian sounds like Obama. My decisions were not wrong I just did not do a good job in delivery.

    She should resign, now. We still have two more years before we can fire Obama for his incompetency.

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

      You are a complete and utter MORON.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sidney Brewster

    Vivian is so much at conflict with issuing this letter that she really shouldn't have issued it. The main point here is that protocol was not followed in firing Juan.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ellie

    Juan Williams was simply expressing what he felt. He actually went on to make the point that people shouldn't be judged and put into categories. He didn't say his feelings were wrong or right. It was not an opinion it's how he felt. I can tell you know plenty of people who feel the same way. It's not out of hatred but out of fear. It's only natural.

    NPR was wrong to fire him. There's no question about that. Anyone who criticizes Juan for having said feelings is a hypocrite pure and simple. We all profile to some degree but it's how we act on our feelings that's most important.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • frogger626

      If a member of Amnesty International went on Fox and said that he supported slavery, would they be right in letting him go?
      Also, "It's not an opinion- it's how he felt"- How you feel is a textbook definition of an opinion. It is a fact that he feels like that, but what he feels is his opinion.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Curtis

      Juan Williams opened his big mouth when he should have kept it shut. Eversee Brian Williams doing something like that? Think about it.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • baltimoreJoe

      "he went on to say..." Unfortunately Ellie we're all dreaming if we expect Americans to go on and read/listen to the 'rest of the story'. Huffington post and others aren't going to blog or post it and that's good enough for the left. I can't wait for gas to be $9 gallon like their prez wants. I'll be buying all the flat screen tv's, mowers, etc. they're selling as they fight to simply get to work. They are on a self-destructive path and best for us to just get off the tracks and watch the wreck.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  4. Barrie

    This is absolutely astounding! Liberals try to portray conservatives as intolerant and bigoted, yet the fire their own employee for daring to express an opinion that doesn't fit their politically correct mindset! These people are dolts of the first water!

    October 25, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. Satori

    Perhaps I've missed it, but why is no one pointing out the abject hypocrisy of NPR in its firing of Williams ostensibly for expressing opinions about controversial subjects? Such firebrand Progressives as Cokie Robers, Daniel Shorr, and Nina Totenburg routinely do (or did) spout highly offensive remarks in the direction of Republicans, conservatives, and anyone not signed onto the NRP agenda. Juan's firing isn't about being controversial – – it's about violating the NPR Progressive Creed and tipping the Politically Correct canoe. I will take great glee in seeing NPR investigated and defunded by the next Congress.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mike

    Both Juan Williams and NPR are getting TONS of publicity from this, money is rolling in from people being polarized (it doesn't really matter what side you take or why, just that you take a side), and you all are miscegenations of lemmings and hillbillys.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jay

    Oh look, folks who have never donated to NRP will withhold their donations again. 😀 And FYI most of NPRs funding comes from private donations. As a matter of fact 98%. Also, NPR is not affiliated with PBS. Two different beasties.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  8. steve

    To deny that NPR leans way to the left would be like denying Fox News leans way to the right. The firing of Juan Williams is simply a case of political correctness overtaking common sense.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  9. John

    Will – name calling does not make for an effective argument. Did you think her news conference was one conducted professionally? Why should tax payers fund media outlets? Make an argument.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  10. TJC

    It is fascinating how blind journalists can be to their own bias, especially those on the left. I think that we are blind to our own bias's because none of believes that we are biased! FOX News ran a clip yesterday on recent wildly-leftist OPINIONS by other NPR analysts; of course none of them have been publicly fired.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jerry

    No lame/stupid excuses accepted from NPR. Just take their federal funding away. And, America, just like the NAACP, these two organizations are just President NObama fronts.

    Again, America just stop their funding/contributions. Something is amiss here, though. Juan Williams has always defended President NObama moronic policies. I have yet to hear a "peep" from him, or for that matter, from the so called Black organizations, in support of Mr. Williams. And of course, I am not going to hold my breath!

    Juan Williams, best wishes to you and your family!

    October 25, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  12. David James

    If a wasp lands on you, do you wait for it to sting? or swat it off?

    October 25, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  13. baltimoreJoe

    NPR should fess up – "We're here to represent programing that couldn't make it in the marketplace otherwise". Liberal employees have said that Bush/Rove and others should get Aids for instance, and that wasn't cause. I agree employers should be able to fire employees as mentioned in early posts and also that the majority of Americans should not have to fund a network so out of whack with our views and working against us. Their bumbling CEO has apologized 3 times already, she should resign.
    .

    October 25, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  14. Robert W.

    Translation: I got caught being biased. Sorry I wasn't more sneaky at firing him.

    "to avoid expressing strong personal opinions on controversial subjects in public settings" (unless we agree with those opinions expressed).
    "our commitment to diversity and how we communicate" (As long as the diversity and opinion is politically correct and we agree with it).

    October 25, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jack in Raleigh

    I will continue to listen to "Car Talk" – the one NPR program that is fair, balanced, useful and fun to which to listen.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
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