Juan Williams Fired

Juan Williams was fired from his job at NPR as the result of a personal and politically motivated vendetta which the veteran newsman described as “vindictive.”

Williams, fired for saying Muslims on planes make him “nervous,” pointed to a flip comment by NPR CEO Vivian Schiller who said Williams’ comment should have been shared with his “psychiatrist or publicist,” and not the public.

NPR News terminated the contract of longtime news analyst Williams after the remarks he made on the Fox News Channel about Muslims.

Williams appeared on The O’Reilly Factor, and host Bill O’Reilly asked him to comment on the idea that the U.S. is facing a dilemma with Muslims.

O’Reilly has been looking for support for his own remarks on a recent episode of ABC’s The View in which he directly blamed Muslims for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Co-hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg walked off the set in the middle of his appearance.

Williams responded: “Look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

Williams also warned O’Reilly against blaming all Muslims for “extremists,” saying Christians shouldn’t be blamed for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Juan Williams joined FOX News in 1997 as a political contributor. He is a regular panelist on FOX Broadcasting’s Sunday morning public affairs program, “FOX News Sunday.” In addition, Williams anchors weekend daytime live coverage on the FOX News Channel.

Before coming to FOX, Williams spent 23 years at The Washington Post, where he served as an editorial writer, op-ed columnist and White House correspondent. From 2000-2001, Williams hosted National Public Radio’s (NPR) national call-in show “Talk of the Nation.” In that role, he traveled to cities across America for monthly radio town hall meetings before live audiences. Williams is currently a senior national correspondent for NPR.

The recipient of an Emmy Award for television documentary writing, Williams also won widespread critical acclaim for a series of documentaries including, “Politics:The New Black Power” and “A. Philip Randolph: For Jobs and Freedom.” He is the author of the non-fiction bestseller, “Eyes on The Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965” and “Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary.” Williams has also written numerous articles for national magazines including Fortune, The Atlantic Monthly, Ebony, GQ and The New Republic, in addition to appearing on numerous television programs including ABC’s “Nightline,” PBS’ “Washington Week in Review” and “Oprah.”

Williams is a graduate of Haverford College.

Washington Post 1976-2000

During college, Williams worked for three years as a reporter intern for the Philadelphia Bulletin. He also won a Dow-Jones Newspaper Fund Award for outstanding young journalists and worked for a summer as an editor at the Providence Journal before returning to finish college. After graduation, he won an internship at The Washington Post. He worked at the paper from 1976 to 2000. During his tenure at the Post, he held several positions, including metropolitan staff writer. While on the local staff he wrote a prize winning 6 part series on the problems in the DC public schools that was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His investigative reporting on corruption in Mayor Marion Barry’s administration also won several awards. He later served on the Post’s national staff – covering every major political campaign from 1980 to 2000 – and as a political analyst. He also wrote as the paper’s White House correspondent, as an editorial writer, op-ed columnist and for the Post Sunday Magazine.

While at the Post he became a regular panelist on Inside Washington, a weekly Washington political affairs program. In 1990 CNN signed him to be a host for its Crossfire program with co-hosts Bob Novak, Michael Kinsley and Pat Buchanan. He also regularly appeared on Capitol Gang and hosted Crossfire Sunday with Lynne Cheney.

In 1996, Williams became host of the syndicated television program America’s Black Forum. The show’s regular panelists included Julian Bond, Niger Innis, Deborah Mathis and Armstrong Williams.

Williams joined NPR in 1999 as host of the daily afternoon talk show Talk of the Nation. During his nearly two years as host the show gained its highest ratings. He then served as senior national correspondent for NPR, interviewing newsmakers as well as providing analysis of major events in interviews with the anchors for the newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition Saturday and Sunday.

Due to Williams’ commentary on the Fox News Channel, NPR requested that the FNC stop identifying him as an NPR host in 2009. NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard maintained that: “Williams tends to speak one way on NPR and another on Fox.” Williams’ following comment triggered the move:

Michelle Obama, you know, she’s got this Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress thing going. If she starts talking, as Mary Katharine is suggesting, her instinct is to start with this blame America, you know, I’m the victim. If that stuff starts coming out, people will go bananas and she’ll go from being the new Jackie O to being something of an albatross.

“As a result of this latest flap, NPR’s Vice President of News, Ellen Weiss, has asked Williams to ask that Fox remove his NPR identification whenever he is on O’Reilly.”

NPR terminated his contract on Wednesday, October 20, 2010 after he made the following remarks on The O’Reilly Factor two days earlier:

Political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don’t address reality. I mean, look Bill, I’m not a bigot, you know the kind of books I’ve written on the civil rights movement in this country, but when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous. Now, I remember also that when the Times Square bomber was at court, I think this was just last week. He said the war with Muslims, America’s war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts. But I think there are people who want to somehow remind us all as President Bush did after 9/11, it’s not a war against Islam.

According to NPR, the remarks were “inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.” As to the reason for the termination of Williams’ contract, NPR’s CEO Vivian Schiller offered the following comment, “News analysts may not take personal public positions on controversial issues; doing so undermines their credibility as analysts…”

On October 21, 2010, NPR CEO Vivian Schiller told an audience at the Atlanta Press Club that Williams’ feelings about Muslims should be between him and “his psychiatrist or his publicist – take your pick.” Schiller later apologized.

He is a regular panelist on Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace. He also regularly appears on The O’Reilly Factor and has served as a guest host on the show. After NPR announced his ouster from their network in October, 2010, FOX News granted him a new $2 million, three-year contract with an expanded role at their network which includes a regular guest-host role Friday nights on The O’Reilly Factor.

Following his firing from NPR, Williams appeared on The O’Reilly Factor and offered his thoughts on his role at FOX playing into NPR’s decision: “I don’t fit in their box. I’m not predictable, black, liberal. You were exactly right when you said you know what this comes down to. They were looking for a reason to get rid of me because I’m appearing on FOX News. They don’t want me talking to you.

Williams is the recipient of an Emmy Award for his work in television documentary writing, and has earned critical praise for a series of documentaries including Politics: The New Black Power, A. Philip Randolph: For Jobs and Freedom, Civil Rights and The Press, Riot to Recovery and Dying for Healthcare.

He was the scriptwriter for Oprah Winfrey’s primetime special – No One Dies Alone.

Williams’ 1988 book, Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-65, was written with the Blackside production team as a companion to the first season of the PBS series Eyes on the Prize. His 2003 book, This Far by Faith, is also a companion to a PBS series.

Williams has contributed to a number of national magazines, including Fortune, The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, Ebony magazine, TIME and GQ. He has also frequented a wide range of television programs including ABC’s Nightline, Washington Week on PBS, and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

NPR issued a statement praising Williams as a valuable contributor but saying it had given him notice that it is severing his contract. “His remarks on The O’Reilly Factor this past Monday were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR,” the statement read.

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  1. October 22nd, 2010
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