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. Racher

    I am glad you have shown your true colors in firing Juan. In response I will stop all donations to NPR. I will request all public funding be cut. I regret the way you have stifled free speech. Hopefully you will be replaced with more competent management.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sherman

    I guess they think that covers it, nope. – I am beginning to feel the left took the idealism of an entire generation and betrayed it. And Nixon poisoned the GOP for a long time, its time for a new party – one that isn't tied up and tied to.
    Tea anyone?

    October 25, 2010 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      No thanks try the Coffee party instead.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. Nelbrin


    October 25, 2010 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  4. Al

    "Hard left line", please. NPR bends over backwards to try to be as balanced as possible, but they get branded as left-wing because the so-called "middle" has been creeping rightward for the last 30 years.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  5. Monte

    Typical liberal .. Took action, screwed up, see's there mistake but sticks by it no matter what. what is really crazy is that it is ok for a liberal to sprew negative comments about oil drilling, smokers, drinkers, patriots, etc. but whoa .. don't make a negative comment about something they think is right. "Your Fired" !

    October 25, 2010 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. cregis

    I'm pretty liberal and like NPR but I agree with Juan Williams. Sorry Juan I won't be watching you on Fox because I hate that network except for Shepard Smith. I know Fox is crying about my not watching, anyway, I'm sick of all the tiptoeing around Muslims

    October 25, 2010 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Fox isn't so bad to watch, just turn down the volume. All their on air talent (male and female) all look pretty good.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  7. Tim

    In case the rest of you hadn't noticed, Will is trolling. Ignore his ignorant comments.. as that's all they are.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  8. DSinMI

    Did anyone think of expressing the same to Juan? It is quite easy to apologize to others for how something is handled on a personal level, it takes dignity to do the same in person to that individual.

    Sorry Vivian, I'm not impressed.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  9. Bryan C.

    NPR has received it's last contribution from me. What a load of horse dung! Vivian Schiller should be fired. She does NOT possess the skills necessary for leadership.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. Dave

    That was an apology??? She apologized for everything except what she should have regretted. Getting rid of the best journalist they had.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mary

    I will never tune in to NPR again, this makes me sick. Vivian needs to move on in her career to a ANOTHER McCarthyism EMBRACING organization.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      NPR McCarthyism??? You do realize that McCarthy was a Republican right wing anti communist who saw a communist under every bed and would have been more at on on fox rather than NPR, right?

      October 25, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. ts

    So, when was the last time you heard an analyst not have an opinion?

    News Analyst are now by NPR definition –will not have an opinion. Me think that might be... interesting to watch this spaceship land.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. weekem

    The NPR CEO reacted in haste and did not think the process out clearly. Mr. Williams should have been accorded the courtesy of being fired face to face. The way it happened was very unprofessional. Also the CEO made some remarks that made it sound more personal than professional. There is a lesson to be learned from this debacle. Think things through before you react and speak. Hopefully NPR has learned from this incident.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  14. VCMD

    Shouldn't a CEO be fired if she does not know how to handle the firing of 10 year old senior journalist who aired his personal feelings during an interview on another channel? And then she questioned his sanity? She looks much more bigoted to me then the person fired? If NPR has any objectivity left, they should fire this bigoted CEO with lot of hot air!

    October 25, 2010 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. tad

    This dude was a sellout to faux news! Anyone willing to work for faux has no interest in being a true journalist. Therefore he had to go...it's that simple.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • BILL

      He was working at Fox when they hired Him.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Jackie

      Holding my breath, waiting patiently for the NAACP to comment either way. Hmmm.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
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