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Juan Williams, NPR & News Debates

The NPR firing of Juan Williams. We look at the decision, the controversy, and the state of news in our superheated culture.

News analyst Juan Williams appears on the "Fox & Friends" television program in New York, Oct. 21, 2010. (AP)

And so, Juan Williams is off to Fox News, full time. A three-year contract and two millions dollars, we’re told. And NPR in his rearview mirror. 

But last week’s firing of Williams is still resonating, and still raising questions. 

Is there a line that journalists should not cross? A kind of opinion that even when sitting with straight-up pundits, with Bill O’Reilly, that Juan Williams should not have voiced?  That NPR had to call him on? Should there be a line? Was it crossed?

-Tom Ashbrook

For various statements by NPR and more, and public feedback to On Point since the incident began, link here.


Alicia Shepard, Ombudsman for NPR. She responds to the public’s complaints. Read her latest article, “NPR’s Firing of Juan Williams Was Poorly Handled.”

Mona Charen, syndicated columnist and political analyst. Read her National Review Online column, following her On Point appearance: “NPR Confronts Its Own Tea Party.” She is author of “Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help (and the Rest of Us).”

Jay Rosen, professor of journalism at New York University. He writes the “Press Think” blog.

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  • Turkey Trot

    It was time for Juan to go some time ago. However, this was not the way to do it. His remark was bigoted but not alone enough to fire him. His contract should not have been renewed the next time it came up.

  • James Buzard

    I support the firing of Juan Williams and am sad about the trajectory his career has taken. The Fox News model is to encourage people to make public their least creditable thoughts and fears; Juan gave in to that temptation. He must go. I listen to NPR all the time. It tries very hard to incorporate views from all sides of the ideological spectrum. It is far more accommodating to right-wing views than Fox has ever attempted to be toward the left or even moderate-left.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    NPR and PBS are national treasures and it’s a shame that in defending the NPR brand against irrational heckling from the right as being too far left*, NPR suits had to fire Williams. What they’ve attempted to do has backfired on them and maybe heads should roll because of this (Schiller, et al).

    Still, I think it’s odd that Williams would voice, even as part of a larger point to O’Reilly that not all muslims are terrorists, that seeing people in “traditional muslim garb” (whatever that is) gives him pause when boarding a plane. This sounds rather small-minded for a nationally recognized news analyst.

    *If you’re looking/judging NPR’s lean from a FOX perspective, of course it looks like a left leaning organization. Many people who judge NPR as left leaning don’t know the difference between editorial commentary and news reporting because they watch FOX and FOX mixes the two.

    To be fair (and balanced), MSNBC does this as well with their news and I don’t like it even though it’s closer to my political lean. Rachel Maddow’s show is not a news show, it’s opinion and I happen to agree and like it but I know the difference.

    NPR news, like AP, Reuters, and the BBC is pretty neutral.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    I wonder which one of these pictures Juan Williams saw that made him nervous?


  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that maybe Williams and Fox staged this to give NPR a black eye (no pun intended) and jump start his solo career on Fox.

    It certainly had the effect many who hate NPR wanted.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Joe Conason over at Salon has written a nice piece on this:

    Why the right really hates NPR – with or without Juan Williams

  • frank’s wild years

    With all that’s going on right now this is the Monday story? This was already gone over on Friday.

    The media is not doing it’s job, and I include NPR.
    What is happening in this country is democracy is dieing and we are living in the midst of it’s death knell.

    We are fast becoming an plutocracy and voting in Republicans will only speed this process up.

    This man Williams does not deserve this much coverage.

  • Steven Bradley

    I have listened to the comments and I did not find them offensive. What I did hear was someone having a discussion concerning bigotry in America. Juan only voiced what people actually think, also he did not say he keeps these thoughts in his head, only that he recognized the fact that the thought was present. The actual function of thoughts like this are a natural built in survival mechanism. We do this country, NPR, and Juan Williams a disservice when this organization, which espouses free thinking, did exactly what they have done and propagated effectual censorship. All of my adult life I have been an ardent advocate of NPR. I will acknowledge that even to me Juan Williams’ rhetoric has been at times bewildering, I still think that NPR’s handling of the situation is another indication as to the crumbling of the free thinking that has heretofore fortified the ideal of this once great country. When anyone punishes another for expressing an honest thought it discourages open debate and reinforces and justifies opposition to an open society. This country historically led the way in defining how to achieve the the greatest good for the greatest number. I now fear we are now no longer able to live up to our own ideal. It is a sad thing that I have lied long enough to witness such a demise. So much more the grand experiment.

  • adf1976

    if you think women in most muslim countries can wear what “Haifa Wehbe, in fishnets and just a few strings of pearls” is wearing with no repercussions – get over it!

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    Steven Bradley writes: “When anyone punishes another for expressing an honest thought it discourages open debate and reinforces and justifies opposition to an open society.”

    I couldn’t agree more. I am always disheartened when I hear that some public figure is fired for speaking their mind, no matter what I think of the person or the thought they’ve expressed. The only way we will ever understand other people is through the expression of their honest opinions. Any censorship of any kind anywhere is a wound to the body of our society, and the only truly unAmerican act.

  • Al Dorman

    I watched Fox News Sunday yesterday and couldn’t help but think Juan was grimacing during that big, deep handshake from Chris Wallace.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Steven: “Juan only voiced what people actually think”

    Which people? I fly often, I don’t think this? Juan has written books about the civil rights movement and racism in America, do you think he thinks it “professional” or okay for white people to get worried when he gets on a plane?

    Joshua: “The only way we will ever understand other people is through the expression of their honest opinions”

    I’m not interested in understanding Juan Williams’ deepest feelings, he’s a news analyst and reporter and knowing that he might feel this way colors his reporting.

    Yes, all reporters are human beings but NPR and PBS attempt to sort out editorial commentary from news. Fox, where Williams made the comments, encourages people like O’Reilly and Williams to vent their sub-cortical fears because viewers of Fox don’t want to hear nuanced, factual reporting, they want to hear simple, black and white arguments that support their fears and make them even more scared.

    This is not censorship, NPR has professional standards and Williams butted up against them more than once and was warned numerous times to tone it down. While his firing wasn’t handled well it was the right thing to do.

  • William

    We might not agree with Juan Williams opinions but he did bring an interesting observation to the discussion how many people feel when traveling. I’m not surprised to see NPR fire him since their liberal elite staff does not like honest discussions about serious problems in America.

  • Potter

    Steven Bradley and Joshua Hendrickson- regarding Bradley’s

    “When anyone punishes another for expressing an honest thought it discourages open debate and reinforces and justifies opposition to an open society.”

    When anyone? You mean in this case NPR should not decide on who it wants to employ based on their behavior and what they say in public? In this case NPR decided on not continuing to employ Juan Williams for his association with Fox “News”.

    Apparently Williams was aiming for this lucrative career move while using NPR as a stepping stone. NPR has only done itself some good as far as it’s journalistic standards go.

    So far, actually we have been having a nice lively discussion here and throughout the media about muslim garb, ( making broad brush judgements- prejudice and tolerance) the responsibilities of a journalist, journalism to citizens and the value of quality analysis. This discussion should continue.

  • Michael

    The real danger from NPR’s firing of Juan Williams


    ‘m still not quite over the most disgusting part of the Juan Williams spectacle yesterday: watching the very same people (on the Right and in the media) who remained silent about or vocally cheered on the viewpoint-based firings of Octavia Nasr, Helen Thomas, Rick Sanchez, Eason Jordan, Peter Arnett, Phil Donahue, Ashleigh Banfield, Bill Maher, Ward Churchill, Chas Freeman, Van Jones and so many others, spend all day yesterday wrapping themselves in the flag of “free expression!!!” and screeching about the perils and evils of firing journalists for expressing certain viewpoints. Even for someone who expects huge doses of principle-free hypocrisy — as I do — that behavior is really something to behold. And anyone doubting that there is a double standard when it comes to anti-Muslim speech should just compare the wailing backlash from most quarters over Williams’ firing to the muted acquiescence or widespread approval of those other firings.

  • LinP

    Juan Williams has become a lightweight over these past number of years. When he would have a segment on NPR, I’d switch instantly to easy listening. Nothing much lost, IMO.

    But the way the world works these day, journalistic standards be damned. Juan is cashing in and laughing all the way to the bank.

    Mara Liasson should move over to Fox “News” too. It’s what she’s aiming for as well.

  • Michael

    Above all else, this fear-generating “nexus” is what must be protected at all costs. This is the “troubling” connection — between Muslims and terrorism — that Williams lent his “liberal,” NPR-sanctioned voice to legitimizing. And it is this fear-sustaining, anti-Muslim slander that NPR’s firing of Williams threatened to delegitimize. That is why NPR’s firing of Williams must be attacked with such force: because if it were allowed to stand, it would be an important step toward stigmatizing anti-Muslim animus in the same way that other forms of bigotry are now off-limits, and that, above all else, is what cannot happen, because anti-Muslim animus is too important to too many factions to allow it to be delegitimized.

  • Zeno

    This entire thing reminds me of when Jimmy Carter stated that he had “Lusted in his heart”. The media used that to badger carter for years. All of it… is a over sensitive politically motivated cudgel.

    This is the story of political correctness run amok, and how this now very standard media misdirection and control is used to convert the molehill into a mountain to obscure the landscape of reality behind it.

    The real question of this story is why American media has become so focused toward converting tabloid trivia and outright lies into mainstream news, and trivializing really critical issues of national and public importance to mere soundbites.

    The importance of removing opinion and biased reporting from news and vetting that reporting is what is at issue here. The real story is why does a large segment the American public demand to be fed trivia, bias and lies?

    IMO its Bread and Circus as just further proof that the Empire is under collapse, and as its legions battle for resources in a futile hope to stave off that collapse through conquest, and at home the top 20 percent of the empire also try every scheme to transfer the wealth of the lower 80% of domestic wealth to themselves, all while strutting about in their togas declaring that everything is to blame except the plutocracy itself.

    Even if someone will cross the Rubicon to save the republic, it may be too late…because the Vandals are on their way…

    Those who ignore the lessons of history (or are to ignorant to know or acknoledge it)…are destined to repeat it.

  • Ed

    Juan Williams was kind of vindicated when an American-born Al Queda person said this weekend that Muslims in the US and Europe should attack their countries.

  • Michael

    But of course this is more important than finding out U.S. troops looked the other way when people were tortured in iraq, civilians deaths were covered up.

    For the past ten weeks Al Jazeera has had complete access to those files. As part of our forthcoming coverage, we reveal how the US military gave a secret order not to investigate torture by Iraqi authorities discovered by American troops.


    How friendly fire became routine
    Secret order that let US ignore abuse
    Iraq war logs: British legal threat as UN calls on Obama to look at torture claims
    Captives handed to torture squads
    The video: Licence to torture

    As well, the U.S. covering or under reporting civilian deaths up yet secretly counting them.

    Sad that like the economy the Tories and liberal Dem’s are doing what is necessary unlike the U.S. are calling for an investigation into this.


    No outcry from the right?

  • Zeno

    “For the past ten weeks Al Jazeera has had complete access to those files. As part of our forthcoming coverage, we reveal how the US military gave a secret order not to investigate torture by Iraqi authorities discovered by American troops.” -Posted by Michael

    The interesting thing about this information is this. Would these documents be made public within the USA, and published by ANY us media outlet.

    Sadly the answer is absolutely not…which means that people in other countries have greater access to the operation of the US military and government than do it’s own citizens. Who really owns and controls the US government and it’s military?

    IMO That is the crux of this story.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    “The importance of removing opinion and biased reporting from news and vetting that reporting is what is at issue here. The real story is why does a large segment the American public demand to be fed trivia, bias and lies?”

    Well said Michael.

    If the American public doesn’t know the difference they’ll eat whatever tastes good and is in front of them, in this case Fox and MSNBC.

    Whether NPR and PBS have successfully sorted this stuff out, there is no doubt that they’re trying, which is very different from Fox and MSNBC.

    The right has been attempting to make the “NPR is a liberal conspiracy backed by Soros” meme stick for years and unfortunately, the way Vivian Schiller handled this firing tosses gasoline on that fire.

  • Brett

    In this case, conservatives were handed something to moan about on a silver platter, no matter which way NPR had gone. If NPR hadn’t fired Williams, conservatives would have cried foul; they would have said that Williams should have been fired for his remarks; they would have said that if he’d been a conservative instead of what they consider a liberal (albeit one who has been a token liberal on Fox News), then the “liberal elite staff” (as William characterizes them) would have lambasted him.

    Since NPR went the other way and gave Mr. Williams a consequence, conservatives are crying “hypocrisy!” and “those liberal elites want to stifle all opinion except for their progressive agenda!” and so on…

    There wasn’t anything particularly “interesting” in Mr. Williams’ “observations.” And, what could have seemed like a moment of self-evaluation on Mr. Williams’ part in another context was really a kind of passive set-up for O’Reilly. If Mr. Williams had thought he could say what he said without playing into the Fox contextual hand, as it were, then he might just be someone who is less than the sharpest tool in the shed.

    The so-called liberals on Fox News are just fall guys and props to 1) a feigned attempt to make Fox look more balanced and 2) to reduce the so-called liberal view to its lowest common denominator, reducing it to what Fox wants to be perceived as a silly point of view that can’t hold up against conservative evaluation.

    I am glad Mr. Williams was fired, not for his comments but for his stupidity and for his desire to play doltish patsy to get the big bucks.

  • George Holoch

    The subject is not worthy of so much attention, except for journalistic navel-gazers. But since it’s on the table , two brief remarks:
    1) JW is a word man (after all he made an honorable reputation with Eyes on the Prize), so there is no excuse for his beginning his controversial remarks with “I’m not a bigot” Shades of “Some of my best friends are (the enemy of your choice).
    2) The outraged cries of “censorship” directed at NPR are beneath contempt, considering their source and the long history of the stifling of dissent from the left in this country in subtle and not so subtle ways.

  • Walter Hylton

    Juan Williams was never a great journalist. Rather than presenting a new take on a story, he parroted talking points and reiterated the conventional wisdom. His interviews were a study in softball questions.

  • Stuart Gardner

    Tom, I am available for an interview at your convenience
    (excepts from my column, Beverly Citizen)

    Guarding the Important

    “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you”
    (part of the warnings that officers of the law must read to an arrested person taken from the Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona)

    Juan is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.

    First it was Helen Thomas for saying Jews should go back to Poland then it was Juan Williams for saying he was irrationally scared of Muslims on planes, both are prominent and intelligent reporters who were fired for saying their opinions about a particular hot button issue. Unfortunately, there are many more examples of this type of action (firing) over the previous 3 years.

    First thing we do here is to make a rule that we cant fire someone within 15 minutes of anything they say, unless of course they say “I quit”, then its ok to fire them.

    Next, to prove my objectiveness, I want to offer full disclosure. One, I have a terrible fear of fat people in front of me at the “all you can eat buffet”, ever see it? Those with overactive thyroids coupled with suffering from a poor childhood diet go to the buffet counter, there is a plume of smoke, then puff, no more food. Two, I fear any old lady in front of me at the supermarket check out line paying with a check, why do people still pay with checks? Lastly, I fear anytime my phone rings and the caller ID says “association of… (fill in the blank, “homeless midget veterans, “traumatized transgender Civil servants” and/or abused Romanian gypsies), I have decided I really need one of those robo messages, instead of calling me, to answer the phone for me and say (In a cool robot voice) “Stuart Has No Money, repeat, Stuart Has No Money”

    We need to chill out. If we trust someone, someone like Juan Williams or Helen Thomas or anyone else that has spent oddles of time reporting to us, we need to allow them to express their opinions, even if those opinions are not what we think are congruent with political correctness. In fact, I think we are better off with knowing their opinions. If I was the head honcho at NPR and Juan makes his comment about Muslims getting on planes, the first thing I would do is assign him to interview Muslims in Muslim garb getting on planes. Why? Because I know, he knows that everyone and their uncle will be looking at his reporting

  • Brian

    It was time for Juan to go because he was a mostly worthless contributor. He and Cokie bring little fresh perspective in a data-driven blogging world. Get Nate Silver on to discuss polling data, Marc Ambinder from the Atlantic or Ruffini from the Next Right to get all perspectives.

