Over the last week, I’ve been royally upset of both columnist/commentator Juan Williams and National Public Radio for their childlike antics as well as tact that both have displayed while trying to resuscitate their respectable careers. NPR has always raised the bar on providing credible and accurate news and analysis from all over the globe and has never strayed from the truth in providing dialogue from all viewpoints. But as the country has taken sides with Mr. Williams, lets not forget why he was terminated in the first place.
Williams, a black conservative, was a news analyst for National Public Radio. In a move by NPR’s management citing: “repeated violations of its guidelines;” is still in the middle of a media whirlwind. Including yesterday’s written apology for the way they handled the former commentator’s departure. In a letter release yesterday from NPR CEO Vivian Schiller, she acknowledged that “reasonable people can disagree about timing,” but didn’t back down on her and the network’s position on William’s firing.
Here’s the letter in it’s entirety courtesy of Politico.com:
Dear Program Colleagues,
I want to apologize for not doing a better job of handling the termination of our relationship with news analyst Juan Williams. While we stand firmly behind that decision, I regret that we did not take the time to prepare our program partners and provide you with the tools to cope with the fallout from this episode. I know you all felt the reverberations and are on the front lines every day responding to your listeners and talking to the public
This was a decision of principle, made to protect NPR’s integrity and values as a news organization. Juan Williams’ 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 its relationship with Juan Williams 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 Williams 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. We will also review and re-articulate our written ethics guidelines to make them as clear and relevant as possible for our acquired show partners, our staff, Member stations and the public.
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 are confident that NPR’s integrity and dedication to the highest values in journalism and our commitment to serving as a national forum for the respectful discussion of diverse ideas will continue to earn the support of a growing audience.
I stand by my decision to end NPR’s relationship with Juan Williams, but deeply regret the way I handled and explained it. You have my pledge that the NPR team and I will reflect on all aspects of our actions, and strive to improve them in the future.
Please feel free to share your concerns and suggestions.
As a journalist, I see how this incident was blown way out of proportion. In fact, Williams’ comments are tame compared to what his other right-wing contemporaries like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Bill O’Reilly have said in the past. But what he said doesn’t give him a pass to say just anything. NPR put Juan in his place and released him from the network. In my opinion, Williams was very irresponsible for making those comments about Muslims. The comments were insensitive, racist, and something that wasn’t appropriate. Don’t get me wrong, Juan, like me and the hundreds of thousands of columnists and analysts, have a right to their own opinion as stated in the Constitution, but there is a fine line between ignorance and facts. This is the same thing that got former CNN commentator Rick Sanchez fired last month for saying “all jews run and control the media.”Again, where did Sanchez get his facts? Two, how stupid can Rick Sanchez be? That’s like me saying “all African-Americans eat fried chicken and play basketball!” Opinion is one thing, but racist and unfounded remarks from both Williams and Sanchez have no place in the media. It goes back to what Vivian Schiller states in her apology statement that “traditional standards and practices are under siege.” And when you have a conservative and liberal media that continues to perpetuate commentators and analysts like this, the media dumbs itself lower and lower.
Here’s were I differ in how NPR handled the situation. First, as I stated earlier in my column, Williams’ comment was unprofessional and out of line. But, his comments were’t something he should’ve been terminated for. A suspension or asking him to apologize would’ve been a more suitable punishment. Also, I didn’t like how NPR took a week to decide to let the public know why he was terminated while Vivian Schiller made negative statements on Williams. Schiller made some very unprofessional comments as head of NPR and they were leaked before the public. Not only were they not dignified, it made NPR’s credibility “drop a couple of notches!”
In the end, Juan Williams is now worth two million dollars and will reach more viewers and NPR is now the laughing joke of the media! People, watch what you say, because your “political incorrectness” can be someone’s treasure.
Revolution Will Be Televised,
The Pace Report