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. Nahom

    I am not a conservative according the conservatives and I am not a liberal according the liberals and I am not an independent according to the independent even though being independent was exactly being that . . . well whatever side you are on that is all you are a follower to the punditry and to what the news cycle brings. He was fired because they did not like him working for FOX and they used this issue as a reason. An educated person of his caliber should not be making statement about a group of people in such a way. He gets no respect from me neither do MPR and FOX.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. Michael

    Incredible and ridiculous that firing a bigot for disgusting and irresponsible comments in a public forum should be grounds for apology.
    FOX has helped turn our country into an embarassing right-wing extremist farce of America. God help us to regain sanity.

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

      Do you accept a religion that does not give women the same rights as men. All of you out there defending Islam need to know what they do to women and how they are viewed.. Not the peace loving calm religion we are fed by the likes of NPR.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JB

    What shocks me the most at the moment is the fact that NPR is the front page news. Now, welcome to Car Talk.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. db

    I sure would expect to hear that NPR is sorry about the way they handled the Juan Williams firing as they are looking at a Congressional cut in their funding. One would think that by now upper management would have learned that they do no know how to terminate a person, it must be handled through HR. When upper management starts dealing with individual people they always fail as they are not trained on how to effectively and accurately handle those situations. Boo hoo I say to NPR, who needs or listens to them anyway?

    October 25, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  5. Ralph

    Boycott NPR. Do not contribute to their left wing bias. Fire Vivian Schiller.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  6. Randall

    The continual erosion of free speech to quell unrest in the minority of American.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jerry

    This is a good mea culpa. A very strong letter. At the end of the day, NPR did the correct thing in firing him. Juan Williams was becoming less of an objective reporter and more of an opinionated, talking head appearing on other networks.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  8. Winch

    Keyanna – bigots never see bigotry.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  9. Joe, San Diego

    Black man profiling muslims... Juan Williams may thought he should express his thoughts about muslim attire on airplanes- govern your actions and know what words you are using.
    Thee proverbial phrase: don't judge a book by its cover comes to mind.
    So Juan Williams you too will be judged by your clothing!

    October 25, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  10. Proton

    In large part, the truly disappointing aspect of NPR’s action have been the sense of betrayal of a key value. NPR has tried to portray it’s self as “a cut above” the rest of broadcast media, by providing the depth of analysis, tolerance to diversity of views, and honesty, on issues that allow us to make informed decisions. I’ve listened, and contributed to, NPR for many years. However, with the firing of Mr. Williams, on such flimsy grounds, and in such a shabby manner, I feel NPR is nothing more than a marketing gimmick, and no different from other “commercial” stations it tries to stand apart from. Therefore, I no longer feel NPR has the critical credibility I need from news and information sources. Consequently, I will no longer provide my listenership, or money, to NPR in the future.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  11. abbyfl

    Even though I do not agree with Juan Williams' opinions, the way that NPR handled the firing was very distasteful. I think that the NPR CEO should be disciplined or terminated for some of the comments that she made public regarding his termination.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  12. JT

    How in the world is this lady still CEO? No matter your feelings on Juan anyone that has spent 5 min in college would have know and perhaps even grade school you dont fire someone in such a public and destructive way. The CEO of NPR needs to step down today and all tax funding should end as its not needed these days. Tax funding has nothing to do with Juan or the crazy NPR CEO but in days of cutting back this is a waste of money.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  13. John

    NPR regrets? What a lame half-ass apology. Just goes to show that liberals believe in free speech, as it long it coincides with what they believe.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  14. The Rest of the Story

    What kills me is that everyone post 9-11 feels anxiety with the traditional Muslim Garb and also the Prayers that are chanted prior to boarding. Juan took it further by stating becuase of that normal human association, we need to be very careful about generalizing Muslims in one category. This CEO language about "standards" confirms that the one that should be fired is the CEO who does need a Phsychiatrist AND Publicist right now!!

    October 25, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  15. Terry - Indiana

    It will be hard to hire him back, the Fox deal is really good. Fox needed a Liberal to wave in front of the public, and Williams is smart enough to understand that money talks and BS walks.

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