    Besides, what Muslim garb did the 9/11 hijackers wear?

    Good luck at Fox Juan gone, you and O’Donnell can host a new show maybe.

  • g t

    The question shouldn’t be should Juan Williams be fired. It should be can an objective news organization allow its employees to work for the PR division of the republican party. And the answer should be no. The actual debate should be is fox a legitimate news organization. Fox has for instance donated heavily to the republicans this year and employs a number of potential republican presidential candidates. And NPR is not Liberal. It is a fact based news organization. It’s just that the facts rarely favor republicans.


    The double standard exhibited by NPR in firing Juan Williams over his recent politically incorrect comments while at the same time continuing to employ Nina Totenberg despite her comments on the “poetic justice of Jesse Helms getting AIDS” (see clip http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/will-npr-fire-nina-totenberg-for-wishing-jesse-helms-would-get-aids-105441948.html is the reason why many people believe that the mainstream media in general and NPR in particular have a strong liberal bias. Juan Williams was simply expressing what most of us do rationally feel (if we are honest with ourselves)when we see a Muslim board an airplane, fear over another 9/11 incident. (of course, not all Muslims all terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslim, 99% of those that fly airplanes into buildings). Can you imaging the outcry if someone from a more conservative viewpoint working for NPR (there probably is no such person) had said that “it would be poetic justice for people engaged in non-monogomous heterosexual or any kind of homosexual relationship to get AIDS, given the known risk factors of such irresponsible behavior?” But let’s be honest: In the minds of the decision makers and the vast majority of employees at NPR, Juan Williams was a marked man as soon as he appeared on Fox Network. They were simply looking for an excuse, however flimsy and biased, to get rid of him. By the way, if NPR now fires Totenberg or allows her to “pursue other interests”, it is too late. That decision should have been made immediately after she made her hate speech comments.

  • kd

    It seems like what Juan said was honest and representative and ill-considered and problematic.

    What does he think “bigoted” is?

    What does he think ordinary Germans honestly thought about Jews in the early 1930′s? What does he think typical Americans really thought about Japanese at the start of World War II? How does he think Japanese Americans ended up in internment camps?
    Were we admirably un-bigoted because at least we refrained from wholesale slaughter at the “relocation centers”?

  • Brett

    I wonder if O’Reilly would do his “pinhead or patriot?” schtick on Williams if Williams were not a Fox commentator? If so, would O’Reilly go for “patriot”? (Maybe he already has??) I’d also bet Frank Luntz is having meetings with Fox suits every day trying to figure out the best way to further spin this incident!

  • Brett

    The Nina Totenberg comments as a comparison and example of “hypocrisy” or “double standard” is a false equivalency ploy.

  • cory

    NPR got rid of a commentator splitting time w/FOX news, Juan Williams got a multi-million dollar upgrade to his contract with FOX.

    What’s the big deal?

    Everyone wins. NPR, FOX, Juan, talking heads everywhere, and NPR bashers will all get plenty of mileage out of this non-story.

  • Expat Bob from Nassau

    It’s amusing to hear those whose principal sources and outlets are “Fair and Balanced” Fox News or Limbaugh’s “Excellence in Broadcasting Network,” from Palin to Gingrich to Demint and their followers, blasting NPR for enforcing its journalistic standards. To them, liberals are fair game at the slightest hint of doing something off-base; but it’s perfectly acceptable to them for conservatives to continuously characterize President Obama and his supporters as Nazis, socialists, etc. At least NPR does have standards that its journalists must respect.

    The conservative media and those funding it, so many of them closeted thanks to the “Citizens United” decision, get away with concocting whatever it takes to castigate everybody who doesn’t lean their way politically. If they succeed in eliminating NPR’s pittance of federal funding, will they also eliminate the tax deductibility of contributions to the 501(c)4 groups?

    Signed: As Committed as Ever to NPR (maybe even more so now!)

  • Brandstad

    Steven: “Juan only voiced what people actually think”

    Which people? ALL honest thinking people. I fly often and I feel the same as Juan? I have often had conversations with others that have felt the same, and watched the nervous stares from many in the airport.

    Weather you feel this way or not doesn’t change the fact that many people fear being attacked by a group that has attached in the past and promisses to attack in the future.

    This is no different than Jews in 1948 being nervous when they herd people speaking German.

  • pw

    Virginia Schiller did a bad job of firing Williams and apologized for it. She should have handled it much better. But he needed to go. He’d lost his integrity, had become brash and snarky — inappropriate on NPR.

    Now let’s say adios to the other Juan, please. Juan Forero has been reporting from Latin America for years. His reports on the new, stable, and left-leaning democratic governments have been, well, snarky even as those countries’ cooperation has been a big step forward. I’d like to see him replaced with a correspondent who takes a less superior attitude towards their efforts, someone who has greater respect for our neighbors.

    Supporters of NPR are faced with a dilemma: NPR is in the lead in both national and international journalism even as it still has a long way to go. I’d love to see it detached (finally!) from Congress and become an independent, non-profit news organization similar to Pro Publica.

  • Will H

    To be honest…I get nervous if I see a black man walking in my neighborhood… Black men robbed and killed a pizza delivery man, father of three. Sorry, but that’s the truth. Am I a racist? Did I make a racist remark? Of course. Should I be spewing my opinion, claiming objectivity, and unbiased journalism. Absolutely NOT!

    Somehow Americans have been convinced that Fox is “right wing” and just about everyone else “left wing”. The reality is that Fox is “right wing OPINION” promulgated by Rupert Murdoch, much of it based on falsehoods, where as an organization like NPR is simply NEWS. Any reporter giving opinion is NOT unbiased. Murdoch WILL be successful in bringing about an end to American democracy. Please, let’s give him and other billionaires all the support that they need.


    The Nina Totenberg comments as a comparison and example of “hypocrisy” or “double standard” is a false equivalency ploy.

    Posted by Brett, on October 25th, 2010 at 8:55 AM


    On the contrary, Nina Totenberg’s comments constitute hate speech for which the liberal left would have castigated similar kind of talk on the other side. And the worst part about it is the laughter during and after her comments and the fact that she wasn’t challenged for making such a provocative comment.

  • skip

    It is clear from the comments I have read here that most are ignorant or blind to the truth. Wake up people. National Propoganda Radio’s true colors are coming through. Yes evil is always discovered over time. Unfortunatly a lot of damage is often done before that happens. Yes bad employees are found out, people eventually show their true nature, and bad companies (most are good) will eventually show you who they are. The firing of Juan Williams demonstrated in a big way the true nature of NPR. But, the signs have been there for a long time – Diane Rhem, Terry Gross, Nina Totenberg (FAR LEFT flame throwers all), and on and on. Have you listened to the strong Obama tilt or heard the above personalities say the most outlandish things without reprecussion. And then there is George Soros, billionaire and Marxist who distroyed the economy of England to mention just one. His recent funding of NPR and the influence he weilds supplements the FAR left wing Ex-Times CEO. Clearly now NPR will simply be a Soros puppet, not that they needed much help in that regard. Read this link to newsmax and their take on Soros.


    The NPR approach is mindless support of the marxist, socialist, Soros, and Obama types. It is nice to have them in the open. Now we simply need to END the tax dollar support to ensure that those who do not support socialist approaches do not fund them. Of course this applies to companies and their dollars as well. It is time to wake up to those who want to distroy capitalism and freedom to start to defend this country.

    NPR clearly is a global socialist bent these days (not so in the past). Want more proof, ask youself why do I hear the BBC programming in AMERICA – the ultra far left BBC? Why do they play “World Have Your Say?” It is clear there is no loyality to American in this theme. Stand up for AMERICA and against NPR. or try to change NPR from the inside. Either way we need to fight this push for marxism or it will be the end of us.

  • Peter Smyth

    Take a look at Edward R Murrow’s speech at the end of the movie Good Night and Good Luck. Murrow defined broadcast journalism. I think NPR is trying to stay true to that definition. Williams has not.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Zeno< Michael and cory, Good Day:
    The firing of Juan Williams is already old stale news, and even the new Iraq WikiLeaks are old stale news. A new toy will be dancing above the People's Crib before this show airs. We at Figgers call it "censorship by glut."

    Camille Paglia, a very bright celebrity, said she thought Marxist analysts were snobs because they bragged about their gifted insight while claiming the populous was dumbed-down. What she failed to comprehend was the power dimension. What are people allowed to know (hear about in a calm even-handed way, or at all)is a science of sociopolitical engineering. You three know the effort you exert to try and understand reality: Do you really expect people with demanding jobs, managing a Family Dollar or driving a tractor trailer across the country (both 60 plus hours weekly), to do the searching and consideration we with leisure do? The Mom with little kids or the medical office manager can't even find the time. The truth of Juan Williams' career choices would be very complex and could result in a long article about journalist and celebrity roles in media today. The facts of summary execution and torture strategy in occupied Iraq (per WikiLeaks alone) might justify a lifetime of scholarship under today's micro-focused academic rigor. The truth is we should admit no one knows all the facts about anything, because there is distortion in media (including Internet), and there are things being kept from us. And we should understand there are a ten thousand new situations of greater importance this morning than Juan Williams job change for bigger money. I used this opportunity to make a point and not because I cared. You'll know "the biggies" when you see 'em- this ain't it. If On Point jumps on every little dogpile, we don't have to follow. Buy a fresh croissant this morning and quit microwaving the old bread.

  • Alan

    Juan Willims shouldn’t have been fired over this, but he has been a lightweight from day one. He was fired from of NPR’s ‘Talk of the Nation’ because he was so superficial in comparison to the much more insightful Ray Schwarez who left for The News Hour.

    To William’s credit, he does seem like a really cool guy, so un to listen to….but superficial for NPR.


    Why is it whenever I see posts by some of the far-right posters here who, apparently cannot spell (HERD does not = Heard and Weather which is what it is like outside and does not = Whether), WRIGHTS(sic)IN CAPITALS, and lambastes NPR for being a socialist leaning station, and use excuses like we are homosexual-promoting media who is only interested in killing the unborn, I tune out totally 1/2 way through reading their posts. Maybe because their arguments are blind, all-out rants and make little or no sense in the grand scheme of the world. Which is a prime reason I do not watch FOX news or listen to the screeching, right-wing financed radio. Their skewed approach to “news” does not use facts or common sense and their diatribes almost always resort to insults and over-the-top ranting and subterfuge to make a point. I prefer my news sources to be respected and founded in facts, not opinion. Just sayin. :)

  • Edward Burke

    NPR stalwarts John Hockenberry and Celeste Headlee introduced their show “The Takeaway” on Friday, 22 October, by declaring in their conversational manner that the lexical construction “I am not a bigot, but–” succeeds only in identifying the speaker as a bigot, that the very denial of bigotry compels disbelief.
    By this institutional measure of objectivity, how credible is Alicia Shepard’s declaration of not twelve hours earlier in her NPR Ombudsman’s post of Thursday evening, 21 October: ” . . . Nor is (the Juan Williams firing) about an alleged attempt by NPR to stifle conservative views”? Can this assertion not also be construed in a similar if not identical manner, as actually saying, meaning, and intending “of course this was a case of stifling conservative views”? Following the compelling logic of Hockenberry and Headlee, an NPR devotee could hardly think otherwise.
    The fact that Williams’s dismissal came with an after-midnight press release more than forty-eight hours after his “lapse” (on par with Vivian Schiller’s one-time gaffe that Williams consult a psychiatrist) conjures images of a Committee of Public Safety or a Cheka bent on a purge of its own ranks. (This is not an image necessarily to be invoked, but it springs to mind without appreciable provocation.) Williams’s keeping company with the likes of Bill O’Reilly takes on the appearance of a formerly staunch Montagnard being too chummy with unsavory Girondists or Hebertists, or an erstwhile Bolshevik carrying even a single pail of water on behalf of a Constitutional Democrat or a Menshevik. Maintenance of ideological purity is what this episode looks like to any number of pairs of disinterested eyes: it LOOKS like a purge, a refutation and denunciation of someone who, upon expulsion, is to be reviled as an ideological traitor (at worst) or a self-serving stooge (the charitable view).

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    From Glen Greenwald’s take on this:

    In 1986, Juan Williams participated in a forum in The New Republic regarding a column by The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen, who had justified the practice of D.C. jewelry store owners who would “admit customers only through a buzzer system, and some store owners use this system to exclude young black males on the grounds that these people are most likely to commit a robbery”. Defending this race-based exclusion, Cohen argued that “young black males commit an inordinate amount of urban crime,” and that “black potential victims as well as white ones often act on this awareness, and that under certain circumstances, the mere recognition of race as a factor . . . is not in itself racism.”

    Responding to Cohen’s argument, Williams said: “In this situation and all others, common sense in my constant guard. Common sense becomes racism when skin color becomes a formula for figuring out who is a danger to me.”

    Executive summary: Juan Williams is a hypocrite.

  • John

    Spelling properly is evidence of elitism.

  • Scott G

    Juan Williams’ biggest mistake was expressing fear and cowardice in the face of a potential enemy. Where I come from this is considered un-American. NPR was right in firing Juan for his fear mongering. If we are to have bogus political analysis with a right wing bias, then we need fearless bogus political analysis with a right wing bias.


    Spelling properly is evidence of elitism.

    Posted by John
    Well I guess I have outed myself – elitism has apparently come down to my level since my income doesn’t exceed $40K/yr and I don’t work at an University – bad spelling just makes me cringe -especially when used by those who rant at others about how they are uneducated, liberal hacks

  • Brandstad

    Was Juan A political commentator or a journalist for NPR and FOX? I thought he was a commentator at both but I might be wrong. I know he was a commentator at FOX when he made the comments that offended terrorists and Muslims alike. If he was a commentator, why is he being compared to a journalist?

  • Kathy Simmons

    Of all the NPR reporters JW is the ONLY one who let his political leanings known in his reporting. It irked me to no end to hear comments that left no doubt of his conservative leanings. The guests on NPR get to make their opinions known-but the interviewers should not. I am glad he is gone from NPr and as I NEVER watch Fox the only time I’ll hopefully have to hear about him is on Keith Olberman’s Worst list!!

  • Bill Pulliam

    I have to agree that I think there’s a significant chance that this was engineered by FOX and Williams to discredit NPR: “Say something that will get you fired by NPR, we’ll give you a big fact contract and you’ll give us fodder to use to bash them.”

  • jeanine

    Personally I think Juan Williams crossed the line some years ago with his fawning interview of President Bush. Had it been TV we would have been able to see the adoring look on his face and the stars in his eyes.

  • Andrew

    Does NPR need commentators? Aren’t there enough commentators on every other network?

    P.S. – Williams’ commentary was boring. I won’t miss hearing him, though the handling of the firing was atrocious.

  • Fletch

    It’s worth pointing out, as Juan Cole did, that Juan Williams supported the firing of Don Imus and felt that rap records should be censored. That may not justify his firing, but it pretty much pulls the moral ground out from under him.


