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.

"Respectfully,

"Vivian"

soundoff (891 Responses)
  1. john

    NPR has tolerated equally (or greater) left wing opinions from their liberal columnists so there is unequal treatment based on the specific opinion expressed. The bottom line is they didn't like what Juan said and don't like that he is a fox contributer so they fired him. Juan is a moderate liberal on most issues but doesn't fit any ideological mold. As we've seen recently from other elements of mainstream media, they have little tolerance if your opinions fall outside their mostly progressive ideology.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      moderate liberal? I'd buy moderate conservative (Pretty sure hew was hired by NPR in the first place because he was black and he would represent a conservative viewpoint).

      October 25, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  2. Richard Ordowich

    What I don't understand is a reporter who would work for NPR and FOX simultaneously. Talk about a clash of cultures. FOX "News" is entertainment. Bill O'Reily is an entertainer so I guess now Juan Williams is now an entertainer too and will paid the big bucks. Sorry but I don't take FOX “news” seriously, nor do I expect professional reporting from FOX. Juan can now espouse on any subject in any way he pleases. I just wouldn’t attach any credulity to his "reporting".

    I think NPR had the right to fire him if they wanted to retain a semblance of reporting professionalism. Otherwise they should become a subsidiary of FOX.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  3. tafugate

    i agree juan williams probably should have been fired by ms schiller, or someone else up the food chain, personally. but he was obviously spreading hate, discontent, and fear unnecessarily. i believe he thought he was insulated by the mindless way foxnews goes about 'analyzing' (long a) their version of the 'news'. i think mr williams will fare much better in his new home. people watch the major networks' news, npr, cnn, etc, for the news. and watch foxnews for a laugh.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Florida Libertarian

      Fox is clearly marketing their product to conservatives, just like msnbc markets theirs to liberals. Something tells me if Juan was regularly on msnbc, he would still be working there. Have no problem with what he said, anyone who gets on a plane and does not look for people who might cause trouble is not being honest. Have no problem with NPR firing him, just wish they would stand up and say what it really was about instead of this crap they are spewing.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • tafugate

      the most common misconception conservatives have about news outlets is, whenever the news organization reports something they don't want to hear, or they disagree with, it's somehow a liberal tool. juan williams' comment about being afraid of what he perceives as a muslim in airports, is just incredibly ignorant. but no one's ever accused talking heads of being intelligent people. we realize they're just reading scripts most of the time. but juan williams was not only showing his ignorance, he was pandering to the bigotry very often subscribed to by his conservative viewers at foxnews. his firing was completely understandable.

      October 25, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Robbie

    * RED FLASH *

    You have all just been zapped by the M.i.B memory forgetter thingy

    October 25, 2010 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. The Truth

    Ok. Let me get this straight. She takes full responsibility. Well so would I if there were no consequences. Sound like the President always taking FULL Responsibility for his failed and unpopular ideas. Heck, I will take all the blame for everything wrong with no actions against me. That statement she made is just stupid.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. NewsAmused

    Interesting how Faux news is crying rivers for freedom of speech when Williams was fired for his stupid comments which is biased to say the least, yet when rick sanchez was fired from CNN for stating the simple and true fact that Jews control Fox and CNN the same ugly network became muted. Faux news is a disgrace for Journalism.

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

      Common now. The two comments were completely different...

      October 25, 2010 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jeffrey Toonen

    "Commitment to diversity" ... Wasn't Williams NPR's only African-American correspondent? Perhaps the CEO is the next person NPR should fire.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  8. 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 as closely.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  9. Rose

    Fire Vivian and stop the funding from the govt. It's as simple as that. End of discussion.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  10. Dhulfiqar

    🙂 Free speech? Sure he's free to say whatever he wants. And he's done that, he spoke freely. And he violated his contract. He had a choice. Simple is that. NPR isn't Fox News or even CNN. They have a different standard–a standard many of you do not understand because you have been engulfed in corporate news–news that runs by $$.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  11. Night Wings

    NPR who? lol....

