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. BamaNative

    Please write your Federal representatives ( both House and Senate) to voice your opinion on Federal funding of NPR. I, myself, have asked my representatives to vote to dramatically reduce or eliminate federal funding for NPR. It would better serve the interests of the country for NPR to directly draw it resources from the free market and not governmental assistence

    October 25, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jamin0

    For a station that claim it's funded mostly from member support (i.e. donations) I have not heard her consider the members opinion on the matter in any way. Has anyone tried to get the opinion from the private citizens who actually financially support NPR? If so I'm sure it will reveal the irony that NPR listeners/members share the same feelings as Juan.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jesse

    I wonder, how many times has Nina Totenberg offered her opinion on subject matters with no ill effects to her employee agreement with NPR? I like NPR. I love the weekend stuff and I love the news programming, but lets not sit aside and act like NPR has no political bias. I believe in getting my news from multipal sources; NPR, FoxNews, CNN, MSNBC, etc and making the decision for myself. We act like this is a new phenomenon in this country. Media outlets have always had a bias. Look to the days when WASP controlled the newspapers. Get your news and decipher for yourself, but everyone needs to stop acting like their preferred outlet is above the fray.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Satori

      Well said, indeed.

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

      Yes–they all have good news reporters and they all demonstrate bias and bigotry. It's part of being human. None stands above the others in all respects. And now we have some insights on Ms. Schiller's own bias and fears.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mark Atl

    Of course NPR is different. It is the last news outlet we have. FOX, CNN, MSNBC, talk radio – are not news broadcasts any longer...all they do is promote and create sensations with no meaning. Left or right it does not matter – they just are not news. NPR is the real news, and sure - being a truly news outlet seems like left to those who confuse right wing pundering for news – these people will always call true journalism biased unless they hear pundits who deliver comments and not the news.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Bingo! Conservatives who are calling for NPR's demise are working to take down their most deadly of all political enemies: truth in news reporting.

      The Fox News thugs would celebrate it specifically because they know it would help them politically to drown out ALL opposing views.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Claire

      From my perspective, Schiller fired Williams because he stated he fears someone who dresses like people who routinely blow innocent people up and who overtly seek to destroy America (even our "friends" chant "death to America" in their "moderate" public elementary schools) because she fears the backlash from those same individuals if she doesn't. Political correctness meets intimidation.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  5. Evan

    I'm in complete support of NPR. Unlike Fox, they are actually trying to run a NEWS organization and credibly report NEWS, which is something 99% of you people probably don't understand the definition of. If you're part of the one percent "in the know" congrats! Otherwise, just shutup and keep watching BS political punditry and bickering on MSNBC and Faux "News".

    October 25, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • the truth

      news is boring. I prefer "news"

      October 25, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Claire

      I've heard some of my favorite NPR newscasters spew bigotry on occasion (and also some on the current network). The fact is, Fox and all the others have both excellent newscasters and clever biased pundits who drive the ratings up and feed specific target audiences. Online, to get a wide viewpoint, checking the current network and foxnews gives much better insight because they squash or limit different stories and perspectives.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jim

    Maybe you should discuss it with Juan's psychiatrist. Who is the "we" you refer too in the article. Tell us who really made the decision. With the double standard in reporting that you espouse when it comes to non-liberals, I find the word "integrity" coming from your lips to be vulgar. You have done NPR, muslims, and the left a tremendous diservice. It was clearly you and not Juan who could not remain neuttal on the issues.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Some of these responders need to call their proctologist to see if their head has been found.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      You have no idea what you are taking about, and obviously did not read the letter before vomiting a reply. "We" is obviously a reference to the executive staff. Vivian is neither vulgar nor stupid. Juan Williams had a very specific job on NPR – analyzing current events. He was warned multiple times. Note that he is now going to be paid WAY more money than before. Hmm...planned, I think?

      October 25, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Colt45

      I think you are right on!

      October 25, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Thomas Bodetti

    Amazing how they can be sorry for not firing the guy the "right" way, but they cant be sorry for subjugating, his rights as a man to have an opinion, if NPR had paid Juan to appear on Fox news, then they might have a reason to be upset, but they did not pay him, no this woman needs to be fired, she is obviously incompetent,

    October 25, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Great post, could not agree any more with you!

      October 25, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Did you read the article? The whole point of a news analyst is to not have an opinion. It amazes me how people have opinions blindly based on nothing but "feelings."

      October 25, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • thunder

      Josh, the only problem with your rant is this. We have all seen the opinions and insults thrown out by N P R at other views. So which is it going to be, free speech for all, or just those that back your view??