  • Tom

    The problem here is that FOX should not be considered a “news organization”. Once you make that leap everything gets a lot simpler. As long as FOX keeps blurring the line between journalism and advocacy this problem will only get worse.

  • Kevin

    Tom, PLEASE ask the NPR ombudsman why Nina Totenberg and Cokie Roberts are allowed to go on other networks and give opinions (almost always left-of-center opinions), with no retribution?

    Isn’t this a huge double-standard???

  • Brandstad

    CHRIS M,

    Who pays you to write at your computer in your underwear in your parent’s basement?

    Is it George Soros or one of his organizations?

  • Glenn Pollock

    The conservative are criticizing to firing of Juan stating that he was fried because of his views. Now the conservative support the right to work states were any on can be fired for any reason at any time. You can not have it both ways.

  • Mr. Trees

    The firing of Juan Williams, in the way that it happened, gives an unnecessary negative perspective to NPR as a whole. Also, as a twenty-something moderate NPR listener, it gives my ideologically conservative father firing power. I mean, come on, the last thing that any of us need is a reason for the Beck, O’Reilly, Hannity crowd to feel justified.

  • Brandstad

    Didn’t a NPR journalist about a year ago say she wished a specific republican/conservative contract AIDS through a blood transfusion or one of his children? Is this characteristic of a Journalist?

  • Brian

    I feel the fact Mara Liasson appears on Fox frequently proves NPR judges it correspondents not on where they speak but what they say.

    Idiotic comments that paint a whole religion based on the actions of a few prove the speaker unworthy of broadcast platform.

  • Bill

    I hate Fox as much as anyone I am sure. Nevertheless, the president of NPR should be fired for firing him. He said that he was afraid when seeing a muslim in full-garb. He went on after that to say such feelings are wrong. So he was not expressing his opinion as opinion but rather he was “reporting” on the state of feelings (just so happens it was his) and then saying that was wrong.
    This is absolutely perfectly fine for a journalist to do. If he did other things he could be fired maybe for that but not for this.
    Saying we have a muslim problem is true. We should not but we do. It is that we fear them instead of respect them.
    The president of NPR made a terrible call and should go.

  • Will

    When you lay down with the dogs you should expect to get fleas!

    I alway like Juan but felt he needed to pick the side of the fence he was sitting on!

  • http://notyet Charles A. Bowsher

    This whole episode (if you watch the full O’Really segment) is reminiscent of the Shirley Sherod (sp?) incident. One statement out of context can be damning. Viewed in its entirety he made a reasoned argument for all of us to stop and examine our own prejudices. NPR failed us this time, it doesn’t happen often, but it happened this time. I don’t know if Shirley has to go, but being raised a Catholic I think a little penance is in order, maybe hand-washing Juan’s car weekly for a year?

  • Bill

    And Juan should be rehired. Definitely!!!

  • John

    If the firing were the result of a series of behavior and not just this one incident, why did NPR’s press release state otherwise?

    Late Wednesday night, 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.


  • Maureen Dryja

    I found Juan Williams wonderfully refreshing as a media person who could “straddle” both poles of our terribly divided politically culture. I feel that NPR was smug and very closed minded in firing him.

  • http://nancib.wordpress.com/ Peng Hardin

    Thank you, Ms. Shepard, for clarifying that this is the latest of a string of things that NPR management has had to talk to him about. That pretty much answers the one question I have this morning, but could you clarify whether NPR informed Mr. Williams that if he continued these type of behaviors he would be fired?

    The more I hear about this issue the more I think NPR was right firing him although I really wish it had been handled better. It’s giving people a reason to hate NPR rather than to admit that they work hard to give balanced and accurate reporting.

  • Roberto

    Juan may have been burning his bridge too long, but CEO “Shriller” is incapable as NPR’s leader.

    Another example (on top of her “keep it between your psychiatrist and your publicist”): I just heard the hourly news, and yet, NOWHERE on NPR’s main page is her apparent new “apology” to staff — how could you NOT get that posted BEFORE your own desk reports it on air?

    Time for the board to fully assess her capabilities to lead, and viewer/employee confidence in her. My contributions are on hold until there is a thorough review of her abilities to lead.

    PS to “Ann-NOT-the-one-in-VT”: I do intend to continue listening to NPR, just as I do Fox (occasionally — not very good…), CNN, CSPAN, etc — and read as many websites and newspapers as time and interest allows, b/c I want everyone’s views to MAKE UP MY OWN MIND.

    I support many of these to a degree with my subscriptions and eyeballs (they make money on that), but I can (perhaps naively) also get their attention by cancelling or withholding contributions. Sorry, that is the FREE MARKET… All too often, now, people get to powerful positions, make bad decisions and don’t expect ramifications; the average citizen is annoyed and now mobilizing to show their unhappiness with the status quo. I won’t hear Juan much now, b/c Fox is not big on my list — but I will try to find his reports on-line and see how he does presenting balanced information…

    That does not mean I will financially support non-profits or for-profits; there is too much free info out there on many sites, blogs, etc

  • Mike in PA

    What does Juan Williams’ contract say?

    Is he in breach of any specific contractual requirement to not appear on punditry shows?

    Are there stipulations in his contract that expressly limits his candor on punditry shows?

    If no, NPR is wrong to “fire” or “terminate” his contract.


  • http://www.TruthoftheMatter Dara

    Mr. William has either made his remark by design to gain publicity or he is stupid to think that a terrorist shows up in Arab clothing to advertise his identity. Have they caught anyone of them in Arab clothing?

  • Brian M.

    It’s funny/sad that the people who called for Shirley Sherrod to be fired are now saying that Juan Williams is another “Shirley Sherrod.”

    They do remember that Sherrod’s clip was edited (by Fox), taken out of context (by Fox) and led to her firing (by cowards).

    By contrast, the *more* of the Williams clip that you play, the more obvious it is that he’s playing the liberal patsy on Fox.

    There is nothing brave about going on Bill O’Reilly’s show and saying bigoted things about Muslims. Fox has been on a yearlong campaign to gin up Americans’ fears about Muslims. Williams is now getting another $2 million to be a cog in that machine.

    People defending the integrity of Williams should remind themselves that the man was collecting two paychecks and was fine with going to work for Fox full time.

    His lack of integrity speaks for itself.

  • Ken Ballou

    Why is there so much hand wringing over this? It was time long ago for Mr. Williams to decide whether he is a serious news analyst or an entertainer. He has made his choice, and he is certainly not suffering financially as a result. “Nothing to see here … move along, folks.”

  • DM

    “Consider me the first droplet of the flood that will follow.” – Faisal Shahzad

    Shahzad didn’t say anything about drops of blood. Is it too much to ask Williams to comment on things that actually happened?

  • buddhaclown

    NPR prides itself on striving to be neutral and objective, and often implicitly defines those in terms of having a balance between liberal and conservative perspectives on their shows. But isn’t that exactly the same philosophy that Juan Williams was championing by working for both Fox and NPR?

    Was Juan Williams fired for taking the notion of respecting both sides too seriously?

    If Fox news is an accurate and clear voice for the conservative worldview — not only in what they say, but in the manner in which they arrive at their conclusions — then wasn’t Juan Williams actually being the most “objective” by participating in discussion with them? (That is, again, if we defined ‘objective’ the way NPR usually does, “balanced perspectives on both sides of the debate”.)

    But if NPR insists that the way in which Fox news arrives at its conclusions is flawed, or not real news — and that this is the basis for objecting to Juan Williams working for them — then isn’t NPR essentially disagreeing with the conservative worldview to some extent?

    Put simply, if conservatives insist news is inescapably about bias and opinion, and that we shouldn’t hide from this fact but rather embrace it (since everyone is already biased anyway). And yet liberals insist that news should be rooted in the attempt to eliminate bias and opinion. Then isn’t NPR essentially taking the liberal side of the debate in all this?

    Perhaps the problem is that conservative and liberal worldviews give rise to different visions of what news even is.

  • Kevin

    I keep hearing that there have been all these other problems with Juan Williams and I’d like to hear what the guest is talking about.

  • Irie

    “Thoughtful and measured conversation…” is a very culturally biased measure to judge the quality of a conversations… though the point may valid in this case.

    If Williams all ready had an arrangement to work with Fox before he was hired by NPR, it’s completely uncalled for to fire him for having that arrangement.

    It is hypocritical and disingenuous to be so “outraged” and to say that this is adequate grounds for termination with no questions asked. All of the focus has been on a few soundbites rather than the totality of the entire situation.

    This was handled poorly. End of story. The problem with Fox is that they only have people with one perspective. It seems like NPR management is now the pot calling the kettle black. For shame NPR.

  • Greg

    It’s not a free speech issue, but NPR management’s action has chilled discourse at NPR. Watch your tone Mr. Ashbrook. Mrs. Shepherd’s tone just said it all. Watch yourself!

    I’ll take a show with a little interuption over one with silence.

  • GP

    Journalists do express their opinion, well supported by facts. I do not hold NPR responsible for its action. Firing of Juan Williams can find its grounds in the light of ideological differences between NPR and FOX news. Ideally, they are poles apart, first produces balanced and well put together conversations while other is into spoon feeding – bullying TV SHOWS for people.

  • ZK

    NPR presented this as Juan Williams being fired for his comments. Now that they’re being challenged and shown that his comments were taken out of context, it’s a “personnel issue” and a matter of talking in “the wrong forum”.
    I’m a big NPR listener, but can’t help but think that his right-wing opinions have blinded NPR’s objectivity.

  • Brian M.

    it’s also pathetic that a bunch of wingnuts are on this board pretending to be NPR “viewers.”

    they probably have no idea where their npr station is on the dial.

  • Brandstad

    If Juan would have offended Christian Tea Party Members, would he have been fired?

    This is truly the question that gets down to the brass tacks.

    If he would, then several other NPR journalists need fired right away. If not then he was wrongfully terminated by a biased organization that should not receive federal funds.

  • http://www.verissima.com Rob Cooper

    Juan Williams was ever genial on NPR, but often not thoughtful. To perceive Muslims wearing traditional garb on a plane as a threat is a clear example of not being thoughtful. An actual terrorist would do as the 9/11 terrorists did, i.e., attempt to look as western as possible. I will miss Mr. Williams pleasing on-air persona, but the kind of shallow analysis borne of this kind of reasoning.

  • John

    Often contract provisions that have never been enforced become unenforceable as the violation was not objected to by the party and is thus considered consent for nonperformance.

  • Hassan

    NPR was correct. I think Juan Williams is indeed a bigot. Furthermore the reaction from the conservative media is also bigotted. If he said I am uncomfortable with a jewish-dressed person on an airplane, and he was fired there wouldn’t have been a problem or mass-media uproar about the incident, it would have been expected that he be fired. The problem is that he was fired about making deragatory comments about Muslims, and that is acceptable on the conservative media.

  • http://notyet Charles A. Bowsher

    If you are agreeing with the firing of Juan Williams without actually having watched the full segment on O’Really then quite frankly, you need to shut up until you watch the whole segment. Otherwise you are speaking from a position anchored in ignorance, the same ignorance you allege you are railing against. Remember Shirley Sherod (sp?)? Three or four days ago I affirmed on this forum that I thought he should be fired. I was wrong, I did not have all the facts. NPR missed it on this one.

  • Leora

    I am no fan of Juan Williams and a huge fan of NPR but it is simply NOT TRUE that there is no yelling or heated discussion on NPR shows. Just on Friday on the wonderful “Tell Me More” with Michele Martin, she had to calm down the panel on the “Barbershop segment” because they were yelling. But it showed their passion. Also, there are “news analysts” that I love on NPR who I want to stay and who I want to be able to keep on speaking their minds.

  • Ren Knopf

    Outspoken, certainly; but that doesn’t excuse persistent judgement lapses of “what am I saying and where am I saying it.” First Amendment isn’t an issue here. Williams broke his role as an NPR reporter, IE: one who reports, when he a commentator – one who editorializes. He crossed that line and not for the first time. I’m sure that distinction will be lost on a majority of listeners and we’ll be hearing about everything but that.



    Touche!!! FYI: 45 yo women who went out on her own a the age of 18 – put myself through college and have held a variety of positions throughout the years including but not limited to Chemist – Bank Office Manager – Self-Employed Business Woman. And my most favorite – Wife & Mother for 18/15 years. Just the kind of female you love to hate I’m sure.

    Don’t like to be told you can’t spell for sh*it – get used to it. Here is a tip: use spell check and you won’t seem like such a dunce even if your opinions don’t pass the smell test.

  • Scott Browne

    Juan’s comments did not rise in any way to high crimes and misdemeanors. In fact, they were realistically fair and an expression of his fears and emotions.
    To fire Juan over these comments is censorship of the press. And we as government tax supporters of NPR radio, need to review NPR’s government largess.

  • Jeremy

    If Juan Williams was, as proclaimed by your NPR guest, a continuing problem, why would not NPR simply decline to renew his contract at the end of the previous term?

  • Chris Daly

    I’ve been saying to friends for years that Williams should be shown the door, so I am fully on NPR’s side here. It has nothing to do with his opinions (although I don’t much like them).

    It has everything to do with the low quality of his so-called journalism. He has been an embarassment to NPR’s journalistic standards from the time he was hired (…and his title of ‘analyst’ doesn’t excuse this).

    I’ll throw just one example out there.

    He did a 2002 interview with Karl Rove, a potential journalistic coup at the time. It was a soft-ball love-fest of unrivaled proportions. Larry King was probably appalled. It was an inexcusable waste of NPR’s air time (the full 22 minute interview is still available on line if you want to suffer through it yourself).

  • Matt M

    Thank you Tom for exploring this issue.

    Ms. Shepard’s explanation falls far short of a legitimate rational for Juan’s firing. How ironic that high-minded NPR justifies the move because the ‘tone’ of O’Reilly’s show is not of their liking.

    I often find that same phenomenon with my liberal friends – they are all for shouting one’s opinion from the rooftop, unless of course it is an opinion they themselves do not agree with. Sad really.

  • Valkyrie607

    I won’t miss Juan Williams at all. I’ve heard his comments on NPR years and was always unimpressed – not because he is a “moderate liberal,” whatever that is. I don’t believe that NPR is exhibiting any fascistic, censorious tendencies by firing Williams. What I want to know is why he wasn’t fired earlier.

    I would also like to know whether Alicia Shephard is still of the mind that “If the president says it’s not torture, it’s enhanced interrogation,” and why the firing of Juan Williams merits an appearance on On Point, while the controversy over NPR’s refusal to use the word “torture” when describing the activities of American troops or contractors did not.

  • Maureen Dryja

    I found Juan Williams wonderfully refreshing as a media person who could “straddle” both poles of our terribly divided political culture. I feel that NPR was smug and very closed minded in firing him.

  • Kevin

    I would like to have seen the QUOTE issue of Juan Williams ENDQUOTE covered on NPR as an issue in itself before and as part of the firing. And I’d like to see now NPR embrace the issue and the controversy after the firing by bringing on Juan Williams to interview him. This would put the controversy to rest by embracing it, laying out the issues on the table, engaging part of the source of the controversy, taking responsibility for the manner of the firing, and delineating the journalistic issues, many of which I’m sure Juan Williams will go on the record as agreeing with.


  • David

    This was an NPR issue. One thing you have not mentioned is the NPR policy which I heard read during the weekend.

    For Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrinch, and others, why are they calling for de-funding NPR? This is just another reason for them to rail against NPR.

    NPR as another commenter said is a great National Treasure. We need to add more money to NPR, not less.

  • Ed Agro

    I think it was one of Williams’s first runs on ToTN where his treatment of the Cuban Ambassador to the UN showed a reflexive and aggressive conservatism (at which the Ambassador rightly walked off the show). I wondered even then why NPR would hire such an unsophisticated and apparently closed-minded person. His reporting and punditry since then have been less than enlightening. I’m glad he’s gone.