    October 25, 2010 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • DHarri

      This letter mentions journalistic integrity a few times that would include free speech, this whole thing was NPR and their liberal attempt to be politically correct so when one of their employee's has a personal thought they can look forward to being fired for expressing their thoughts. I don't want my tax dollars supporting such a station thanks for exposing the this liberally biased organization. And for this woman to go on national TV and imply that Juan Williams is crazy should be an insult to the many journalists out there. NPR is more worried about hurting the muslim's feelings then reporting the news, the Government should make them compete in the private markets and stop wasting our tax dollars supporting this bunch.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • InReality

      What she really means to say is, "I'm deeply sorry I've irreparably harmed the NPR brand with my crazy Nazi-like censorship tactics. Therefore, I am planning to step down and allow a real leader to assume my position in hopes of fostering damage control." These _______ executives are becoming a REAL PROBLEM in America. That is my opinion.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • John Mccarey

      I hope that you can appreciate and respect my decision to never contribute to, or listen to, any of your programming again. I had no problem with what Juan said that caused you to terminate him. You obviously do not have your finger on the pulse of the average American. I hope that you lose your federal funding and that your contributors send a strong message that what you have done is unacceptable. perhaps, if you lose public support, you will be terminated.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • junior

      She is only sorry because people are now demanding that federal funding be stopped.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert W.

      I listen to NPR. They do have some good programs even though the liberalness pours out; I just ignore it and pick out the real facts.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • TerriL

      Funny, I feel the same negative feeling Juan expressed when I see someone wearing a cross or with a fish on their car and things of that nature. I understand Juan completely, then again, I am not claiming to be a journalist.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  12. mjd

    I have noticed that most of the posts from people who are against NPR are riddled with spelling errors. I cannot believe that these people listen to NPR, let alone understand the complexities of free speech, contract law, and ethics.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Albert

      what a ridiculous thing to say for someone who portrays himself to be the "intelligent liberal"
      people's views and beliefs are ENTIRELY not correlated with their intelligence. unless you've done studies to prove otherwise, i think you should keep your demeaning comments to yourself.

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

      Typical. When you are incapable of an appropriate argument, just call names or infer stupidity. The only reason she regrets her decision is that folks from both sides of that aisle recognized what a blunder she made, and now her poor decision may cost her plenty. Now she's trying to make people believe that the blunder was the delivery. But everyone knows it was the firing itself.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Jorge Washinson

      We understand Liberalism and what it has done to this country.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • GoFaster58

      I'm sure yu never made a speling eror and are perfikt.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • TerriL

      Surprised?

      October 25, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Don-MN

      TROLL ALERT.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Dean

      Only foreigners with limited knowledge of the English language and uneducated far left loons listen to NPR.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • None

      Some of the most intelligent people in the world are not good at spelling or grammar. Have you ever heard of Albert Einstein or Bill Gates? By the way, most highly intelligent people are "absent minded" but are very creative and advancers of society in general. Usually people who can't see the whole picture like yourself are very insecure. Maybe you should take this up with your therapist or publicist.LOL

      October 25, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • clarinet

      Stupid is actually defined as someone who believes NPR is anything but a collection of left-wing whackos. Note the lack of spelling errors, genius.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • innertron

      @mjd clearly you are an uneducated, terrorist-loving, spineless, anti-American ... i.e., democrat.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      mjd – that's because Fox News conservatives are thugs who don't think before they type.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • mmr

      When one has nothing of value to add to a chat forum, they resort to spelling or grammar comments. Chat forums, by tradition capture thoughts and opinions – not grammar and spelling lessons. (I hold a PhD in Engineering by the way – in case your elitism can't stand no knowing the quals).

      October 25, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      What an elitist thing to say. You sound like you think you are better than others and that their opinion doesn't count. Or in other words, you're an idiot! How's that, are all the words spelled correctly? Twit!

      October 25, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Just like liberals to try to act as if they are so much more intelligent than conservatives. Have you ever see interviews on the street? Most who vote Democrat cannot even tell you who the VP of the US is. That just goes to show you the true intellect of most people who vote for the Liberal candidates. They just fall in line with CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC and all of the other liberal news networks out there who try to paint conservatives as either stupid or racist. The fact is the liberal policies are what put this country in to a recession bordering on a depression. With policies like Fanny and Freddy which were liberal policies. Telling people everyone has a right to home ownership regardless of weather they can afford it or not! That is what has caused this Country to fall so deeply in to a hole. Stupid Liberal Policies!!

      October 25, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • wab

      Liberalism brought to this country the following: Women's right to vote, non-white's right to vote, clean air act, clean water act, the new deal, voting rights act, civil rights act, and most recently (or eventually) the end of don't ask don't tell (and yes I'm straight and in the military). I'm glad you know this already, I'm just repeating it for those who don't. BTW, conservatives opposed every single one of those acts.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Sheila H. Harley

      Amen to that!

