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. tom lobenstein

    Now isn't Vivian Schiller's apology just so special. She needs to fire herself because she is incompetent when comes to personnel management issues. Isn't that quality an ultimate responsiblity of top management?

    one ultimate responsibi

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

    bottom line: williams was right, it does make me nervous to see them on my plane. It was his opinion, he wasn't telling you to believe that way.

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

    I have to tell you. I have seen more screws in the business world made by women. I have no problem with women they do a great job. How ever with that being said I have worked with many and they have no business being charge. Women have made some of the stupidest business decisions and then afterwards they say O I was wrong I never should have done that. Maybe they should think before they do stupid things. God Forbid even we used our brains first and then engaged our mouths.

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

    None can do a non-apology better than a liberal. I'll make no more donations to NPR (I've enough mugs, anyway). I'll sent that $100 to the Republican candidates in my state. Thanks for helping me decide, Vivian.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Ynot51

      Dean ,you are the man.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  5. jr

    Over thirty-five years ago I began listening to "All Things Considered" and "The News Hour". But, gradually the bent toward liberalism and the championing of liberal causes no longer suited my moderate independent beliefs. So, I have not watched or listened for six or seven years. The dumping of Bob Edwards did not help either.

    Where was Vivian while Bill Moyers was holding forth. He was blatantly anti conservitive. I'm not sure he ever met a Republican he didn't want to bash. So Vivian, where were you then?

    October 25, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  6. cinge

    I consider myself liberal and am a lifelong Democrat. I have become increasingly alarmed at NPR's biased reporting on the situation in the Middle East, most specifically the Israeli/Palestinian issues. For this woman to claim her agency is so dedicated to reporting the facts of both sides of an issue, to support the Palestinians so thoroughly and completely goes totally against this philosophy. But once again, Israel is being held to a different standard where the media is concerned. My faith and support of NPR has been steadily waning.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. Nicholas

    Stupidity and a lack of respect for each other has not been cornered by anyone of any race. Stupid is universal

    October 25, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. David

    I'm a moderate Democrat, I enjoy NPR sometimes, but for christsakes is this woman a good example of why Democrats lose elections.

    Pompous liberal fascism is not exactly a good way of rallying support to your cause.

    The ultimate revolution in this country will be lead by a pragmatic populist academic. We are in desperate need of talented, informed leaders who aren't annoyingly self-righteous. Just a normal dude, or dude-ette.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. Ed

    I'm politically independent and I like both FNC and NPR. However, just as FNC has an overt conservative streak, NPR has a well-known liberal streak. Apparently there is a problem with Juan Williams saying he gets nervous when he sees people in Muslim garb, but no problem at at when the late Daniel Schorr referred to then President-elect Obama as "...the god who descends at the critical moment to sweep all our troubles away."

    October 25, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jake


    October 25, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  11. cjl

    Sweet. Thanks NPR. Juan Williams = martyr for free speech thanks to the left.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mike

    Cut funding to Npr ASAP. I don't agree with what he said. But he has the right to say it with out fear of getting fired.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  13. InReality

    What she means to say is, "I'm sorry I have irreparably harmed the NPR brand with my Nazi-like censorship behavior. Therefore, I intend to step down so a leader can assume my position and begin repairing the damaged brand." These _______ executives are becoming a REAL PROBLEM in America. KEEP AN EYE ON ALL OF THEM. That is my opinion.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  14. Shawn

    Pretty funny. If Juan was white I doubt the CEO would of been sorry.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  15. LILLIE

    She should be fired!

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