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. Joel Lanier

    Well, NPR CEO Vivian Schiller, Juan Williams (in your opinion) made a mistake and was fired. You don't get a bye either.
    LIke you indicate, one must be responsible for their mistakes. I assume .... you are responsible? If so, then step down.... if you are not responsible, you should be relieved of duy. In either case, you should go.

    As for Juan, I will watch him on Fox News. I may not always agree with him, but I respect him. You apparently don't.

    If you don't go, then maybe it is time for public funding of NPR to go.


    October 25, 2010 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    We live in a country where the employers have the right to discharge anyone, anytime for basically any reason. That's why it is called an 'At will' policy. Juan was told to refrain himself but couldn't and consquently lost his job. I am held by the same 'rules' at my job. Glad he was fired for not listening to his employer. Maybe he will do better next time.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  3. P10

    billionaire liberal icon George Soros has donated $1.8 million to hire 100 new reporters for 50 of its member stations.

    The money will go to launch a project called Impact of Government, which Soros' Open Society Foundation says will "bring greater transparency and accountability to the workings of state capitals across the country."

    The group, which describes its mission as building "tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens," calls it a response to the decline in news coverage of state legislatures.

    "A strong democracy requires a diverse, independent, and highly functioning watchdog press to help people hold the government and private sector accountable," Ann Beeson, executive director of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Foundations, said in a statement earlier this week.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • P10

      This is the latest news on NPR.........

      It is NOT a public minded company..

      Billionaire whacko is going to use it to be BIGGER BROTHER....gonna WATCH the Govt!


      Take your EGO and rot!

      October 25, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jeff

    Bullpoopy. This is too little, too late, and sending it out on an email makes it look all the more disingenuous. NPR is now known as a media organization that punishes free speech rather than supporting it. Vivian Schiller has done irreparable harm to NPR's reputation and the only way to fix it now is for her to make a public apology IN PERSON and submit her resignation. I doubt she is enough of a team player to make that sacrifice for the good NPR.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  5. jason sebo

    the guy is bigot and A hole let him go to fox 90% of black pepole hate him .

    fox will welcome him because they are bigots like him

    October 25, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  6. LauraJ

    Vivian Schiller should show her sorrow and resign. Since I am sure she wont, please, write and demand her resignation to:
    Howard Stevenson, Chairman of the Board (her boss)
    635 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20001

    October 25, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  7. Displacedmic

    Reading through these discussions forums, carefully listening to all the debate surrounding this topic and looking at both sides of the argument I have come to what I believe to be the well thought-out conclusion that everybody in this country is an idiot.

    Sorry guys, it happened. We're all morons. This is a NON issue. WGAF?

    October 25, 2010 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mathew

    I enjoy listening to NPR precisely because they DO make the attempt to present both sizes of any discussion, in a polite and non-confrontational manner. It would be great to have all news organizations return to an attempt at being "objective" (recognizing that it is impossible to be completely objective.)

    I would hope that NPR would apply the same standards to a commentator expressing a "liberal" viewpoint during some interview. News organizations that sneer at either conservative or liberal ideas are not delivering news–they become "entertainment."

    October 25, 2010 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. Bill

    CNN mentions that Fox assailed NPR, but conveniently ignore that both right and left have criticized NPR (such as Barbara Walters).

    October 25, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  10. Greg

    Isn't it amazing how the so-called intellect, revert to personal attacks rather than taking issue with one's stance. They would rather do character assassination rather than confront or debate issue generally because they are weak on substance and would rather revert to intellectual masturbation. As for the issue at hand, I would say that the firing of NPR is a perfect example of why it should be defunded.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  11. ytrewq

    NPR CEO Vivian Schiller, she admited that NPR made is personal after firing him, this outting is a public disgarace, she should be fired, why is no one calling for her head, NOW. Evil racist person, congress where are you, we need a immediate review, and call for her resignation today.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  12. Phyllis North

    I think this woman better start looking for a new job.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  13. NMGliderPilot

    It's time for the grass roots to rise up and speak out against NPR. It is a socialistic media that has no business with ANY funding from the American taxpayer. IF it can survive by donation, then let it. After this episode I think their funding will suffer greatly, as more American's will wake up to the elitist mentality of the management. IN ANY MEANS, taxpayer funding should be revoked – we should not have to support socialist programs in our great republic!

    October 25, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. Kevin

    Am I reading this right? Public broadcasting telling employees that they have no right to a personal opinion? Or that the right of free speech is denied them? Or is it only opinions that do not match those of the NPR hierarchy? I stopped giving to public broadcasting several years ago over my perception of bias. Now that it is out in the open, it is time that government support should end, as well.

    October 25, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Cog In The Wheel

      I work for a huge company, and am repeatedly warned to avoid associating my employer with any personal opinions I might express, online or elsewhere. It's OK for me to HAVE a personal opinion, but the company doesn't want my opinions to represent the corporation; if that happens, I can be fired (not making this up.) That's the same issue here; Mr. Williams was invited precisely because of his association with NPR. He became the news, instead of being the messenger of the news.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rock God

    Who wants a bigoted Fox News "analyst" on NPR? Someone should tell Juan that none of the 9/11 hijackers were in "Muslim garb." What an idiot.

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