  • Stan Bohall


    Thanks for this program and for continuing to challenge Ms. Shephard throughout the first segment about her decision to terminate Juan Williams’ contract. I assume that takes some courage on your part.

    I am a long-time NPR listener as well as a political conservative. Juan Williams’s dismissal comes across to me as limiting the freedom of speech. I’m glad this story “has legs.” I hope the story will continue in the media and ultimately influence future NPR decisions in the direction toward more conservative views in their programming.

  • Joe Kriegel

    Why this bashing of NPR? The fact that Williams had to show up on Fox and comment in a show that is so revolting and hateful like O’Reilly should be reason enough to fire him. No decent reports or commentators should be on this hate network that serves the ultra right. NPR stays for decent and honest reporting and you cannot find any of this on NPR. The Becks, O’Reilly’s & Co are not fit to stand in a democratic environment.

  • Brandstad


    Jews have never blown up airplanes so fearing Jews on planes would be irrational. Muslims on the other hand have blown up planes and they have promised to do it again.

  • Tammie Gardner

    At best if the firing was “necessary” then NPR exhibited extremely poor timing because of the intense nature of the subject. However, because of the firing, i can no longer use NPR as a standard of unbiased news reporting. My conservative friends say there is an ultra-liberal agenda on NPR and this just confirms their suspicions.

    Ron Williams was simply stating how he sometimes “feels” – hardly a reason for firing. And he was using himself as a means to illustrate a point very much “inline” with NPR’s point-of-view.

    And contrary to the PR ombudsman’s comment about the “heated” discussion being inappropriate … i have heard a few heated and rude discussions on NPR.

    Poorly done, NPR, poorly done.

  • Roberto

    SO, has Ms. Shriller” been officially “warned” about her mis-spoken comments and poor “rollout” of a management decision? These must be adverse to expectations of both a CEO and one in charge of a public journalistic and media outlet. Documenting the board’s “slap on the wrist” will encourage the public–especially those of us who question whether tax dollars should continue supporting this organization.

    2% or not, perhaps it is time for NPR to get off the public dole? I happen to enjoy listening to Cokie and Jack — but can anyone tell me that they are “neutral”??

  • michael

    Fox leaning to the right is an understatement,

    Tom you did it again having on such an parstian hack, spewing of course all the right-wing talking points.

    Mona is junk

  • Kent Penfield

    The ombudsman claims total impartiality for NPR on a show that I really enjoy, On Point, but nobody can claim that Tom Ashbrook is impartial. I’ve listened enough to hear him take both sides of all arguments for his show, but his liberal NPR bias is clear. No problem, just don’t claim otherwise. She is wrong about the firing.

  • dave

    NPR is one of the most biased sources I’ve ever heard. They basically have now come out publicly that the CURRENT leadership at NPR fires people who tell the truth. You should not have a publicly supported news organization which fires people for telling the truth.

    The relationship no longer works because Williams was not in-line with NPR’s political beliefs. NPR was fine when they were about rare music, but they are losing their usefulness more everyday. I hope the leadership, high, and low, can be removed in the coming decade.

    People yell at each other on THIS SHOW everyday. You don’t have to raise your decibel level, to be doing a sort of yelling.

    You can go on any Facebook blog about any subject, and see that 85% of NPR listeners are biased, just as biased as the person who fired Williams is biased. If this company gets any government support, it should not. Just because a bunch of listeners are offended to hear truth coming from Williams, doesn’t mean that he should just be fired in a mob rule sort of way.

    I think it is much better for the reporters to go on the record as to their personal beliefs. Then you know where they really stand, without having to wonder where their bias is. Their bias will always show up – just as it does on this show everyday – I would rather know this host’s beliefs as well – all the way down to what religion each one belongs to. All of this information would help people to become better informed about the news they receive. There should be a website dedicated to the biographies, and information (religious/ political beliefs) of each board member, reporter, writer, photographer, owner, etc… so that you know how to decipher the information you receive from every network, or other source.

    I hope this is the beginning of the end of the current form of NPR. I like the idea of NPR, and what NPR used to be, but I sure don’t want my money going to this current mess.

  • L. Woods

    Not being a Fox viewer, I was unaware that Juan Williams appeared there, an have no knowledge of anything he has said in Fox before this incident.

    My thought on hearing of this incident was the old proverb “He who sups with the Devil should carry a long spoon.” It appears that hanging around the toxic environment at Fox had its effect on Mr. Williams.

    What I would love to see now, but unfortunately won’t happen, if for Mr. Williams with his new Fox contract, to revert to his NPR persona, call out Fox for its shortcomings, and watch Fox’s cries of liberal censorship disappear as they boot him off their stage.

  • Mary Anne

    Enough of the polls. Enough of the punditry and analysis. I don’t want to hear which candidate is ahead or which one is gaining. Please stop the breathless reporting of horse races. I and many others want to know their positions on the issues.
    One of the most valuable pieces of reporting NPR has done lately was submitted by Scott Horstly (sp?) He followed Obama to backyard and broadcast events and listened to what attendees had to say in response to the president’ answers to thier questions. Horstly suggested that reporters were put off by an 8 minute response to a man’s question and felt that he needed to tighten it up into a sound bite. Yet when he spoke to the questioner, we learned that a sound bite response was not what he wanted. The questioner called for patience in the face of complex problems.
    More reporting like that of Horstly please. It really stood out.

  • John

    Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have appeared on O’Reilly too. Is that why NPR staff are banned from their rallies?

  • http://lizybee.wordpress.com Sweetman

    NPR P/C thugs speak softly and carry a big pink slip if their reporters and analysists step out of the gushy, mushy, better-than-everyon-because-we-try-to-appear-so-open-minded mode. She displays an incredible lack of insight. While I often found Mr. Williams grating, I appreciate his ability to elicit evocative debate.
    None of Ms. Shephard’s answers are holding up but you’d better keep your voice down, Tom, I personally would hate to lose you, but keep asking those pointed, difficult questions–this whole situation stinks.

  • Shelly Peterson

    Juan is not to the “Left”. He is a conservative! Mona is wrong.

    If he wants to be a news analyst, he can’t crossover and be on Fox as a commentator.

    Firing someone is never easy. This probably could have been handled better.

    Juan has been claiming to be the producer of the series Eyes on the Prize for years. He barely helped with the book that came out with the series. Robert Lavelle wrote the book.

  • Chauncey Wood

    Tom asks if this is a 1st Amendment issue. It is not. The 1st Amendment prohibits GOVERNMENT from passing any LAW which abridges the freedom of speech. NPR is not the government and has not passed any law.

    Tom asks if this is a fireable offense, without citing any employment law. If you really want the answer, consult an employment lawyer.

    I think the most important role of the media is to inform the public so the public can make its own decisions. NPR is the best media outlet I know serving that role. Fox opinion shows do not do that. They exist because they are entertainment and entertainment sells. Advertisers are willing to pay for ads because the public watches. By participating in the Fox opinion circus, Juan Williams has -for a long time – undermined the primary mission of NPR – to deliver facts in an unbiased manner so the public can make up its own mind.

  • Donna

    I listen to WNPR because of its objective, substantive reporting. I don’t listen to Fox News because it is biased-it’s not news. I don’t want to listen to an analyst that is so unobjective as to be Fox news. When you work for an agency or company you represent that agency on and off duty. Fox news does not uphold the public face of WNPR.

    My tax money going to WNPR is one of the best ways my tax money is spent.

  • Howard Kay

    Mona Charen (et al) allege that NPR has a “leftist viewpoint” or “bias.”

    I think it’s noteworthy that no one has defined exactly what “leftist viewpoint” or “leftiist [liberal] bias” means.

    Not only that, but the key question is, suppose you gave Charen (et al) transcripts of some NPR news stories, with the identifying markings (reporter, source, etc) removed; and also some *news* stories from Fox. Could these people distinguish between the 2 sources, and say reliably which story came from which source? I doubt it.

  • Mark

    A big problem that’s happening in this country now! We’re becoming a country of walls! Gated communities are an example! And a lot of people want this!! This is not the once great USA!!

  • Dave


    Since when is being open-minded and interested in all points of view the domain of the Left?! That’s ridiculous, and it perpetuates the notion that the Right is evil and backwards and every other pejorative that is hung on Conservatism. The problem with FOX, and the way it differs from NPR, is not that it is Right leaning, but that it is masquerading as a legitimate news and journalistic outlet. FOX cannot be compared with NPR or any true journalistic institution.

    Williams’ firing–while perhaps not handled well–seems perfectly in keeping with an institution trying to maintain its integrity, not trying to silence opposing views.

  • David

    I take objection to the comment that NPR caters to the left and has a left leaning focus.

    I don’t really consider my ‘liberal’ per se. I consider myself in the middle. However, others would label me as left/liberal.

    The big problem I find is the right/conservatives just keep yelling louder and louder and louder that NPR and CNN are left leaning and liberal.

    As I was reminded earlier this month, our constitution guarantees that ALL voices be heard no matter how insignificant or unpopular.

    Why is the right so driven to drown out all views but their own? Will these views hold up to intense scrutiny?

  • Kevin

    I wonder how many “final warning” Williams had been given.

  • Carla Trumper

    NPR is anything but a liberal think tank. I watch ABC Nightly News, and do NOT believe it leans to the left at all. NPR deals in facts not retoric and screaming opinions. If I want full fact information on a days story, I turn to NPR.
    Thank you Tom.
    Thank you NPR.

  • Brandstad

    You are right that there is a big difference between FOX and NPR News. NPR refuses to give fair discussion of opposition views while FOX encourages the discussion of non popular views. Which is more honest, I ask you?

  • aefman

    I agree that how the firing was handled was a deplorable lapse of professional courtesy, but I do believe he should have been fired and probably long before now – not just for the appearance on Fox that preceded his firing. My observation of Williams’ contribution as a NPR analyst for the past couple of years had too much personal opinion and not enough true analysis. And Fox is all about emotional, subjective, ideological inflammation.

  • Marsh Giguere

    One is tempted to ask, just how “liberal” Fox News’ policy with Jaun Williams “exercise of his free speech rights” will be.

  • Jill Ferguson

    If NPR has a problem with its contributors appearing on FOX, why wasn’t Mara Liasen also fired?


  • Cindy

    I am always surprised when conservatives and others say, as Mona Charen does, that FOX ‘leans’ to the right and that NPR leans to the left. What is not acknowledged is actual accuracy and thorough coverage . . . Any network ‘appears’ to lean left compared to the alternate reality that is FOX news!

  • Edward Burke

    For Jay Rosen: NPR devotees with working memories recall distinctly the results of the PEW RESEARCH CENTER FOR THE PEOPLE AND THE PRESS–The State of the News Media 2004/Project for Excellence in Journalism poll.
    Journalists at national and local news organizations are notably different from the general public in their ideology and attitudes toward political and social issues. Most national and local journalists, as well as a plurality of Americans (41%), describe themselves as political moderates. But news people – especially national journalists – are more liberal, and far less conservative, than the general public.
    About a third of national journalists (34%) and somewhat fewer local journalists (23%) describe themselves as liberals; that compares with 19% of the public. Just 7% of national news people and 12% of local journalists describe themselves as conservatives, compared with a third of all Americans.

  • Sue Leroux

    While others call NPR “left,” most of the time I view the network as tolerant, curious, civil, balanced. And that’s exactly why people both on the left and right criticize the programming. To me, that’s journalism at its best.

  • Nick B.

    BINGO! Professor Rosen, winner winner: “NPR journalists are required to avoid controversy. At FOX, the opposite is true.”

    Also, at Fox, in the process of creating controversy, their ‘journalists’ routinely lie, make things up, and create falsehoods which they call ‘facts’. Good job Jay Rosen.

  • Chandra

    One point that is getting lost in the whole argument about Juan Williams is the end of the whole conversation. The conversation ends with Williams asserting that he is an NPR employee. That is probably the biggest point of this whole episode, because tell me one organization in America that will agree to a quote like I am belong to this organization and I hate this particular group.

  • Brandstad

    CHRIS M,

    You have proved yourself to be far superior in your mind to other NPR listeners and very angry about something. Unlike Juan, you truly have some issues to discuss with your psychiatrist

  • Jennifer

    Juan Williams has been the perfect “token” pundit for Fox – black, conservative, and admittedly afraid of Muslims – and persecuted by NPR.

    It is an unfortunate straw that NPR has chosen to break the camel’s back – but the firing is far from politically correctness gone awry. That scenario would have NPR endlessly tolerating William’s violation of their ethics code precisely BECAUSE he is black and conservative and afraid of Muslims – the perfect “token” analyst for NPR.

  • Ross

    I listen to NPR & Fox to get different views. Jaun did a great job of bringing a liberal viewpoint to a conservative forum. NPR’s lack of tolerance who’s demographic is about tolerance smacks of hypocrisy. NPR has shown it’s true colors as liberal elite. They are as intolerant as conservatives are portrayed.

  • Cy

    I’m very happy NPR fired him, in fact I would have preferred NPR fire him or give him an ultimatum about going on fox channel. He is either a lying hypocrite or just not very intelligent.
    First, he is a black man who is stereotyping other people based on what a very small number within group have done. I’m sure he complains regularly about being stereotyped by police or others because he is a black man in America.
    Second, he states that people in Muslim garb scare him. I would like to point out, “ALL” of the terrorists on 9/11 dressed in western garb. His comment shows how simple he is to believe that a terrorists wouldn’t dress in western clothes in order to blend in. His ideas and intelligence are tailor made for fox news and its ignorant audience.
    Here is a crazy fact, these terrorists have killed a whole lot more “Muslims” and middle easterner’s than anyone else. In fact, bush’s illegal war in Iraq has killed more civilians. Yet middle easterner’s, even the ones that were born here in the United States are called terrorists. The whole thing makes me sick and by the way I’m not Muslim so I’m not saying this for my own benefit. I apologize about this long rant by the way…

  • Phillip Morgan

    Journalists who allow themselves to be trotted out by Fox as liberal voices in a demonstration of being fair and balanced demean themselves and any any other news organization with which they are affiliated. I’m amazed that NPR would have allowed themselves to be tainted by Juan Williams’s Fox connection in the first place. I trust NPRs decision to fire Williams, but agree that they handled the situation very poorly. In that sense, this does bear a resemblance to the Shirley Sherrod case, where a decision was hastily made for the appearance of decisiveness. Fortunately, in this case, it was ultimately the correct decision.

  • Tom


    FOX news was started by Roger Ailes who worked for Ronald Reagan when he was governor of California and President. Before FOX News was there ever a television network that was started by a political party?

  • tom

    I agree that Juan Williams went too far. As a journalist, he needs to maintain certain standards. His former colleague, Jim Lehrer, is a good model. He keeps his personal opinions out of the public domain. In fact, he doesn’t even vote. As a listener of NPR, I don’t want to know what the journalists think. I want them to get me the news, great stories, and I want them to be as objective as possible.

  • Kevin

    Williams succumbed to the lure of money. FOX pays those willing to follow their natative very well. Williams tried to be the objective newsman at NPR and play actor at FOX.

    It’s interesting that NPR won’t employ the kind of “reporters” FOX promotes.

  • Paul Martin

    So you want to have a reasonable discussion of this issue, and you book Mona Charen?

    Mona Charen, who still accuses American liberals of being Communists and who calls them “useful idiots”?

    She is going to lecture *us* on balance and tolerance?

    Give. Me. A. Break.