      October 25, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Peacefrog

      Case in point:

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1323056/How-Jane-Austen-failed-spelling-using-regional-accent-poor-punctuation.html

      October 25, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Al

      I don't agree with the firing, but I do agree with MJD. Without the uneducated vote, the Republicans would have no party.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      wab – Fox News conservatives despise every one of those things.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • scranton

      "Understand the complexities of free speech"? How ironic that Juan was fired for exercising it.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • fbguy

      That's right mjd. People who disagree with the Juan Williams firing are just a bunch of slap jawed morons. Is this more in line with how you view people of a certain ideology?

      October 25, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • John Fields

      It is so amusing that you have provided the world with objective evidence on why NPR and all government subsidized drek needs to be stopped. how incredibly arrogant and adolescent. please leave your arrogant opinions to your self.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • DHarri

      Your about as arrogant as this woman working for NPR which by the way isn't that intelligent giving the fact that she is confusing free speech and personal expressions that doesn't include putting some liberal spin on a story for the sake of being politically correct. The good thing is she has managed to expose the wastefulness of our tax dollars as most know this station couldn't compete in the private sector and would beg the question as to its existence in the first place.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Anonymous - you know why

      The left's condescending arrogance and it's belief that anybody who disagrees with it must be intellectually inferior will always be the left's downfall. Your condenscening statements reaffirms that.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      I is be listening to it. It learns me a lot bout thangs. I didn't no it was just for smart peoples.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Phil

      Wow-Thank God we have people like you to point out that those opposed to your views are dummies!! Typical arrogant liberal-I apologize for the spelling errors oh brilliant one!

      October 25, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • matt

      agreed... and yes, conservatives are dumber than liberals. look at their positions on modern issues.. always archaic and uninformed. hell, in my state, we have a dope getting into the senate who wants to end all government and return living conditions back to the wild west. his name is rand paul, and he endorses this message.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert W.

      I listen to it. I bet some liberals listen to Rush for the same reason I listen to NPR. But they do have some good programs even though the liberalness pours out; I just ignore it and pick out the real facts.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Sorry not everyone can understand the complex like you. It must be so hard for you to be around so many people below you. Why even give everyone the right to free speech, they don't understand anyway. I think you should tell them what's best. Because there not as educated

      October 25, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • better red than dead

      wow, that was some holier than thou comment

      October 25, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Wallace Law

      I've listened to NPR for years, I've sent money to my local public radio station year after year but after this obvious political statement by the CEO, I will no longer vote Democrat, ever! I will no longer listen or send money to an obviously socialistic group with close minded dimwits at the helm. THis man has been debating on Fox for years stating his opinion's about our government, some for and some against, we have the right to do this last time I checked, but all of the sudden she decides, a few weeks before a very important eletion, to can him for telling someone how he feels about a topic that is very important, really shows us what NPR stands for, NATIONAL PRESIDENTIAL RADIO". I know the Tea Party will welcome a former Die Hard Liberal to their celibration next week. One more gone guys!

      October 25, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Conservative's willful ignorance is not like real ignorance, Mike. There's no excuse for it.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • CB

      I agree that contract law is complex. I am trying to figure out what is so complex about free speech or ethics?

      October 25, 2010 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Ohio - Eman

      MJD – It seem that you are taking a very high minded view, and that is the problem with most liberals. You are here to save the world, and anyone who does not meet you intellectual level doesn't have the IQ to understand a discussion on NPR. Maybe you should climb down off you imperial high horse and talk to people not at them.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • MaverickUW

      @wab: you're deluding yourself if you think that liberalism brought non-whites the right to vote. The GOP,aka what we call the republicans today granted the first rights to votes to former slaves. In fact it was the democrats who wanted slavery to continue

      October 25, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • JR

      I've noticed that far too many articles published on CNN.com are also riddled with spelling and grammatical errors – interesting.....

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

    "This was a decision of principle, made to protect NPR’s integrity and values as a news organization..."

    Integrity? What integrity? NPR now leans so far to the left it is in danger of capsizing.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • sherri

      Ah....NPR leans so far to the left it is in danger of capsizing? FOX capsized a long time ago, my friend. In the other direction, of course.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • TCP

      Ah...but Fox News is not subsidized by YOUR tax dollars...

