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. SmittyATL

    I don't label myself, because my opinions don't always fit the mold; but most of my views would be considered conservative. That being said, I feel that NPR had every right to terminate Juan Williams if they feel that his publicly expressed opinions taint the image that they want to project. Fair enough.

    I think it's silly to cut government funding for NPR AS RETAILIATION for this incident.

    That being said, govenment funding for NPR should be terminated immediately because it is a waste of taxpayer money. There are plenty of privately funded news organizations in America that express a wide variety of opions. All news is biased, whether it comes from NPR, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, or elsewhere. I don't care about any argument that only a small amount of NPR's funding comes from taxpayers' pockets; any such use of our money is too much. Stop the waste, and cut our taxes and/or pay down the debt.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  2. Benson

    Juan Williams is one journalist who never has a mind of his own.He is basically a tool for divisionist conservatives with extreme tea party mindset. He doesn't practice objective journalism,and he is a judas escariot who has betrayed true journalism for a penny! He should go,and I won't miss him.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • john

      Do you even listen to Juan? He typically represents a moderate or liberal point of view. Please don't post if you are uninformed.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  3. Willy Brown

    When George Soros hands NPR 1.8 million dollars then he can have anybody fired. Why are we tax payers funding left wing NPR?

    October 25, 2010 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. Todd

    Well, one good thing came out of this mess. My decision of whether or not to contribute to NPR and their local affilliate was made much easier.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. steve

    i love how liberal exec's drag everyone into there own mistakes – by doing a complete "review" of the organization it assumes everyone else is doing wrong – when in fact the problem should have been dealt with directly and that is Vivian Schiller should have been FIRED !!!

    October 25, 2010 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  6. TBates

    Sounds like NPR is putting this black man in his place . the unemployment line. Fortunately the evil Fox news gave him a good job.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  7. Elle in Idaho

    The only reason this is "news" is because Fox News pounced on the opportunity. If Juan Williams had been warned multiple time about his conduct outside the office, then this result should have been no shock to him or anyone else. He knew exactly what he was doing and what he was saying. As with professional athletes and politicians, professional and high-ranking news men and women are subject to criticism by the media (since they know very well what they're doing and what the consequences are) and are expected to behave a certain way since they are a representative of the organization they work for. If you saw Glenn Beck go out and endorse a Democrat... over and over again... what do you think would happen? That's right, he wouldn't be working at Fox News anymore. He'd be fired. Because that's not what those people at Fox are supposed to do. It's all one big gimmick for them. It's the same for a REPUTABLE news organization like NPR. You don't behave as you're asked to under contract – YOU'LL BE FIRED – no matter what your political standing.

    Those of you out there who think this is all part of some political or liberal agenda by those at NPR must either never listen to the station, or you're so biased and stupid that you think everything on Fox "No Spin" News is fact. Get a life.

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

      Thanks so much for your voice of reason on this FOX-filled blog! The foul smell of O'Reilly watchers and Rush-listeners is everywhere!

      October 25, 2010 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • ApeHanger

      Since when is NPR a "reputable news organization?" They're the polar opposite of fair and balanced.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • cndhawg

      The truth appears to be more painful than I thought with the many postings concerning the fear of Bill Reilly and Beck...LOL.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • DHarri

      The only foul smell are your liberal supporters and your ignorance to think that everyone will be duped into believing our hogwash.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. True

    Whats the point of having a 'contract' if you can be terminated for something as simple as what makes you nervous?

    October 25, 2010 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  9. stephen

    NPR has become a bastion of the politically correct thought police. Their intent is to dictate what is, and is not, politically correct and therefore 'acceptable' thought and opinion. It is not that big a stretch from dictating and enforcing 'acceptable thought' on an employee, and attempting to dictate and enforce it on everyone. NPR has received its last dollar from me.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  10. jas

    ok, who fires Ms. Vivian for her biased, defaming comments about Juan? Were they just her 'feelings' so it's ok?
    What CEO speaks of a firing at a speech and then defames the person they just fired in a public forum?
    A little honesty would have been better – we don't want Juan on FOX, so therefore we have decided to part ways, we wish him well....end of story. Instead NPR and Ms. Vivian have given power to the group they so despise because she is guilty of unprofessionalism, qualities unbecoming a CEO, defamation of character and a complete lack of ethics!
    Guess what Ms. Vivian – Check mate! The FOX News Channel and Juan are outwitting you! AND if you are lucky, Juan won't personally sue you! Let us know when the hot seat is too hot and we will gladly accept your resignation. As far as taxpayers money...give it back!

    October 25, 2010 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. Disappointed

    NPR caved in to Fox News. Why? Your listeners support you. Only the people who don't listen to NPR and will never donate a single penny are mad.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • chewie

      You are wrong.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  12. Oh brother

    Of course she will stand behind her decision and insist it was the correct one. How else could she proceed? SMH

    October 25, 2010 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  13. greebo

    Thank you for listening, this program has been sanitized for your protection.
    Why do all their DJs sound like they're half asleep and practically eat the mic?
    Ahhh NPR, you're like a framed piece of broccoli in a doctor's office.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  14. Florida Libertarian

    Have no problem with Juan being let go as long as NPR is being consistent 100% of the time. I have a feeling that they are not watching their employees who appear on msnbc quite so closely.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  15. Leo

    I have been watching some youtube videos of Juan Williams recent foxnews shows, and have had a change of mind in relation to his firing. Although i personally like his style ,it would be inconsistent with the programing on NPR.
    He belongs on fox only.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
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