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 Bruce

    Litigation preparation list: 1) Post duly apologetic note on website, but don't concede anything; 2) read up on the twinkie defense; 3) buy the Idiot's Guide to Writing a CV; 4) Make Shortlist of new prospective jobs – top of list Al Jazeera. If all NPR executives act with the same lack of judgment, Juan is better off elsewhere. Why not teill it like it is. If Muslim's globally are offended for feeling wrongly stereotyped, let them speak out against the attrocities being perpetrated in the name of Islam. . . . . maybe they need a better PR manager. Vivian, the job could be open.

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

    What a joke this person is. I'ts hard to beleive that she made it to the top of ANY organization!!!! This shows the extreme double standard that the media has today!!!! What a disgrace!!!!

    October 25, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. WhatUTalkin'BoutWillis

    Next fund drive my local NPR stations have, I will be calling and telling them why I will not be giving this year. I love watching their programs, but it appears to me that their is a previously undisclosed agenda going on by the executives. I will not give them any more money until NPR makes changes to its top administrators. I will also be asking my congressional members to push for NPR to lose its federal funding. While the federal government only accounts to 2% of NPR funding, I own a business and I know how important that 2% is. It usually is the difference between me taking a pay check home or pulling from my savings account to cover payroll.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ScottsdaleJohn

    It does seem like Vivian should stop digging.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. exCONservtv

    Liberals are smarter but conservatives are stronger. I'm smarter and well armed. I win!

    October 25, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      I'm sorry, but winning a plastic Beck doll, is not my idea of winning.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mpouxesas sardanapalos

    really people...still there are people out there who 1) think there is such a thing as left/leftist/liberal etc in this country? 2) NPR is a left/liberal organization? It does not make sense...some of you who write here are (seem at least) educated (enough) to know. There is not left/right, red or blue...there is only GREEN and that is as in..money. Money rules and the rest of us are just...wasting time typing here...or continue to be irrelevant drowing in debt, sitting comfortably numb...to be another number...
    People use the expression...average american...well the average american is ...exactly that...average, nothing exceptional ...and it shows...but anyway, just give them a gun and let them go shoot some squirels....
    welcome to america...

    October 25, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DB

    People who give to the NPR, will continue to give to NPR, people who like NPR will continue to like NPR (intellectual enrichment, fyi). All those who use this ONE instance to say I wont give or listen, ask yourself, if you are not truthful now (calling the bluff), what else is wrong with your life. Think. Agreed some of you may be genuine, but for the most here, I am not sure.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mark B.

    Funny how President Obama isn't weighing in on this one. Can't the "annointed one" use this to create more racial division
    within the country? Where's Al Sharpeton, Where's Jesse Jackson? Where's the NAACP? The ACLU? Their hypocrisy is on full display here.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mark


    The Central Committe Chairman of the Socialist Republic of National Public Radio.
    Next week: Discuss the next 5 year plan and the new tractor factory and well as further curbs on free speech

    October 25, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Boo

    He would not have been fired if he said that he was scared to fly with Methodists, Catholics, Baptists....you get my point. So tired of the politically correct double standard.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. PoliticalDiva

    Some of these posts are dumb. At what job can you go and expressed YOUR opinion when you are representing your employer. NO WHERE. Mr. Williams did not go as himself but as a representative of NPR and when he is wearing that hat his views need to be in line with that of his employee. If he wanted to express HIS opinions then he should represent himself as Joe Citizen and not Juan Williams, NPR employee.

    And regardless, he did not speak for all Americans...he can only speak for himself. He was out of line to put all Muslims into the same category...that is called stereotyping. Yes, he may feel that way but he made very dangerous and unfair statements..when you are given a global platform you need to have some accountability..when you are on a news show you need to state facts..otherwise you should go on a talk show where you can voice your opinons without them being factual based.

    Being afraid is natural given the amount of media exposure that is drilled into our minds about what is going on in the middle east but am I justified in saying that ALL muslims are terriorist. NO! Absolutley not! That is just like saying all XYZ people do XYZ becuase I had this experience with XYZ...

    stick with the facts...a small percentage of people cannot represent the millions of others! Good grief! It is not rocket science.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Shinea

    NPR is no less biased than every other news outlet, only in their case they swing left of center and occasionally far left of center. Ms. Schiller was foolish in every respect to fire Juan. The only time I listen to Fox is when there was an opposing view to their far right commentary and Juan was usually the one to provide the balance. NPR has no one that provides balance to their news. NPR has shown more about their own self-righteous, overly politically correct, and fundamentally distorted world view then anything Juan said.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • DB

      Thank the left for siding and supporting with 50% of population for equal rights (women). I assure you the right would not have allowed that.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mark B.

    Funny how President Obama isn't weighing in on this one. Where's Al Sharpeton, Where's Jesse Jackson? Where's the NAACP? The ACLU? Their hypocrisy is on full display here.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bill French

    "This was a decision of principle, made to protect NPR’s integrity and values as a news organization.......deeply troubling incidents...........respect NPR's standards and .... avoid expressing strong personal opinions on controversial subjects analyst..........
    Really! Her recent email suggests incompetence and disrespect for different opinons and new ideas. Send Vivian away.

    October 25, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. kite005

    NPR CEO sorry for how she handled Juan Williams firing.........Well then hold yourself accountable and quit!

    October 25, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
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