      October 25, 2010 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Rights and Lefts

      Juan indeed had every "right" to voice his opinion. And by the same token, NPR had every right to terminate an employment contract. This isn't about rights, it has nothing to do with rights. It goes to journalistic integrity, a concept foreign to most at Fox along with their hard-core viewers.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      This is standard journalistic practice, journalists from most major news sources aren't even allowed to donate to political parties. As has been repeated many times Williams is a news analyst not a commentator. If Brian Williams, etc had been caught on the record stating a viewpoint on a controversial topic he would be fired too.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • SpecialPlace

      I agree with you 100%! If NPR was paying the man, then I can understand firing him. However, he was not working when he went on to FOX News. He was not on the clock for NPR. So, if he was not on the clock, at work, then what right does NPR have to tell him how to act?? This was horrible integrity shown by NPR, and I will not listen to the network anymore after this incident. I am baffled that the CEO would be so far-left as to get angry over something so silly as honesty.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      AAAGH...so it's jFINE to ABRIDGE SOMEONES FREEDOM OF SPEECH by FIRING THEM if they have OPINIONS different than the BOSS (private donor George Soros)? At least the fact that NPR is a COMPROMISED news and opinion source FOR SALE is no longer news!! NPR is a PUBLIC TRUST not a PRIVATE CORPORATION you freaking LIBERALS!!

      October 25, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • A. Goodwin

      Steve – that's a bunch of BS. NPR gets LESS than 10% from federally funded GRANTS. You know – the kind you need to apply for...the kind that OTHER news agencies have to apply for and receive. You make it seem like they get all funding by the govt. and that is inherently WRONG. Juan violated NPR's ethics policy – plain and simple. I work for a company (engineering) who I too have to live by an ethics policy – I violate it, I get fired. He was not talking to friends having a casual conversation...he was on Fox news – moonlighting – and giving an opinion that he should have kept to himself. This has nothing to do with being a liberal or conservative or elitist...it has to do with an individual breaking his contract with his employer – PLAIN AND SIMPLE.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      Cant you see where you are wrong? When you work for a company you CANNOT just go around voicing your opinions. This will lead to people walking up to their boss and saying something rude, getting fired, and then suing the company for not having freedom of speech. How rediculous would that be? NPR does not and should not condone bigotry, and his statement about muslims was inapropriate. What if he said Black people make him nervous on airplanes?" Think about it.

      October 25, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jason Garcia

    Vivian continues to justified this injustice by repeating the mantra that Jaun's statement is one of many.

    if that is true...prove it. What were his other violations?

    Vivian needs to go...she is an embarrassment!

    October 25, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Frame

      There are hundreds of examples that came out over the weekend of additional NPR "reporters" offering their opinion on many, many topics. Check the blogs and you will see that Miss Vivian is a hypocrite.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  9. danny

    This women sure changed her tune whenever the threat of the government withholding her taxpayers money came out. The newsmen should have know that it was against all liberql principles to say anything negative about any democrat regardless of the crime that was committed.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      The fed gov only provides 2% of their funding. George Soros on the other hand provides A LOT MORE. Go figure...

      October 25, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Frame

      "She's a wh*re!" shouted Jerry Brown of California as he wiped the taco sauce from his chin.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. winger27

    I listen to NPR all the time. It's my favorite station, but I have doubts about this firing. I was never a big fan of Juan, so I'm not too upset either way.. but if you want to get rid of him, then you should also probalby get rid of Diane Rehm as well. She's about as opinionted as you get, and is actually extremely rude to those with different opinions on her show. at least Juan's comments were not actually ON NPR... Like I said, I truly enjoy listening to NPR, and I thin America needs NPR, but come one, this is a little much. I think he was just voicing the opinion of a lot of people.. and before you ask, no, I don't feel the way he feels. If I get nervous about someone on a plain or train or something, it's usually because of the way they are behaving, not how they are dressed... I think you all know what I mean. Sometimes you can just look at someone and how they are acting and you get this vibe that maybe that person is someone worth watching out for. I think that is how the TSA people are taught to watch passengers boarding planes, but their behavior/actions. I probably was not the smartest thing to say, and it did sound bigoted, but hey, it wasn't the worst thing I've heard on that subject.. just more blah blah and fear...

    October 25, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • winger27

      oops.. opinionated... my bad

      October 25, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • winger27

      crap!!! and PLANE not plain.. man, I need some coffee!!

      October 25, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • LauraJ

      I'm glad someone else thinks Diane is rude with people she doesnt agree with! Its actually to the point I am strating to turn her off when the topic has to do with Muslims or Terror – she cant hold a civil conversation about either. But maybe this is the problem – NPR should hire 2 moderatre American Muslims to have a show on the topic itself – I would ilsten, espeically if they didnt shut poeple down and addressed all subjects.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Malv the Great

      As a long time NPR listener. If they are going to fire someone for expressing opinions they have plenty of staff to look at.
      As an INDEPENDENT; the left just keeps shoving me farther away. You Democrats get elected, and you start acting like ...HEY look at ME... I"M GREAT!! I did this all by myself! I'm going to govern as if no other viewpoint exists. Well NEWSFLASH this country is pretty evenly divided...It is which side INDEPENDENTS swing toward that got you elected. Now that the left has gone out into left field; guess what? I'm not with you!

