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. the_dude

    The only people who view npr as credible are the diehards. They lost their legitimacy long ago.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. chato

    Sounds to me like Vivian and Juan have been bumping heads for awhile. She is the boss and has the right to fire him, but she really screwed that up. It seems she may have hurt NPR a lot worse than Juan. If that is true maybe she should leave also.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John

    I am not listening NPR anymore. They are hypocrites. Terrorists blew NEW in the name of Jihad saying "AllAH WU AKBAR". Does NPR forget that ????? So if Americans are afraid of "muslims" it is not because they are racists or segragstionsists. AMerica welcomes Muslims.When Muslim countries slaughter their citizens for becoming christians America welcomes them and allowed them to build more than 2000 mosques in America.

    Still they attaced. So why wouldnt be afriad of muslims ? IT IS OUTRAGEOUS FOR NPR to budge to muslims pressure at teh detriment of offending tens of millions of AMericans.

    The Action taken against Juan is an action taken against of of us with similar views.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • DB

      If you really tuned in to NPR (purposefully and not accidentally) your intellectual self would have stopped you from thinking in those lines in the first place.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. KevivnB

    Interesting that one incident is all it takes to color an entire group of people. Are you people for real?

    October 25, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. freedtoo

    I really don't think this has anything to do with Juan Williams personal statement. I truly believe that it is the work of the George Soros and his left wing ilk who objected to Williams occasional appearances on Fox News offering a liberal (balanced ) point of view. It seems that the clumsy CEO, Vivian Schiller got her marching orders from the left (liberal) financiers and had no choice. I must admit that if I were a billionaire, I might consider becoming a social activist, it would make life a lot of fun, especially, owning a President and having control of the left wing media.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      I don't see any evidence that you think at all. Try again, next time stop reading garbage and use the part of your body above your shoulders to think

      October 25, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dorothy

    It is sad that a person cannot voice how they feel in certain situations. I do feel uneasy when I see a person dressed in Muslim attire when I use public transportation. It is the signs of the times. We cannot live in a shell, it is fact the Radical Muslim is why people feel or think this way. The statement that Mr. Williams made was not racial and did not call for firing it was a statement of how he feels and if you examine yourself you will recall situations or times you felt the same way, uneasy. 9-11 brings about a reality all Americans have to face; the enemy is not always someone that looks different from you. The word ENEMY has no race or color! Can't you see ANY?

    October 25, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ldsmom02

    As long as everyone here understands that while the news may be presented in a quiet and calm fashion, NPR choses which stories to report on and quietly and carefully words everything to accomplish it's personal agenda. If they truly mean what they say about their high journalistic standards then they would have fired a few other journalists as well.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • KevivnB

      NPR's standard is of intelligent thoughtful and factually supported news stories. That pretty much rules out anything Conservatives have to say.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SH

    This comminque makes no sense. This CEO is covering her fanny - she most deal with corporate sponsors. She won't be around for the next fall out. You can't flip flop with your employees, especially, Juan Williams. Mr. Williams was hired for his conversial manner. Now, you want to dictate how he should respond to a statement he made on another show.

    Ms. CEO start looking for other employment.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Quan

    NPR covers so much relevant, actual, in depth coverage on U.S. and world news, politics, business, technology, arts, music, etc. It's impossible to compare NPR to Fox or any other "news' outlet in any way shape or form... Juan Williams is still perfectly free to say whatever he wants on Fox because Bill O's show is opinion not news... unfortunately while both statements are true, the nuance between saying 'Muslims attacked the WTC' and 'the men who attacked the WTC were Muslim' is lost on many including Juan Williams... if he wanted to, he should have been smart enough to figure out a way to stick up for Bill O without throwing himself under the bus...

    October 25, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Shadowflash1522

    Listen to your own words: "NPR is government funded!"

    The government is currently dominated by the left. Why are we surprised that a gov't funded organization is expressing the views of the current gov't?

    October 25, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. pj

    The proper thing to do would have been to send Juan to a "re-education camp" for a few years.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Why? He's not a gay child of a conservative.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. KevivnB

    Is it me, or are there people in comment/chat areas like this whose sole purpose is to disrupt construction conversation? Whose payroll are they on?

    October 25, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. fs2

    It's the double standard that bothers me- what applies to a Black man does not apply to old white women– i.e. Cokie Roberts and Nina Totenberg.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |

    Hypocrisy of this woman is outrageous. Among other things she insulted Juan Williams on a personal level and never apologized for that to him. She is hiding her agenda behind principles that do not apply to those that agree with NPR
    leftist ideology. Goebels tactics par excellence. As fa as I am concerned good riddance. No money for you.Life is too short.

    October 25, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. cjack

    I agree 100% with Ms. Schiller. NPR did the absolute right thing in firing Juan Williams, but NPR did not handle the initial media relations with the firing. With the views that Juan Williams have stated on many occassions while appearing on Fox News displays a bias lean from the commentator. NPR has always been a non-bias report the facts media outlet, and I am glad that NPR made the move to maintain fair journalism.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      100% correct??? What about all the other left leaning reporters that spouted more insulting garbage. You could have heard crickets while that was happening!!!!!

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