      October 25, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • better red than dead

      Try listening to all points of view, not just NPR or Fox or any of the others. The day of unbiased reporting is long gone (if it really ever existed at all). The truth sometimes is in the middle. Listening to someone who is polar opposite of your views will not kill you. Sometimes they have valid points.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  14. mmr

    NPR /PBS is one donation location less for me this year. George Soros bought Juan's firing – so he can pay all of NPR's broadcasting from now on. Need to change the name of the network though – SBR – Soros Bought Radio.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • KateCT

      You should still support your local station. They help to promote local businesses, artists, schools, etc... I only support the local, not the national.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • TerriL

      I guess my increased donations to them will take up your slack. I fully support the few news outlets remaining unbiased. Alas, they are so few any more it is worrisome that we will eventually end up with nothing but stations like MSNBC & Fox and will have no clue what honest reporting even means anymore. From the posts here people prefer to have their facts interpreted for them anyway, we have to be one of the most intellectually lazy nations on earth.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • xmxm

      You just seem to be making an excuse to listen to NPR for free.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • caddiemurray

      TerriL, NPR isn't unbiased. I can't think of a single news outlet that is. NPR does lean left. However, they have some of the most intelligent, thought-provoking reporting out there, and that's why this moderate listens to them and not FOX News.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  15. JLC

    This isn't a "free speech" issue in the first place. No one is taking away Mr. Williams' s right to speak. Those who say it is an issue of free speech don't fully understand the legalities involved. Mr. Williams can still say whatever wants, but just not as an employee of NPR.

    What is at the basis of the discussion is that we have become so used to our news people combining news and opinion and entertainment that we forgot what it was like before. It is ironic that this happened on Fox News, which did so much to foster this type thinking.

    Mr. Williams had been repeatedly warned that he was at a conflict of interest with his appearances on Fox. He can now work for them full-time and espouse his bigoted belief that all Muslims make him nervous. I wonder what he would say if someone said that about blacks.

    October 25, 2010 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Keyanna

      > Mr. Williams had been repeatedly warned that he was at a conflict of interest with his appearances on Fox. He can now work for them full-time and espouse his bigoted belief that all Muslims make him nervous. I wonder what he would say if someone said that about blacks.

      I'm sorry that you feel this way. I felt that Mr. Williams was giving his honest opinion, and no I do not view him as a bigot.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • sherri

      Well said. A pleasure to read an intelligent comment

      October 25, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Jonathan

      Very well said, JLC. Other than yelling fire in a crowded theater or making a direct threat against the physical well-being of another person, we can all speak freely. But at the same time, we need to be aware that "freedom of speech" does not mean "freedom of speech without consequences." If you work at Apple and go around telling people that Apple makes terrible products and not to buy them, Apple is going to fire you. You're allowed to speak freely, just as Juan Williams did, but it doesn't mean that your words don't have consequences, just as his words did for him.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • TerriL

      It is very sad that people don't seem to grasp the difference in jounalism and commentary any longer. It speaks clearly that people fall for Fox's "fair & balanced" jargon and what ever crazy thing MSNBC calls themselves. Folks, Fox news "reports" opinion not facts, so does MSNBC...really we are losing the art of objective reporting completely. I cringe every time I make yet a deeper realization that people want their opinions, not facts, fed to them.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • the thinker

      I've been Conservative, I've been Liberal, and now I'm fanaticly moderate. Anyone who thinks this is not a Free Speech issue has been seccessfully deluded by their need to believe "their side" is infallible. 1000 years ago mindless lemmings genuinely thought they were doing a good thing by burning to death anyone who said the earth goes around the sun. Today the body is unharmed but careers and characters are assasinated just the same. The alarming part of this story is that the people who support NPR are as blindly deluded as the dogma-enforcing mobs from 1000 years ago.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • TCP

      When you say "what it was like before" exactly what timerame are you speaking of? Perhaps the time when there were THREE white men, working for unabashed liberal networks led by white men....is that what you are pining for?

      October 25, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • SM

      All the news networks took his statement out of context. He later goes on to say that he personally needs to work on his feelings toward that specific group of people. It is a fear... which he recognizes and that he feels need not be there.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Eunice

      Muslims....go home to you own countries and straighten them out. If you don't want to be in the USA and act like you have some sense, then leave.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • dv

      If you would have kept up with the story, you would know that Juan was asked by NPR to refrain from using his affliation with NPR in his FoxNews broadcasts. Further, since Juan was not acting as an agent of NPR while on O'Reilly, NPR's firing of Juan is quite questionable with regard to his right to free speech. Regardless, this apology is a joke – Vivian doesn't take any responsibility until the last few lines and then doesn't even mention the specific language that was insulting. Besides, Juan brought up a feeling that many people (even intelligent people) share with him.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • John R.

      I bet someone in a white hood would make him nervous as well. It would me. I do not think that makes him a bigot. Just not unconscious.

      October 25, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
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