      This woman needs demoted or fired and not a red cent of my money has any business supporting this organization time to write me REPS and raise hell!

      October 25, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Diane Rhem is not a news analyst for NPR. She is an on-air personality, and is thus allowed to issue an opinion (I assume). In fact, if you look at NPR's website, they include an "opinion" section.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Malv the Great

    This woman needs to hit thew unemployment line.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  12. Tim

    It's funny how a black guy can say this about a muslim and get an apology. If a white guy said this about a black guy on a plane, he'd have the book thrown at him. Racism is racism, I'm not giving this guy a free pass because he's black. He has lost all credibility in my eyes. Think about it "I turned around and saw 2 black guys who self identified as black and it made me feel uneasy" What would a civil rights author, like this bozo, have to say about a comment like that.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • TCP

      Islam is not a race...

      October 25, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Racism, prejudice. Insert whatever word you want to, but don't deflect the issue. It makes you look very small.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • TerriL

      Very true and while Islam is a religion, not race, it IS the exact same king of bigotry.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Amercaneedsrealists

      Race or religion, it does not matter. The problem with islam is how they view and treat women. You might feel differently if you opened your mind and tried to view this through my wife and daughters eyes. Women are not second class citizens.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • John F

      It's more of a "Why are my tax dollars supporting this?!?" - It's okay for staff members to say that they hope that Jesse Helms' family members all die of AIDS but somehow Williams' comments are somehow beyond the pale.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • CMK

      Of course if a white guy said it about a black guy he'd get fired because black guys don't blow up planes and buildings in the name of "Blackness". Muslims, on the other hand DO blow up planes and buildings in the name of Islam. Therefore it is reasonable and appropriate to sense some fear and trepidation about getting on a plane with men in Muslim garb. Apples to Oranges my friend.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • CypressSteve

      Tim, with all due respect, Islam is a belief system that one has CHOSEN to adopt. No one gets to choose their race, last time I checked. If you modified your statement to "If I saw a group of men who self-identified as Black Panthers standing with billy clubs, I would be uneasy," then it would be a valid comparison. Juan did nothing more than express his fears, not his opinion. In fact, he went out of his way to point out that no one should paint all followers of Islam with the broad brush of bigotry, that only a small fracton of followers advocated violence, etc.

      It will be next to impossible to have a reasoned discussion on bigotry if attempts are made to slam anyone who attempts to express feeling OR opinion. Can we not let people express themselves, then deal with the feelings openly and honestly? Juan is obviously a good man who wants to have a discussion with other people of good will. Why stifle that? What call him names and attempt to sideline him? Such behavior surely will not lead to a positive outcome.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Curtis

    I think the reason so many republicans take issue with Williams' firing is because they're FOX viewers...where conservatives get their schooling on journalism. Fair and balanced my as$.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • K from AZ

      Curtis, please show me one 'conservative' commentator on any liberal station. The undefinable air of stupidity exuding from your comments is truely amazing.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Kristina

      Hi Curtis – I am an independent who votes for the GOP more than 50% of the time (socially liberal, fiscally conservative) and I do listen to NPR, but I also listen to Fox, Fox Business, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, BBC. When I was in my 20's and a liberal Democrat, I used to think that only my ideology was "correct" and the conservative side of the spectrum encapsulated everything evil in the world. That's the problem with ideologies. A straight diet of NPR will lead to some heavily skewed thinking. Variety is the key.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • thunder

      Oh please!, I have heard more crap out of liberals, attacking anyone, and everyone that doesn't share their point of view. And willians got fired for this.That double standard is starting to show again.And you people actually wonder why things are going so bad for your party.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Dudgie

      A conservative comentator on NPR: David Brooks.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. See Novak

    She apologized to NPR, NOT Juan WIlliams. Typical cold-blooded elitist. Loves animals, can't stand people.....

    October 25, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Riley

      She is the one who needs to be fired!!!

      October 25, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • little red hen

      You are quite right. 'Vivian' has not improved the status or respectability of women in upper level management with such a stupid move. To 'fire' an employee, especially a high-profile BLACK man without having a face-to-face meeting? What '30 Second Manager' seminar did THAT come from?
      Frankly I don't think that most people CARE about Juan's race but ARE concerned with the way in which his rights to speak HIS opinion as a guest on a rival network were stomped down. If it can happen to him, it can happen to ANYONE.
      I hope that Juan sues NPR and Ms. Vivian for violation of his civil rights. You don't give them up just because you go to work for someone.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  15. K from AZ

    NPR and it's local stations can forget about any donations from now on out. FINI!!!!! I don't support Dr. Goebels or his minions, classical music or not!

    October 25, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • eagerone

      I inadvertenly hit the report abuse button. I happen to agree with your comments.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
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