  • Ellen Dibble

    If the “right” is the party of no, then we have become a nation with no splits whatsoever. Maybe Fox gets higher ratings by upping the resentment, by feeding on controversy, whereas NPR approaches controversy as a topic in itself. But the question of liberal/conservative is becoming moot.
    Has anybody noticed? The issue of addressing entitlements and the need to re-establish fiscal stability in order to keep a viable place in the world — that is not left/right. How one is allowed to say those things vary. But from what I can tell, the campaign money flows to both right and left candidates, so the plutocracy doesn’t see a difference. Why should we?

  • Roberto

    IDEA! How bout just “NR” and take the “public” out of it? Surely with such a strong audience, “Just NR” can make up the difference, no sweat. (Those “sponsorships” BTW are really “ads” but don’t tell CEO Shriller…)



    Maybe in your feeble little narrow mind, but most who know me feel I am kind, loving, and a regular joe.

    You, from what I can gather from your posts, are a jerk and pride yourself on this. Maybe a session with your therapist will help you get over this character flaw.

  • Colin Robinson

    It is my view that Fox set up NPR by baiting Williams into crossing the line, knowing that he’d be fired as a result, thereby creating the opportunity for the right-wing demagogues to vilify NPR. It is no coincidence that the very day he was fired Fox offered him a fat contract. NPR fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. It should have just insisted that he make a choice– stay with NPR and bide by its journalistic standards, including quitting Fox, or go with Fox.

  • Joe Kriegel

    There would not even be a discussion on Fox of this kind because Fox censor’s every voice not in agreement with the hate network. The right has made NPR a target for years and it would only be in their interest to quiet NPR down, so the only voice on air are hate. NPR is pretty much in the middle and I can state this because my opinion is much more to the left. Go on NPR, this is the last source of news and information without a bad right wing republican taste!

  • http://everydaydissidence.blogspot.com/ Morgan Tyree

    NPR made the following statement following Williams’ termination, “…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.” Translation: If your career is that of a news analyst, that pretty much means you’re about as objective as they come, so you shouldn’t be out there expressing opinions in any public forums—especially on one of the most opinionated shows in the country.

    And I thought Daniel Schorr lived a long life, but now I’m thinking he didn’t live long enough in having the opportunity to chime in on this little drama.

  • MT

    The idea of “liberal media bias” is a lie. Corporate bias, yes, liberal bias, no. Simply a right wingnut delusion. Look at the facts Mona. Few things anger me more than to hear this false claim spewed over and over again by ignorant conservatives who didn’t do their homework.



  • Dave

    @Howard Kay

    I bet I could tell the difference.

  • Adam

    I think it is disingenuous to say tat Jaun Williams was an analysis on Fox, he was a token left leaning voice to be beat up like Alan Comes. He was just a straight man to set up Fox talking head’s next rant or attack. As such his role as a serious analyst on NPR was damaged. That said, the decision maker at NPR failed to handle this in an effective way and served to just give those that would seek to harm this valuable news institution.

  • Rick Evans

    Clarence and Ginny Thomas would like to extend their profound thanks to Vivian Schiller and Juan Williams for sweeping the Thomases off the headlines.

    By allowing herself to be Sherroded by an echo chamber of liberal bloggers amateurishly using right wing drive by tactics Ms. Schiller tossed Williams under the bus and allowed the Thomases to get away with a hit and run fender bender on Anita Hill. Imagine all the talk we would be having about Clarence Thomas’s ex-girlfriend coming forward and telling about his obsession for porno.

    The associate justice is grinning ear to ear.

  • Charles Lamb

    Unfortunately, NPR’s shifting explanations for Juan Williams’ firing suggest that they are scrambling after the fact to justify their actions. His comments were beyond the pale (and best left to a psychiatrist’s couch) … no, it was that he was expressing any opinions at all … no, it was that the O’Reilly show is too argumentative. At this point, I think NPR should stop trying to justify or explain the decision, because it just makes NPR look worse. You can’t reconcile their latest statements with their continued tolerance of Nina Totenberg’s intemperate remarks re: Jesse Helms.

  • Ellen Dibble

    What if Juan had phrased it “One might get nervous seeing someone, especially at an airport, dressed to make a big statement about being Islamic”?
    Then followed up with all his points.

  • Nick B.

    Good job, Cy. I’m glad Williams is gone. When I first started listening to NPR I used to confuse him with Juan Cole, and was greatly disappointed when Mr. Williams would roll out his analysis. I thought ‘Wait, this isn’t the intelligent, thoughtful analysis I heard that time, this is some other guy named Juan.’ I didn’t think Juan Williams was liberal or left leaning at all. I just thought he was lame.

  • Leah Vecchione

    Yes, NPR did the right thing. Bigotry should not be tolerated, even if it is “what people are saying.” This is in NO way like the Shirley Sherrod case, which was based on a smear campaign.

  • William Maher

    What is the problem here? Political correctness(Lying through your teeth because you can’t handle the truth) is part of the ingrained DNA of the lefty socialists–whether NPR lefty socialists or MoveOn.org lefty socialists? Juan Williams cleary broke the NPR rules: Don’t tell us what you truly believe–lie to us and tell us what you don’t believe(Political Correctness is of primacy!!!!!); that surely is the approach that the lefties believe is intelligent, no?. It’s appalling that I’m forced at gunpoint to pay for this “unbiased” government-run radio program. But then again, the lefties are never too proud to take another welfare check, no matter the magnitude of the conflict-of-interest. NPR claims it’s government welfare check is quite small. Well, if it is quite small, why is NPR taking this tainted money? If they were getting small money from the mafia, would they make the same defense?

  • Sam Kopper

    Thanks to the ombudsman’s comments, I better understand and now agree with NPR’s decision to release Mr. Williams; however, this whole affair exposes a glaring contradiction in modern American social/media conversation. Bottom line – both the yelling culture and the “don’t touch this” politically correct, overly sensitive verbal apartheidist are preventing critically needed American conversation. On the one hand, we have people screaming at each other and this seems to be not just accepted by many Americans, it is attractive to huge numbers of people (ARB People Meter ratings). Yet, on the other side, the media, the political establishment, and many “interest groups” totally censor certain views. The firing of Helen Thomas was caused by some Jews and all Zionists being offended. That Cuban American (forget his name) was excoriated for stating his (fairly well-founded) views. And now, Juan. I’m a financial supporter of the Arab American Anti-Discrmination Committee, BUT, I WILL admit, when I’m on an airplane and a person who “looks Arab” walks on board, THE thought, NOT a good or admirable thought, DOES cross my mind. I dismiss it quickly because I know it’s ignorant; but I briefly thought it. It’s so common – if you speak a true feeling, whether or not it’s an admirable one, if it offends some interest group, we shut ‘em down. The First Amendment is not to protect popular ideas…

  • Nay

    Dear Juan,

    A public newsdesk is not the appropriate place to air and discuss your private feelings. Save it for your friends and family. Report the news, not make the news.


  • Samuel Johnson

    I think NPR did the wrong thing in their rush to fire Juan Williams. My friends identify me as a “liberal”, perhaps because I believe in respecting diversity. I do not think Juan Williams’ statement was extreme – it was more of an honest confession, made in the context of speaking AGAINST prejudice and stereotyping. NPR now joins ranks with the USDA in their firing of Shirley Sherrod! It would have been better to use the incident to publicly discuss the issues, rather than to fire him and make THAT the news of the day!

  • Roberto

    Ok time for a topic switch — Juan is getting stale and we are beating a dead horse.

    Tom, how about we ask your guests to move to the root of Juan’s comments: can the we do a quick review of the Wars (Iraq, Pak, Afghan, byut maybe even using US arms, forces or just plain old DOD or USAid dollars in Sudan, Iran, Middle East where carnage occurs daily as well?)?

    What is in store as we head into the winter season, militarily? How is US protecting its borders as well as prime targets for home-grown terrorists? Are candidates for public office addressing those critical issues, and if so, what are their formulae for “success”?

  • Jim

    Should not have been a firing offense.

    Having said that, I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say that Williams and Fox orchestrated this, but I think Williams was being intentionally confrontational in a disingenuous way. If he truly feels afraid when he sees people in Muslim garb (which I actually sort of doubt), it is a sad commentary on him and on where we have arrived as a society. The last time I checked, the 9/11 terrorists were not wearing Muslim garb.

    Also, O’Reilly used one of his classic ‘framing effects’ lines when he kept shouting he was no longer going to be cowed and be afraid to say what he thought was truthful about Muslims. Since when has O’Reilly ever been afraid to say what he wanted, however incorrect and ill-informed? It’s the classic Fox trick of framing the debate in a completely misleading way, but in a way that most people fail to appreciate.

  • Jeanne Astor

    I didn’t find it offensive that Juan Williams admitted to uneasiness when he sees people in Muslim garb on his plane. I did find it offensive, however, that he seemed to be sharing his wariness just to make nice with Bill O’Reilly. Perhaps NPR was precipitate in firing Mr. Williams, but perhaps they too gagged at the sight of him seeming to be ingratiate himself with a bigot.

  • Steve Rose

    Listening now and would like to hear the ombudsman address the point that Nina Tottenburg and Kokie Roberts regularly (esp. the former) make highly ideological (left leaning) points, often expressly partisan democratic points on other shows.
    BTW, of course NPR is left leaning.

  • Todd

    2 million dollars for 3 year contract — why has the speaker, Tom Ashbrook, now mentioned that figure *four* times, in less than 40 minutes.

    Does he reveal how much Simon made on their adoption book, plugged shamelessly on air?

    It suggests somehow that Juan is not “above” money, like NPR personalities seem to want to cast themselves as being?

    Why are they keep casting him as some how “money hungry” — they, NPR, were the ones who fired him, triggering the offer, in the first place!

  • Bruce Raisner

    Will the NPR omnibudsman quote what NPR rules Juan Williams actually broke?

  • sarah

    Sometimes the confluence of two different stories in the news is interesting… Like this 1991 story from the NYT which connects last weeks stories about Juan Williams and Ginni & Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill.


  • Constantinos

    For a person of liberal ideas that from time to time was outraged when listening to Juan Willians on and off NPR I’m even more outraged at the hypocrisy of the NPR suits when trying to explain his firing. Shame on them – somehow double standards is not simply the domain of Fox. Pharisees!

  • Brandstad

    CHRIS M,

    As a well educated political activist that enjoys being the thought and spelling police, you might do more of the later than the former since as a wise woman once said, “you can’t spell worth ….”

    I think I caught the pot calling the kettle black… LOL

  • David Cook

    I have not been a huge fan of Juan Williams, but my concerns about his firing have been further raised by Alicia Shepard’s comments. I’m finding out things about NPRs philosophy that I was not aware of as a listener and contributor. It sounds that in Ms. Shepard’s world civility is in the domain of liberal progressive thought. If so, why not share the civility and raise the bar of discussion by engaging conservatives as Juan Williams has done? A secondary, but important point: Ms. Shepard sounds like the spokesperson for NPR NOT an ombudsperson. I am stunned by the antipathy that comes through in her comments to the point of warning Tom Ashbrook with her tone. I hope this is not the standard for ombudsmen in the world or that entire project seems suspect. I think she should look for another line of work and NPR should reconsider their decision and at the very least apologize.

  • Ellen Dibble

    A parent will explain to a child, or a considerate adult to some hater-type teenagers, that “I feel this or that,” and then follow up with how one learns to deal with, moderate, contextualize that feeling.
    It is a way of taking the flak to oneself. It lets the other (in this case O’Reilly) hear the truth without being targeted.

  • jim klein

    CAIR and Soros call the shots at NPR.

  • Larry

    Why does your guest feel that NPR needs to tell the public the reasons for firing anyone? Personnel situations are not for public consumption.


    later does not equal latter

  • http://terrence@terrafirmalnadarch.com terrence parker

    the fact that Juan Willimas is scared of Muslim’s in their traditional clothes shows how wrong he is, in that the likiness of a terrorist wearing such clothes is very low………so his personal opinions are flawed.

  • Marion Olson

    The notion that FoxNews represents news, as opposed to political entertainment, is absurd.

    NPR has – in my liberal opinion – tied itself in knots by attempting to present the kind of “fair and balanced” views that Fox has claimed for its own. The elevation of a ridiculous ultra-conservative viewpoint to counter a factual but acknowledged liberal perspective has only served to give credibility to some of the least factual conservative talking points.

    Juan Williams presence on both NPR and FoxNews has been puzzling for some time. His firing might have been handled better, but it seems that it was overdue.

  • Patrick Durkan

    Juan Williams aside, Ms. Schiller has done much to harm NPR in this affair. She showed poor executive judgment.
    In the Williams firing Ms. Schiller showed herself to be as rude and arrogant as any Fox personality. Then she apologizes for speaking “hastily”, which appeared to be the reason Williams was fired.

    NPR is supposed to really be” fair and balanced.” Nothing in this affair would support that. Ms. Schiller has given the conservatives who mock the network everything they need to dismiss NPR as liberal and biased. She has done something I did not think was possible – make Bill O’Rielly seem reasonable. I tuned in WBZ radio last week for a traffic report and listened to the host and every caller talk about NPR’s hypocrisy for about twenty minutes until I just couldn’t stand it anymore. She has not only hurt the network, but a week and a half before a crucial election given conservatives one more reason to dismiss “the liberal agenda” and discouraged liberals one more reason to stay home.

    I was going to write NPR to protest their unreasonable and basically stupid decision forbidding anyone from attending Jon Stewart’s rally. Yes, you really don’t want to be associated in any way with a “Rally to Restore Sanity”. Does management know Stewart is a comedian? Sadly, because of things like this I’m beginning to think The Daily Show is my only reasonable source for news.
    If Ms. Schiller cares about NPR she should resign.

  • tony p

    Careful Tom, you may be next!

    Ombudsman, no credibility. Wrong Forum??? Who is NPR to dictate the proper Forum. Ron ventured into a popular forum and actually added intellectual credibility to NPR in the eyes of the masses… NPR canned their best advocate for a wider audience.

    Conflict for NPR, then why hire him when already affiliated with FOX. Agree, both were in untenable situation and doomed to divorce. Not Ron’s fault.

    Sounds as though NPR wants to control all aspects of their talking heads lives, their affiliations, and opinions to see that they are in line with the NPR party….

    TOM, watch out! We love you!

  • Paul

    If Mona Charen is going to tell us what an “interesting” liberal is, can I get to decide which conservatives should be employed at Fox?

    Let’s get real here. Williams was a terribly boring commentator, and he routinely used his NPR credential to get airtime at Fox where he agreed with Fox’s agenda.

    It’s also funny that conservatives are rushing to defend Mara Liasson and Cokie Roberts as “liberals.”

    When was the last time Mara did a story that wasn’t “OMG – this is suuuuuch good news for the GOP!!!!” or when Cokie Roberts wasn’t repeating her “Obama’s too lefty and a big failure and I miss W” commentary?

  • frieda

    Juan’s only problem: He tried to wrestle with a pig. Shouldna done it: the pig loves it and you get real muddy. FOX is wily. They and the Repubs want to bring NPR down. No more pig wrestling. The person who fired Juan should be fired–total mismanagement. Sounds like the ombudsman wants more right-wingers on NPR. Stick to the middle, NPR. We don’t need your views, right or left (and you’re already way too right for my tastes). We need to hear views from both sides, in your impartial, fair forum.

  • Mike

    Two Points:
    1. This is about ‘brand’ and ‘voice.’ Juan has been changing his personal brand in a direction that is inconsistent with the NRP brand. I can hear him working on his high volume, bombastic, combative voice, which doesn’t fit the NRP brand. NPR has to protect it’s brand image: in-depth, well-informed, high ground journalism, broad representative of perspectives, a calm rational tone. NPR had to act.
    2. If NPR had not been fired, it’s likely we still would hear outrage and accusations of hypocrisy from the right.

