Juan Williams: Termination Justified?

27 10 2010

Last Thursday it was announced that NPR had terminated the contract of longtime staffer Juan Williams, in light of the anti-Muslim comments he shared on The O’Reilly Factor.

Bill O’Reilly, who recently caused a stir on TheView over his ideas that America has a “Muslim dilemma,” asked Williams for his position.

Williams stated:  “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 went on to warn O’Reilly about lumping all Muslims in with the actions of “extremists.” He cited the Oklahoma City bombings, and the fact that all Christians cannot be thought accountable for Timothy McVeigh’s actions.

NPR CEO Vivian Schiller spoke briefly with Leonard Witt of the Center for Sustainable Journalims while at the Atlanta Press Club.  Witt was able to film her explanation of the firing of Juan Williams.

 

 I think that this incident on O’Reilly was just the opportunity NPR was looking for to sever ties with Juan Williams- as it has been reported that executives of the organization have consistently taken issue with “Williams’ presence on the largely conservative and often contentious prime-time talk shows of Fox News.”

All this back and forth with conservative commentators calling out the “liberal media” and those alleged liberal figures accusing the right of “fear tactics” and “conspiracies” has got to stop.  I don’t think there is anyone who is a frequent news reader or watcher that can honestly say they haven’t noticed a political preference in their host network. Whether it is stated live or not, one can tell by the tone of the stories, and the kind of stories that are covered at all.

 

I understand that NPR would have been at a loss for cause to release Williams, or anyone like him (differing in opinion than themselves) if not for the statements on O’Reilly.

I agree with the fact that no one should be fired from a job based on personal feelings or behavior (unless it is consistently a negative influence on their performance).

I think it was cowardly of NPR exec Ellen Weiss to to inform Williams via cellphone that he would no longer serve as analyst at the news firm.

 

I think that Williams’ is a highly educated individual, and his statements were of a personal nature- although those statements were of an adverse position to the one held by his employers, they should not have been grounds for him to be let go.

I think that NPR would be surprised to know how many Americans- Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green or otherwise- share Williams’ admitted trepidation about sharing space with individuals that are displaying their now controversial religion in such an outright fashion.  And I do not see anything wrong with being made uncomfortable, or voicing that discomfort, so long as there is not malicious intent by either party within the situation- meaning everyone should conduct themselves as adults and not insitgate a problem because someone is wearing a Keffiyeh, or because someone looked startled by that Keffiyeh.

***Related article: “Most Democrats support continued U.S. funding for NPR.” ***

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