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. Rob Jones

    Censorship at it's most blatant. I thought NPR was liberal? Seems they would endorse free speech. Jerks.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. WVLady47

    Ah, yes, shutting the proverbial "barn door" after the horse is long gone. She was wrong and she did wrong! "Freedom of Speech" should NOT be only for the people who pay your salary! Being politically correct is the downfall of "Freedom of Speech." Juan Williams spoke the truth and probably at least 75% of Americans feel the same way he does about muslims. I would wager that NPR's CEO voices the same thing, albeit behind closed doors! If we don't start standing up for "Freedom of Speech," it will disappear just as rights for Americans in our own country!

    October 25, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ZOOMER165

    the Muslums in this country are as bad as the illegal mexicans. they think we owe them everything...

    October 25, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Keith Adkins

    It is wrong when Juan Williams does it...but if Cokie Roberts or the late Daniel Schorr voices their opinion...it is OK!!! Pure double standard. I was an avid NPR listener and PBS viewer. NO MORE!!!!!

    October 25, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paqrat137

      Dan Schorr and Cokie Roberts, and many others of the NPR broadcasters clearly label their opinions in their commentaries, much in the way of the editorial page of a newspaper. I do have a problem with the Williams firing. As an NPR supporter, I never knew he was on Fox News, as I never listened or watched it. So, if I had my head in the sand, and did not waste my time with Fox News, I found Williams pieces very good listening. But, if company policy is that you must appear to be objective in your words and deed when you work for NPR (and other businesses have their rules) then unfortunately Williams did not follow the policy and he was gone. I won't give up listening to NPR, but I am sure there could have been a better way to handle the situations

      October 25, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DB

    Juan Williams was about – "I dont like Muslims when I can identify them." That is bigotry. He cant be serious when he thinks those Islamic garb at airport are a threat to security in the plane. If anything, the one who harm take extreme measures to blend in. He knew that. Maybe he just sucked up to Beck to get $2M contract.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. otto1967

    I'm anti-Republican, but I am also vehemently anti-political correctness run amok. This sweeping censorship and trouncing of free speech has got to stop. The left wing is to blame for this, as much as it pains me to say it. This isn't Stalinist Russia. People are supposed to be free to express their opinions in this country, whether you like the opinion or not.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doug

      You are anti-republican yet all the stuff you say you are against are what Democrats stand for and the only way to counter it in America today is to vote Republican.

      Go ahead talk about the religious right extremists, but they are no worse and no greater a percentage of the right than the code pink bearded marxist types are on the left.

      Please watch the Soprano state for an example of what complete Democrat rule leads to. There are some videos on youtube that show the reality of life for poor people in our inner cities who have been under complete Democrat rule for 4 decades as well.

      If you support free speech and ideological freedom for all Americans regardless of their skin color, then you must vote Republican.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • DB

      Free speech is protection from criminal prosecution, but not from discharge from workplace. You cant call supervisor some nasty names and expect to hold the job.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • unknown

      You are against a lot. Kind of negative. Seems like you are against things just because you think that is the way you are supposed to think. Take self stock and realize what you really are.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. LarryO

    I withdraw any further personal financial support for NPR!

    October 25, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • e.m.

      Thank you.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      I'm sure they will miss whatever empty promises you made them.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Hugh Broket

    Let the listeners pay for NPR not partly by taxpayers. In the same why they fired Juan, we need to stop their funding, so please someone in the government give them a call to let them know now. Although I may have not always agreed with Juan, I always enjoy listening to his views and they help me think and come to better conclusions. NPR needs to remember the tears in Juan's eyes when his belief in NPR was destroyed and his creditability damaged. Then look in the mirror when we cut your funding. In this day and age we don't need to fund NPR.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Doug

    NPR wanted a reason to fire Juan Williams, he represents old school democrat tolerance and respect for different opinions.

    Juan never looked down on those who had views that were in contradiction with the Soros elitist NPR type snobs.

    I'm pro choice, pro gay marriage, and for decriminalizing drug abuse. However I would never wish death to my fellow Americans who disagree with me. I don't look down on or hate people who disagree with me either. The Democrat party has no place for me, like Juan Williams and Alan Colmes, I don't hate first and let others tell me what I'm supposed to think. A majority of Dems wish death to Glen Beck and have never once watched him or listened to him. Their mind masters say he is evil and that is good enough for them.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Amazed

    Hey let Soros fund NPR in the future, and because I won't be giving any money to them or member stations. It is fine to disagree with a persons personal comment, but to fire someone over that is way over the top. Freedom of speech is getting lost in this country, and organizations like NPR are doing nothing but brainwashing people to their style of news,
    Repeat after me, must be PC must be PC must be PC must be PC must be PC.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Boborino

    Missed the point again. How can u profess to be a reputable organization when you condone actions for years and then knee jerk react to a single incident. This is an action that is usually accompanied by an unknown behind the scenes applying pressure. So, who is the one or ones that forced her hand to fire him and why now? Who has the "behind the closed door" influence. And what will be the fallout. Will she become the scapegoat? I hope not. NPR and it's organizational structure needs to go. A "National Public" station should be apolitical. Educational. Above the fray. This station is not that. The government should not be funding it. Both liberals and conservatives should be calling for it to be privatized. If the liberals can not see the precedent here, they are blind. Do they want a "NPTV" spewing conservative views with government funding? Could this happen if the Republicans gain control?

    October 25, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jay

    So her stating her opinion that williams needs a pychiatrist is okay and not hurtful. She's saying all of us who fear extremists muslims who kill us because were infidels are crazy people. She needs to go see a pychiatrist about her desperate need to control and manipulate.she is way too immature by that comment to be in charge of the volunteers at a community garage sale in kentucky little own being an executive of NPR.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bduce

    I always though NPR was lame and boring and rarely if ever listened to the program. This firing simply vindicates my feelings. I wish my tax money wasn't paying for this assemblage of "news" people who couldn't get a job with a major news outlet. Hey we were attacked by a Muslim faction. We have found numerous cover ups and support for terrorist attacks planned at mosques and the fact that they are muslim 1st and Americans second should make everyone afraid. The biggest fear is that someone like "Vivian" may get into office and allow the country to be overrun and victimized by these extremists. This woman ought to pull her head out of her @ss and look around. She should be afraid as well. but she appears to be too stupid for that emotion.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SeeBeeEss

    So NPR leaks an internal email purportedly to their employees to the press? A very transparent way of apologizing to angry donors without actually offering an apology to Juan! Let me guess…Vivian Schiller was in marketing at CNN prior to moving to NPR? This is better than the most amateur of politics!

    October 25, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Brickell Princess

    I could really care less about this issue. Could this be yet another smokescreen to keep our minds of the fact that the nation is under another economic depression? Keep our minds off the fact that the states and local governments are taxing Americans into poverty!?! Get a life media machine!

    October 25, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
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