  • John Maddock


    Why is it not workable for Juan Williams to appear on Fox, but Nina Totenberg can and does appear on the McLaughlin Group, one of the media’s original shoutfests? There’s a serious double standard in that position on the part of Ms. Shepard and NPR, and now the entire show ends without her ever having to explain this.

  • CJ

    The Constitution guarantees you a right to freedom of speech. It does not guarantee you a right to a job on NPR or anywhere else. When you enter into an employement contract that includes standards of conduct, you have the right to breach those standards but must also live with the consequences. Here, his employer felt that Juan Williams had breached the terms of his contract exercised its right to terminate him.

  • Tom

    Hi Tom,

    Juan Williams did not just express an opinion, because he is a news reporter his opinion and they were on an inflammatory show that made his words sound like racial profiling. If he had reported on a someone in the public expressing these feelings he would have broadcast his viewpoint without a bias. We are dealing with the finest level of feelings here on a sensitive subject.

  • Dave

    You asked the question if we want to know what news analysts and reporters think. No. I don’t want to know; I don’t need to know; and, in fact, knowing gets in the way of my ability to trust that what I’m being told is unbiased. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the information is unbiased, but if I think it is, I’m going to turn it off.

    Sometimes I want to hear opinions and perspectives, and sometimes I want to hear objective facts. I don’t need to have trust in the person who relates their opinion. I do need to have trust in the person who is relating the facts.

  • Brandstad

    CAIR is a suspected terrorist support group that deserves a publid investigation. Without an investigation, it should get no support, mention, or open ear.

  • Denise Foster

    I was very disappointed in today’s “On Point.” This was not supposed to be a discussion of the FOX format, instead it was to be a discussion of NPR’s decision.

    As a retired journalist, editor, and newspaper owner, I feel that unless one knows exactly what NPR’s ethics code says, it is not possible to say whether the firing of Juan Williams was justified. Williams was a news analyst at NPR, not a journalist. Everyone who listens to the news is an analyst and interjects his/her own bias. Thus, when Williams was making his analyses on NPR, he was doing nothing more than interpreting the news using his own bias.

    As for whether or not NPR has a liberal slant, my observation is most definitely it does. As a liberal it very easy to recognize this slant and perhaps NPR’s ombudsman needs to open her eyes to this fact. Seldom does NPR offer up any real conservative guests. Why not? Regardless of my own political position, I am always interested in hearing other POVs because I usually learn something new.

  • John

    How much of NPR donations are wasted on the Ombudsman’s office?

  • Roberto

    whoa! just checked, and still no posting of CEO Shriller’s apology to staff on main web site…

    Tom, is someone on your staff reading our comments? Am curious to know how this did not get “posted” yet…

  • Michael Rake

    It is clear our country has a cultural divide that is worsening. It is also clear to me that, while Fox is not ashamed to tilt right, NPR has the nerve to hang with the white liberal left and put up a pretense of objectivity and fact-based reporting, all the while accepting massive donations from one of the most outspoken liberals in the world. The answers of the NPR ombudsman to Tom’s pressing questions are convoluted attempts to change the subject. And, what right does NPR have to dictate what is a “proper forum” for debate? I think Tom knows that Juan’s point of view is probably the most honest and most beneficial, and that he is real hero for journalistic integrity here.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Remember how the CIA operative was “outed”? in re the yellow cake out of Africa at the lead-up to the Iraq war? If Alicia Shepard’s circling of the tents such that NPR journalists are ALWAYS objective, never with a personal take — there you have the risk of being outed.

  • Dave

    Well said, Frieda!

  • Arturo

    Besides Juan Williams’s contradictions (e.g., “I am a bigot because I fear people in Muslim garb boarding my flight. . .” as terrorist love to be identified when they are going to act), and NPR’s extremely poor handling of the situation (it sounds more like a tantrum than an administrative decision), there seems to be a more serious problem at stake.

    The point I have in mind relates to the content of media performances. Rather than promoting political debate and controversy, are not Fox News night bloc a political vaudeville aiming at representation dramatic performances. Did not Juan Williams fall into the trap of paroding himself (i.e., representing) as the ‘liberal honest commentator in the lion’s den of mean rightwing bullies’? Could it be that Mr. Williams’s a dramatic performance was aiming at playing the role of the honest journalistic hero?

    Part of the current cultural crisis seems to the boil down to the fact that American politics has been largely transformed into show business and fiction. I miss authenticity, a state of mind largely fallen out of fashion.

  • Valkyrie607

    Nobody should exclude opinion. But Fox needs to make it more clear what’s news and what’s opinion. Millions of people believe that Saddam Hussein had WMD, thanks to “opinion” on Fox which is regularly mistaken for “news” by their viewers.

  • Steve

    Great show Tom. Bottomline…I see no problem letting Juan go. I have not been impressed with the times I’ve “seen him” on TV (yes, not on NPR). Mr. Ashbrook…this is an example of a great show…as is Charlie Rose on PBS.

    1.Unfortunately, the right wing has been using this to deflect arguments and attention from their empty programs in an election year.

    2. Narrowmindedness of NPR…EXTREME conservatives invented narrow minded policies.

    3. I think the Tom Ashbrook On-Point program is an excellent example of a program that brings out both conservative and liberal views without labels. Good conversation.

    4. I do not understand why NPR would be required to provide a list of problems to conservatives they had with Juan. Yes, they should document it for presentation in any legal proceedings Juan wants to bring. If he feels so strong about it, he should.

    5. NPR should do what they need to do within their guidelines with NO explanation to LOUD whinning conservatives who have no substantial answers to the issues of the day.

    6. I am thinking of making a contribution to the righ wingers…I will give them a broom stick…so they can prove they are not a witch.

  • David Martin

    I don’t care if NPR’s firing of Jaun Williams owas a good idea or not. He was not a particularly interesting, stimulative or accurate commentator on NPR, but I hope On Point will move on to more interesting topics. What a waste of an hour show!

  • Landon Gamble

    There is a need for objective dialogue. The finest credit of NPR is their objectivity. The fact that they are reporting this subject is great depth is a testament to that objectivity. We are adults who are deserve to access to facts and are mature enough to make our own opinions. I don’t want to be fed others.

  • Roberto

    Hey, Tony et al: it’s “Juan” not Ron…

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Good show Tom.

  • maureen

    The media doesn’t matter anymore . We get the “real” news from the computer .

  • Jim Tull

    Tom Ashbrook:
    Great inquiry on the show – as always. Why not have Juan Williams as a guest on this show???

    However, his feelings and opinions do not seem to (and I think should not) be the issue of this discussion. The issue is NPR’s role in today’s environment.

    There seem to be three roles for NPR here:

    1) NPR as an employer – OK, they can fire any employee

    2) NPR as an objective voice – the way they handled this (not the decision itself) leaves them WAY open to legitimate criticisms from opponents

    3) NPR as a public voice – NPR is failing here.
    This is NOT just about their opinion, but HOW PUBLIC FIGURES AND JOURNALISTS MUST LEARN HOW TO MODEL THE NEW SKILLS WE NEED IN AMERICA TO TALK ABOUT DISAGREEMENTS POST 9/11 (e.g. more inquiry, more attempts to understand before judging).

    Right now, Fox News is doing a great job on a bad model: shouting as our main skill in disagreements. Juan Williams was doing a sloppy job of presenting an alternative model on Fox, but at least he was trying. Could NPR try harder to model good skills on-air, and also as an employer?

    My continued financial support of our wonderful local NPR station may depend on how they do this.

  • Theodora

    Of all the news of last week, this should be a footnote. You are navel gazing. The big news for me is Clarence Thomas and the confirmation that on 5-4 decisions we have a perjurer on the US Supreme Court. You have fallen into the Republican FOX trap of changing the subject. Who impacts our lives more directly … Juan Williams or Clarence Thomas? Look at the hours spent on each story … I am so discouraged.

  • Steve Banko

    In a world that is over-communicated and under-informed, we need less opinion and more objectivity. In that context, I care little for what Williams thinks and would like to know more about what he knows. The Right has co-opted opinionated “reporting” so we need little more coming from assumed objective reporters.

    More to the point, Williams is not just wrong, but hypocritically wrong. I live in a city beset by gun violence on an almost nightly basis. The overwhelming majority f that violence is perpetrated by young African-Americans. The targets of hat violence, of course, re other African-Americans. But what if I were a commentator who said that I became fearful for my safety each time an African-American male got on a bus? How loud and outraged would the rejoinders be? Williams said hat he said for effect. He is now where he belongs – on a station that cares little for fact.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Hey Mona: it’s a well-known fact that truth has a liberal bias.

  • tom f

    Great journalism demands that the journalist withhold his personal opinions from the public domain. I want great news stories, presented objectively. I don’t care about the journalists religious views. I don’t want to know them.

  • mary shapiro

    NPR made 3 mistakes:
    1- Blacks, Latina, Muslims all say that the first step to being able to talk about race relations and make meaningful movement forward is being ready to admit your own bias and stereotypes. There is nothing more chilling than to say “I’m not bigoted but…” NPR is punishing Williams for taking that first step.

    2- Given the 1000s of media outlets, one of the reasons this country is so polarized is that each of us can now select media that does nothing but reinforce our preconceived ideas. There should be MORE collaboration between liberal and conservative media so people hear different positions. NPR is shutting this down.

    3- You spoke about transparency. By sharing his feelings, Williams was allowing us listeners to put any of his ideas into the context of who he is and what he believes. We would ALL benefit if Beck reminded us that he believes all non-Christians were going to hell when they died, or if Limbaugh reminded us that he believes homosexuality is wrong. Those personal attitudes would help their listeners decide how much to align themselves (yes, all non-Christians are going to hell) with their “news” positions.

  • BHA

    Frankly, Mona Charen has never impressed me as an analyst.

    Clearly she is very conservative (and she said so on this program). Everything she writes is very unbalanced. There is no attempt to see even a small amount of ‘the other side’ of any issue. She must hang with Limbaugh and Palin.

  • ThresherK

    Did the ombud actually say that Fox’s punditry begins at 7pm? She is being far too fair and balanced.

    The easy way to tell which part of Fox’s day you’re watching:

    Fox punditry is “I think Obama got Juan Williams fired from NPR…” and Fox news is “Some people are saying Obama got Juan Williams fired from NPR…”

    I haven’t heard the whole show yet, but Jay Rosen is a straight-down-the-middle journalist and Mona Charen is a conservative. Can’t a liberal have been found for this panel, someone who would be as reliably left-wing as Charen is right-wing?

  • BHA

    Along with the above, I think Juan Williams did a better job of news analysis.

    It will be interesting to see if he shifts far right with the permanent job at Fox or brings a small amount of “there are people who do not agree with the conservative right living in this country” balance.

  • George Potts

    No NPR will be permitted to defend Juan Williams or they will be FIRED.

    NPR has Donald Trump on retainer.

    What a lost disappointment NPR has become. They have become a victim of group think.

  • Steve Makl

    I agree that every business has the right to fire people for straying from established policy. Even manufacturing has rules of what people can say. It was handled poorly, but giving opinion on Fox “News” (no resemblence to news) would appear to violate those rules as NPR has identified them. It probably should have been stopped or he warned earlier.

    I would prefer my NEWS to come completely unbiased. Thorough robots would be best although boring. NPR makes an honest effort to be unbiased. Fox doesn’t even stop at telling untruths.

    I expect that if Juan attacks someone like Palin or Newt or the Bushes, Fox won’t keep him either. And they are supposedly taking the high road. What a joke!

  • Ruth

    I listen to NPR to hear the whole story based on facts not opinion. Fox offers only opinion and only the rights opinion. History has shown that people who scream loudest for 1st amendment right are the first ones who deny people those very rights because they don’t like what is being said.

  • Matt M

    I find it amusing how so many posters align themselves with NPR, but go to great lengths to claim that neither leans to the left. Why do conservatives wear their political colors like a badge of honor and liberals hide behind theirs like a disease?

    The lady doth protest too much, me thinks!

  • Marc

    It’s sad that something as mild as what Juan said caused such a stir and resulted in so many people calling him a racist, hate-monger, whatever. Imagine what NPR (or other left leaning media) would do to people who criticize blacks, Hispanics, Israel, gays or other groups. Probably, they’d give the same treatment that Beck would give those who criticize whites or Christians.

    I’ve always translated the phrase “we need a dialog on something” to mean “those who disagree with us must admit their guilt so we can talk about how they should be fixed”.

  • ThresherK

    What a lost disappointment NPR has become. They have become a victim of group think.

    Group think? I hope you never tune in to the Dittoheads or Faux News, else your head will explode.

  • Roberto

    SO now I am confused; went to npr.org, and it says NO direct fed aid — NPR broadcasters have been saying “2%” the last few days. MEMBER stations’ financials indicate they receive 5.8% from Government. Can someone set the record straight? And what is the source of “CPB” funds — which provide another 10+% of member station revs.

  • Frank Vitale

    Juan deserved to be fired! As a news analyst he crossed the line by expressing his own opinion in a commentator role on Fox News. News analysts should be unbiased, fair and use the facts in their analyses and not offer their own opinions if they are to remain credible in their reporting roles.
    If Juan wants to express his own opinion – he needs to remain a commentator with Fox News. I don’t think a news analyst should appear both as an analyst and commentator – and still preserve their integrity for unbiased reporting.
    On the other hand, if Juan really believes in unbiased and fair reporting of the news – how could he ever accept a contract with Fox News? I can only deduct from this that he wants to be a full time commentator, make big bucks and be used to create more controversial talk on Fox News.

  • Paul Horn

    Remember Walter Cronkite’s famous comment about the futility of the Vietnam war during one of his news broadcasts (prompting LBJ to say that if he “had lost Cronkite,” then he’d “lost the American people,” (or “the war”–I’m paraphrasing. Did he violate some standard of professional journalism when he voiced that opinion? I don’t recall his being criticized for it within the professional (as opposed to the political) realm.

  • mary elizabeth

    Hearing Juan Williams comments re: “feeling nervous” made me nervous. It was a HUGE public indictment of Muslims across the board-not some little confession around the kitchen table- most likely to salve the O”Reilly ego before going on to the larger issue. This is a common ploy used by Williams. Too bad, however, that NPR chose to deal with the long-standing Williams controversy so unprofessionally.
    If someone, entrusted with a voice on the public airways,cannot get his point across without resorting to careless fear mongering , then Fox is the place for him or her. To impune NPR for attempting and most often succeeding, to avoid such is absurd.
    Hard to believe, but there are millions of Americans looking for in-depth, balanced news. With 90% of talk radio right wing, Fox extremism, MSNBC extremism, and local MSM dealing in sound bites, there is little choice.
    NPR is the closest thing we have by which to make informed decisions. It is hardly “liberal” to hear all sides, though for conservatives like Mona, anything left of right wing is “liberal”
    Let’s not let the right propagandize this issue. They have found another piece of red meat.

  • Don Q. Public

    In my opinion, the Ombot simply functions as a PR mouthpiece. So, it seems to me that the positions of “news analyst” and “ombudsman” are not defined accurately. Just another reason that NPR has finally arrived as the smallest voice in the din of mainstream media news.

  • George Potts

    I can’t believe that NPR would fire Juan Williams (you’re next Maura Liasson), but has no problem with calling George Bush a Nazi.


  • Scott B

    Had a white person said that same statement as Juan said, but with “black” instead of “Muslim”, there would have been a national clamoring for his firing. Juan should have known that from his own experience of being black in America.


    NPR should release the other incidents he was called on the carpet for that show where this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.


    NPR should just disallow their hosts from being on other networks as a pundit. Juan wasn’t being just an interviewee, he was being a regular (paid) pundit, and that’s a vast difference. I wouldn’t want to see an NPR personality doing the same on MSNBC or CNN or any other network.


    This is more on O’Reilly and Fox News: Wha’s with the term “The Muslim Issue”? I hate hearing everyone comparing this and that to Nazis and/or Hitler, but “The Muslim Issue” from the far right is sounding more and more (to me) like the Nazis saying, “The Jewish Question”.

  • Sharron

    This is what President Obama called a “teachable moment”. ‘NPR was stupid” in firing Juan Williams. For generations to come journalists will think twice before voicing an opinion about anything that might offend their employer. Yet, another profession destroyed by the liberal march towards the perfect PC World!!!!

  • George

    So…we’re supposed to accept Vivian Schiller’s money-driven apology but she doesn’t even give Mr. Williams a chance to apologize? Oh, do double-standards a bound in this story. Let’s hear her defend keeping Cokie Roberts, Nina Totenberg, Mara Liason…wait, oh, I see, they’re women. Gee, I guess Mr. Williams is just out of luck, here.

  • Ellen

    I am a left leaning, long time supporting member (25 yrs+) of my local public radio station. I will NOT be sending in my membership contribution for the upcoming year in protest of Williams firing(have already made my contribution for 2010).

    In fact, I’ve begun looking for other news organizations/media to replace NPR. I’ll review my position in a year.

  • George Potts

    Fox News will have George Soros, Alicia Shepard, and anyone else on the left. NPR would not have anyone from the right (even though it would help their ratings).

    There are not interested in ideas and discussion. NPR is only about following the left agenda.

    They don’t even want to know about how much abortion has helped the crime rate.

  • George Potts

    Financially, Juan Williams firing worked out for him. It failed the idea of public funding of the airwaves.

  • http://DotyoumeanFirefoxorwww.qualsearch.com Michael Fosburg

    Let’s not forget the other player in this News drama, The Bill Reilly Show.

    The means and the end for the Hosts on most Right Wing and Conservative Talk Shows is to encourage their listeners to express their emotional responses on issues, usually complex issues. In other words, don’t think about this, tell us your gut reaction.

    The perfect example is BR’s “I’m tired of being careful.” In all other gatherings that notion is discouraged, sometimes forbidden: in a business, at the office, in a classroom, at a college, even attending a play or at the family dinner table. It’s there where we were taught to think before we speak “our minds.”

    Whereas, Right Wing Talk shows don’t want listeners to think first nor to be polite nor civil. In fact, their goal is to convince listeners their gut reactions are a a valid and accurate portrayal of the world.

    When Mr. Williams has that immediate gut reaction boarding a flight, I bet he catches himself, realizing his reaction is, indeed, preposterous, though it’s improbably possible. And BR and the rest of his ilk feed on the improbably possible.

  • buddhaclown

    Why is it different if Juan Williams had criticized someone else for having irrational fears upon seeing Muslims on a plane than if he criticized himself for having irrational fears upon seeing Muslims on a plane?

    Why does expressing our own faults, as opposed to some other person’s faults, suddenly mean we are endorsing these faults?

    If I am a black man, and a young white man, bald with a swastika tattooed on his forehead, sits across for me, is it wrong for me to feel fear? If I didn’t, wouldn’t there be something wrong with me?

    Why in this case is it OK to feel fear, in the other (Muslims on a plane) not so? Perhaps the answer is that in the former it is rational to feel fear, in the latter it isn’t. Recognizing that our gut reactions do not necessarily equal objective truth is fundamental to a rational worldview.

    When we recognize our gut feelings, but then also acknowledge that they are not necessarily rational or moral, we are essentially recognizing the full spectrum of what makes up human, aren’t we?

    Sometimes it seems like the right wing only wants people to listen to the gut, and the left wing wants to pretend the gut doesn’t exist. The fact that Juan Williams could hear both the voice of his reason AND his gut perhaps explains why he worked both for NPR and FOX.

  • Ann

    You wanna hear a strong point of view? I have NEVER worked for an organization with a female head where she did not jeopardize the entire organization because SHE felt she HAD to look to all like she WORE THE PANTS! (By the way, I’m female.) Each one of the women I worked under acted more like a pit bull on a particular issue, losing site of ALL the issues of context that surrounded it!

    I feel, here we go again! Now that I’m hearing that Juan Williams was already working for Fox BEFORE he started with NPR, NPR had no right to act offended by his violations! If they were, nevertheless, unhappy, they should have waited until the end of his contract and then not renewed it. I’m assuming he had a contract. If not, why is Schiller the head of the organization?

    There was an NPR news piece, just before this show started, and the ombudsman’s suggestions for what Schiller SHOULD have done were reported. I forget the full list, but it included that NPR staff should have been informed that this might happen, Juan Williams himself should have been given a chance to respond to the charges, that the public and the the funding sources should have been considered, etc. THOSE are exactly the kind of contextual thinking (especially re: other people, etc.) that the pit-bull leader NEVER remembers to think about, even tho they are always paid the big bucks. JUST WHEN they should provide the deepest reach into a big problem, they go narrow and direct, most importantly: jeopardizing the entire organization in the process!!!

    How perversely short-sited could Schiller BE??!! Didn’t she now that the Conservatives would IMMEDIATELY call for recall of government funding, no matter how small a percentage of NPR’s total budget??!! Didn’t she know that Juan Williams would be able to continue to talk on FOX, and that now he might be painting NPR in a bad light to an already hostile audience, and that he would probably bring the First Amendment??!! Didn’t she hear the entire conversation on the show, which allows an instant realization that to accuse him of bias would be to create another Shirley Sherrod situation, as has been pointed out so often that it MUST be evident! Hasn’t she heard occasional eruptions of opinion on NPR that are always unusual, but which, when they occur, are always instructive?!! Didn’t she think that the incident that would ensue would possibly cause all other NPR shows to “freeze” up, fearing there might be an eruption?

    I’m NOT a conservative, but I have to listen to David Brooks, on NPR AND PBS, when HE supposedly, with his tonality carefully constructed, talks about the facts, coming to Conservative conclusions from his supposedly neutral facts. I ALWAYS disagree with him even BEFORE his opinions — I disagree with the very facts he has chosen to comment upon. Yet, there he is on NPR, and I take it to be part of the “balance”, as much as he angers me. When Juan Williams was on NPR, I sometimes thought he expressed fabulous perspectives, other times he seemed to be saying nothing that the station hadn’t already made clear to me. Once or twice he disappointed me because he seemed lazy on a major issue. But, all in all, I found him to be a balance to David Brooks, and I DO NOT GET MY OPINIONS FROM THE JOURNALISTS WHO WRITE/SPEAK OPINION, I get my opinion from listening, reading, and discussing the news on a regular daily basis, and coming to my OWN conclusions!

    Does Schiller listen to the splendid shows that NPR puts out on a daily basis? Does she realize what an extraordinary “package” the whole thing is? How much hard (often dangerous) reporting, editing, producing, work goes into every minute of every show? Somehow or other, I get the impression that her job is just too big enough that the way she chose to handle the stress was by latching on, pit-bull style, to one, graspable issue: Juan Williams. Get him, wear the pants! I’m sorry, but I’ve seen it before.

    It’s Schiller who should have lost her job, not Juan Williams. She was NOT up to the challenge presented to her, as evidenced not just by the action she took, but, even more so, by the actions she did NOT take!! She is ALL TOO FAMILIAR to me!!! And, in the polarized political environment with its terrible economy that we live in, NPR may be in deep trouble, fighting for its life, possibly, because of her actions AND lack there of!!

    Thanks! Thanks to Tom and his staff, again and again and everyday!

  • Ruth

    Fox News will have George Soros, Alicia Shepard, and anyone else on the left. NPR would not have anyone from the right (even though it would help their ratings).

    There are not interested in ideas and discussion. NPR is only about following the left agenda.

    They don’t even want to know about how much abortion has helped the crime rate.

    Posted by George Potts

    Have you ever listened to NPR or On Point before last week’s debacle??? Apparently not.

  • ThresherK

    @ Paul Horn:

    General Creighton Abrams, the then-commander of all forces in Vietnam, who Cronkite knew from World War II told Cronkite, “we cannot win this goddamned war, and we ought to find a dignified way out,” (according to CBS’ Ernest Leiser, this from Wikipedia’s Cronkite page).

    After that, Cronkite said on the air, “It is increasingly clear that the only rational way out will be to negotiate, not as victors but as an honorable people who lived up to the pledge to defend democracy.”

    Biiiig difference. And any journalist who didn’t make the most of a trusted source in that situation would have been derelict.

  • rh

    Williams is making millions with Fox and aiding yet another Fox-driven crusade in its efforts to achieve oligopoly and cultural warfare. Anyone else notice this is on the heels of some very good NPR reporting and programming examining plutocracy in this country, campaign finance, and other vital current issues the right would like us to forget? Though I find the methods of firing questionable, I do think that there is something here that should be examined: the associations we find acceptable when talking about all things “Muslim.” After Oklahoma City, I never heard anyone say they got very nervous when they saw a blond-haired, white man walking around near government buildings. This is all shrouded in a preexisting fear that some Americans have of Muslim people and culture because it is so unknown. I find some of the sentiments very similar to those I hear from anti-Semetic people, and am very troubled by it. Agree with the comment saying this smells of, “I have a ___ friend, so I’m not a bigot, BUT ….”

    In essence, it is discrimination. To that point I am not saying Williams should not have those feelings — to have them and to acknowledge them TO HIMSELF is one thing, and probably a healthy part of a process to awareness — but I am saying as an intelligent and culturally sensitive human being, he should question them, examine them, and challenge them. He should not go on national TV and air them, which validates anyone else who has that feeling, or perhaps gives others the idea to entertain such feelings.

    On a common sense level, thus far no terrorist has been in “Muslim garb,” but in “American garb,” whatever either of those things mean.

    PS I never heard Mona answer the question about how SHE would feel if she were associated with a group that had been lumped together and designated a group that makes a prominent news analyst “nervous.”

    PPS Quite frankly I don’t like to be associated with a culture that has been convinced that it’s against their best interests to tax people who control 85 percent of the wealth in this country, and in their best interests to eliminate programs they count on, like Medicaid, but I’ll bet there are plenty of people abroad who do.

  • Beverly

    When asked by Bill O’Reilly if we have a problem because of Muslims, Juan said, “Yes, we do.” His contract states that he must act ethically, & keep his opinions to himself. He was obliged to report the news, not BE the news. We don’t want to know what journalists think about an issue; we want to know all facts on every issue, & make up our own minds, without hearing any reporters’ point of view. It has been done that way on the BBC for years, & it works perfectly.

    He had be confronted about being unprofessional quite a few times. In 2008, he was even demoted! He still didn’t learn. NPR was paying Juan to NOT give his opinions, speak his mind, or anything else. By signing his contract, he agreed to abide by their rules & codes of ethics. NPR has high standards, & he didn’t. He was SHOUTING on Faux News, giving NPR a bad name. No on is allowed to shout on NPR. He was representating NPR, a RESPECTABLE news organization, unlike the hooligan network, which has no standards, & seems proud of the fact that they’re playing such a huge role in the dumbing down of America.

    By the way, I feel that NPR is perfectly balanced, maybe ever so slightly to the right. Have you heard about the experiment? Two guys thought that NPR was too liberal, were determined to prove that they were right. So, for 6 months, they read the manuscripts of every news program, noting how many stories were left-leaning, & how many leaned a bit to the right. They discovered that NPR was right in the middle; where they strive to be, & where we want them to be.

    NPR won’t even miss the pittance received from the Government, so I think they should refuse it. They probably won’t notice the difference. NPR is commercial-free, but I’m sure that their many grateful listeners, (both Republicans & Democrats), will donate more, to make up for it.

    By the way, 38% of NPR listeners are Democratic, 61% are Republican.

  • Nate S.

    HEADLINE – NPR Fires Juan Williams, fearing that they may have hurt his feelings and those of Fox New NPR decides to give Juan more press covereage now than they did when he was employed with NPR. CEO of NPR does not deny reports that there is talk of creating a new radio reality show titled “What is Juan Saying Now?”. Unofficial reports say this reality show could fill the ‘On Point’ time slot.

    Get over it! He has been let go. It does not materially change anything. Get back to reporting… please :)

  • Greg

    Modern corporate-owned journalism began in the 1920s. Pulitzer prize-winning newsman and intellectual Walter Lippman articulated its purpose as being a link between policymakers and the public.

    Journalist John Pilger had an uncontroversial insight that has changed my perspective about news at the national level. He points out that the essence of professional journalism is its reliance on official sources. Think about that. You can talk about anything, so long as the information is sanctioned by those in power or authority. But know this: We, the people, do not set the agenda of our own national debate.

    The liberal media — when referring to NPR anyway — isn’t liberal because it has a liberal opinion. It has no opinion. It only appears liberal when juxtaposed with the vocal pro-business, often pro-war, corporate-owned media.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Matt wrote: “I find it amusing how so many posters align themselves with NPR, but go to great lengths to claim that neither leans to the left. Why do conservatives wear their political colors like a badge of honor and liberals hide behind theirs like a disease? — The lady doth protest too much, me thinks!”
    What? If by conservatives you mean those obnoxiously secure and rich crossed with those who are obnoxiously bigoted and impatient, then where on earth does their “badge of honor” come from? I ask again, is it something in the educational system? Do we indoctrinate inordinate confidence and patriotism along with our pledge of allegiance, and it turns into dyed-in-the-flag pride, conservative pride?
    And who is protesting too much? I don’t get it.
    I am waiting for the Real Right Wing, that of Abraham Lincoln and General Eisenhower, to find its voice.
    Second point: On any show, in any conversation, the obvious next thing if someone says “black cats going under ladders make me nervous” (or what-have-you), someone on the other side of the room (it doesn’t need to be a therapist; it can be your 10-year-old) then pipes up, as if scripted, “Oh, no, Dad; the really bad ones shave their beards; and at airports there are people specially employed to see if people have things under their burkas that are illegal.”
    The fact we get nervous irrelevantly is old as the hills. Conversations exist in order to deal with this. Isn’t that what the Oprah Winfrey show does? Maybe under Juan Williams, the O’Reilly show will be twisted in that direction. “Express your fears here, where it is safe, and we will help you exorcise them.”

  • David James

    This was an amazing show this morning, I’m just sorry my client showed up and I couldn’t hear the whole thing. I did hear the part where the ombudsman, Ms. Shepard, was making the case that NPR is balanced. In the part of the show I heard, no one pointed out that there were two people defending NPR and only one person taking the other side. That’s not an unusual ratio for NPR or other networks with the exception of FOX.

  • ThresherK

    In fact, I’ve begun looking for other news organizations/media to replace NPR. I’ll review my position in a year.

    Democracy Now? I mean, Amy Goodman has already been detained crossing a border. Iraq? China? Iran? Somalia?
    No. Mild-mannered Canada: Amy was questioned extensively about the speech she intended to give; their car was gone through by armed border guards, and their papers and laptop computers were scoured. They were detained for well over an hour, and were made an hour late for her speech.

  • Rick Davis

    @ Paul

    Paul- Watlker Conkrite has been celebrated for decades now in voicing his PERSONAL OPINION on CBS News that the Vietnam War as a lost cause.

    However, you won’t find journalists being critical of him for it. For many of them, they will say that Walter was a hero for it.

    just like you won’t find many on here calling for someone like Nina Totenberg to be fired for giving her personal opinion on matters.

  • ThresherK

    That’s not an unusual ratio for NPR or other networks with the exception of FOX.

    Let’s see, this show had a dedicated conservative who can’t ever say a Fox News conservative has done anything which embarrassed her. An ombud who gave the right-wing a dream headline, full of half-truth and imbalance saying “Williams firing was poorly handled”. And a straight-down-the-middle journalism critic.

    The Colbert quote “Reality has a well-know liberal bias” was said as satire. Are you trying to prove it? Have you spent so much time watching Fox that you can’t tell when you’re in reality?

  • Rick Davis

    @ David

    “In the part of the show I heard, no one pointed out that there were two people defending NPR and only one person taking the other side. That’s not an unusual ratio for NPR ”

    - That’s pretty routine for NPR. Their view of “balanced” is having 2 guests on one side versus 1 guest on the other. That way you get twice as much discussion from one point of view – and that somehow equals “fair.”

    but most folks on here won’t admit that.

  • Rick Davis


    On Point and NRP rarely have truly balanced shows. I like NPR but anyone that listens realizes pretty quickly that having 2 guests on one side and 1 guest on the other is fairly routine stuff.

    Just a few weeks ago a caller called Tom Ashbrook on it. He had a “liberal” guest for the entire hour and had a “Conservative” guest that from 40 after the hour to the top of the hour- and that was – I assume- “balanced” in their view.

    That’s pretty routine on NPR shows.

  • John Geheran

    As a frequent critic of NPR, I am pleased to register a complement of Tom Ashbrook’s show of 10/25. I thought it was a balanced discourse of the JW firing issue as well as the state of newscasting generally. My vote would be for NPR to consider abandoning the myth of “objectivity” and allow for more diversity and subjectivity on appropriate news topics. Failing that, come right out and say, “we strive to be fair-and- balanced but admit to an occasional left-of-center bias” (ala T.Gross, N.Totenberg). That said, I admit to enjoying the type of discourse prevalent on the O’Reilly show. I believe that he is rational and respectful as well as “passionate”. He is unafraid to address controversial subject matter and invites the movers and shakers on both sides of the issue to stand-up and defend their positions. He is tough but fair.

  • Ruth

    Some of the comments here make it quite clear that certain posters do not routinely listen to On Point or NPR or they would know there have been many complaints stemming from an overload of right-wing, biased guests outnumbering neutral or left-sided guest, especially on this program, in the past. Try to make time to listen to it more often, you will be amazed.

  • david

    Juan crossed the line in the minds of NPR, so they threw him under the wagon.
    Yet! once again the big time liberal George Soros’s name emerges.

  • mary elizabeth

    To George Potts
    As a regular NPR listener, I have never heard George Bush called a NAZI, or Barack Obama for that matter.
    Your comments need reference, please,

  • George

    It would be interesting to see who is running NPR. Are they all liberals or Conservatives? How much are they paid? What are their pensions? They seem to get a lot of money from the taxpayers so should they have an oversight panel look at their reporting?

  • Ellen Dibble

    I can understand the pleasure derived from a good old-fashioned football-style show-down, if that is what conservative talk-shows offer. To me, it is a waste of my time. From what I hear on NPR, if it is true that conservatives only get one third the airtime, well, thank you for not wasting my time. They seem to have a lot less than one-third as much of substance to say. Lots of emotionalism, bubble-type effervescence, but not much of anything besides. I use my remote when channel surfing during 6:30 to 7:00 to skim right past certain windbags. There are more such windbags on the right, apparently by Order of the Party Leaders. This is too bad, because whatever the policy substance is, it is likely to be prevailing after November 2nd. So we will find out, one way or the other.

  • david Peterson

    The Hedge funds and Corporate foundations who run NPR
    have globalist intentions and goals, it should be called
    international public corporate radio, they have little
    to say to the real America and only seek out elite opinions and have a vicious PC Stalinist leftist outlook, I am so glad this incident showed them naked
    for a moment for the who they really are apologists
    for billionaires and their hatred of the America ideal of Free speech. Such rich cowards…

  • Bryan T

    This ought to be a much less important story, if it weren’t for the barracuda-like right-wing blowing it up out of proportion, ready as they always are at a moment’s notice to attack one of their favorite targets, the “political correctness of the left.” NPR was perfectly within its rights to let go of Williams, for the reasons presented by Alicia Shepard in her straightforward explanation: Williams’s comments were only the latest in a long line of statements that compromised his journalistic integrity. He was warned repeatedly not to cross the line, and he continued to do so. We ought to accept what she has to say and leave it at that. I also find her points about Bill O’Reilly’s yelling and talking over people to be well-taken. O’Reilly’s show is not an honest forum on which to exchange ideas of any sort. He is a bully and exults in being one. In hindsight, Williams shouldn’t have been allowed to be on O’Reilly’s show from the start. NPR can be criticized for not reeling him in earlier, as well as for making the decision to fire him abruptly, without personally informing Williams or preparing its member stations; however, the far more important story as I see it is the predictable enthusiasm with which right-wingers like Newt Gingrich have used this occasion to wax sanctimonious and boost their obsessive crusade to “de-fund the left.” Pulling the plug on public funding for NPR is one of those craven fantasies that continually make Gingrich and his ilk, including the odiously partisan Mona Charen, salivate. The fact that Williams has now been swept up by Fox with a two million dollar contract is post-hoc evidence that NPR was right, since Williams has allowed himself to be cynically manipulated by the right for its own purposes.

    We should not confuse this with the Shirley Sherrod incident. Again, while it is true that Williams’s comments could be seen to have been taken out of context, as Ms. Shepard rightly notes, context is exactly the point: the full context to the firing was the long line of Williams’s inappropriate comments. (Anyone interested can see my letter to the Globe on July 26th on the Sherrod incident for a related perspective: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/letters/articles/2010/07/26/sherrod_incident_shows_how_fast_liberals_cave_in/)

    As far as the oft-parroted criticism of NPR, academia, and the media in general as having a “liberal bias” goes, I have this to say: not all conservatives are stupid people, but most stupid people are conservative. The fact that most well-educated people identify more with liberal values isn’t a fault of some supposed left-wing conspiracy in the schools and the media; it’s rather because modern-day conservatism is thoroughly compromised by anti-intellectualism. People who value open-mindedness naturally recoil from conservatism’s widespread irrationality. Conservatism as it exists today is an intellectually dishonest movement whose primary purpose is to serve the interests of the wealthy and powerful. It is no coincidence that the rise to prominence of our nation’s peculiar brand of conservatism comes at a time of historic levels of wealth inequality, with all its wide-ranging, deleterious effects.

  • Stephen Luttrell

    I’ve pretty much had it with NPR. I’m a right-leaning Independent and get most of my news from NPR. I don’t mind a left tilt but I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated with their near exclusion of the other side’s argument. I’ve defended NPR to conservatives for awhile now but it’s unfortunately clear that it promotes liberal agenda (as Fox promotes conservative)rather than “thoughtful commentaries, and compelling analysis”. I’m now seeking an alternative news source, and I hope NPR’s public funding is pulled.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I think so many parts of the media are dissecting Juan Williams and NPR management partly because everyone who is paid for broadcasting has a dog in this fight. Has the KoolAid of objectivity gone a drink too many for NPR? Are they frightening off, throttling, the identities behind the individuals who bring us the news? So they fire Juan Williams ostensibly for something I think we can all see was a sort of set-up by Fox? Let me sell you a bridge in Brooklyn. I get nervous when Trick-or-Treaters come over. When they see me, so do they. So what? If anything, Williams’ remark was an attempt to get in line with the more squeamish of our population, in order to pull them back over the line along with him. The first step to sobriety is facing your faults. Way to go, Juan.
    Just, if I were anywhere in the media I would be uber-anxious after that little event. Where exactly is the trip-wire for such firing lines?

  • Brandstad

    Have you heard of the “Washington Monument Ploy”. Did you know that it is being tried again!

  • http://kcpwSaltLakeCity Joshua

    It is time the public agreed that Fox Network is not the proper venue for intelligent and thoughtful debate. They have stolen the conversation for too long. It is time we “Restore Sanity” to the level of speech and publicly shame networks like Fox. Don’t let your guest debace the last bastion of thoughtful content as “liberal” and “biassed”. She is flat out WRONG.

  • ThresherK

    I’ve defended NPR to conservatives for awhile now but it’s unfortunately clear that it promotes liberal agenda

    There’s not a single outlandish lie a Republican congresscritter, spokesperson or candidate can say which would get them not invited onto NPR. There’s no end to the enabled BS a Cato or Heritage or AEI report can come out with which will make NPR lose their phone number. There’s not a specious Teabagger charge about President Obama being a (pick one) Muslim, Communist, Fascist, “raising all our taxes” and “government interfering with our Medicare” which NPR will dismiss with laughter; all ideas of that ilk are subjected to the same “on the one hand on the other” crap, and nothing from the right is ever called a lie.

    NPR has honed in on the Beltway Inbred mindset from Newt Gingrich on the right all the way to “even the liberal ‘New Republic’” on the left.

  • Potter

    Regarding Nina Totenberg’s Helm/AIDS remark perhaps we should look at the video of it and judge if it is being portrayed correctly in posts here and elsewhere.

    Nina Totenberg on God Giving Jesse Helms Aids

    She is not wishing AIDS on Helms. She says “if there is retributive justice” AIDS may strike Helms and those he loves. This was because Helms was against funding help for homosexuals with AIDS and at some point earlier against funding for aids in Africa.

    The NYTimes:

    But while Mr. Helms, a conservative standard-bearer, has changed his mind, it is only about the international aspect of the AIDS problem. He has made it clear in recent weeks to reporters in his home state, North Carolina, that his concerns do not extend to AIDS in the United States.

    On March 5, he said that the ”homosexual lifestyle” was the cause of the spread of AIDS in this country, and that spending on AIDS research took necessary money away from more worthy areas of study like ”heart problems and other medical defects of humanity.”

    That distinction has drawn sharp criticism in North Carolina from advocacy groups for people with AIDS. Today, Bill Brent, executive director of the Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina, said his group agreed with Mr. Helms’s proposals but thought it was ”a shame he has taken two decades to come to this conclusion, only now as he is leaving office.”

  • Will H

    The Republican and Tea Party Platform

    Small government = Corporations are free to rob the people in whatever way possible, and the super rich can take whatever means to get richer, squeeze the middle class, and forget the poor.

    Personal responsibility = You are on your own. No insurance, No pensions, No Social Security, No Medicare! Feel free to die on the street. Squeeze the middle class with the hidden tax in the form of rising health care costs to enrich the corporations. Too bad if you are poor and sick.

    Strong national defense = Let’s go into Iraq, spend trillions, and leave the dope Obama to clean up and look foolish.

    Christian morality = You are not Christian if you vote for a Democrat. Nothing else matters. So what if the First Amendment specified separation of Church and State.

    Return to the Ideals of the Founding Fathers = We the People should be We the People and Corporations. By the way, the Muslims and other non-christians are not quite equal to us.

    You may think you are patriotic and righteous, but you have been bought, paid for, and incited by the money from the likes of Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News, and the Koch brothers and their 30 second TV ads. Soros may support Media Matters, but you don’t see Media Matters lying about Fox’s lying, and he has been way outspent by too many others. You are a gullible, angry mob duped into voting against your own interests.

    Wake up America!

  • PMundkur

    Alicia Shepard and the The CEO of NPR (Schiller) that fired Juan Williams should BOTH be fired – as well as anyone else that was part of that decision. I am happy to listen to your free stuff — but I will NEVER contribute to NPR again until AT LEAST both of the above are fired !!

  • SCL

    Regarding the right-wing’s continued perception that NPR (and even NBC, ABC, CBS) are left-leaning and that FOX is to the right what NPR is to the left. This ridiculous position arises from a group of individuals who live in a world disconnected with reality (i.e. climate change is a hoax, the UN is poised to take over the world, Jesus speaks to me, Obama is a socialist, etc.). Nearly any truthful representation of REALITY is, to the right, a left-wing plot because reality does not fit into their fantasy world of religious ideology and American exceptionalist mythology.

    In a world where right-wing zealots are considered trustworthy arbiters of truth and scientific facts are dis-believed by the masses, reality does have a left-leaning bias.

  • tgentry

    So Alicia basically stated that Juan should of been fired BECUASE he was on FOX rather than the content of his comment.

    Where is the even hand of oversight? Shouldn’t she be as critical of all other networks?

  • FerialDay

    I support Williams’ firing and wish him luck with his new friends.

    And about the “free speech” argument: “free speech” is when I pick up my soapbox and hustle over to Boston Common to climb up & speak my piece. I fail to see that someone making 2 million in three years may lay claim to the right to “free speech;” his speech is bought & paid for. Now if they *weren’t* paying him (even an honorarium) *that* would be “free speech.”

  • http://gyfortune.com Gwendoline Y. Fortune, Ed. D.

    Once I hear the entire comment by Williams I think that his firing on this particular incident was a poor choice. Like the woman who was fired for a sentence without full context,his overall point was the opposite of what is being “cut-and pasted.”

    I am not a fan of Williams, and I detest “FOX Noise”, but as I saw the controversy developing I wanted to scream, “As a person of color/black in this country, I’ve been afraid whenever I see a white face since I was a child. I censor my emotional response to a white face–not “garb”–designated every day. My three black sons have the condition exponentially more.
    Balance, please!

  • Gray

    I believe the mere fact that Williams appeared as an NPR analyst gives NPR the right to terminate his position. He is a rep of NPR and if he makes a comment that seems contrary to NPR’s neutrality, then it is in NPR’s interest to get rid of him, so that people do not get the wrong impression of NPR. If he had appeared as independent, then it would have been unfair.

  • John

    I think NPR walked into Fox’ trap. Fox thrives on controversy. It gets them viewers and ratings and makes them money. I suspect that Mr. Williams had been planning for a while to leave NPR and go full time with Fox. I’m sure he has a much bigger salary and will have more exposure as a television commentator. What better way to draw attention to your new star than by having his old employer fire him? Sooner or later NPR would reach a breaking point and fire Mr. Williams, and Fox would have tons of free publicity, plenty to rant about with their fellow-travelers, and would provide NPR’s enemies with some great ammunition.

    Ms. Charon’s argument is that since every newscaster has a personal opinion we should make the news all about celebrating that opinion. No. It does not follow. Facts can be delivered without reference to personal opinion. Objectivity must still be the goal. Too often “opinion” ignores facts or twists facts. “Opinion” as “news” becomes an argument for a point of view, which when morphs into propaganda.

    I challenge Ms. Charon to find the inevitable opinion in this: “Today a force of nearly 600 US soldiers attacked a large encampment of Native Americans who had left their reservations. The encampment contained a large number of warriors as well as women, children, and the elderly. In the ensuing battle, American forces were defeated by an enemy force estimated to number 1800. One unit was led by General George Armstrong Custer. General Custer and all of the 200 men under him were killed in the battle.”

  • Gloria, Washington state

    Two things:I agree with Alicia that the firing of Juan Williams was knee jerk and should be criticized as such. The situation could have been handled much more professionally by NPR staff, and his comments were taken out of context in the same way that comments are being used in the ridiculous political advertisements that are swamping television right now.

    Secondly, I listen to NPR because I want to hear an objective presentation of relevant news. Therefore, I disagree with Jay when he says that it is time for a switch in the way NPR reporters allow their emotions and personal opinions to be involved in their reporting. That is the problem with mainstream media, and that is why I do not watch television news or listen to any other reporting besides what I can hear on public radio. Everyone has their own passionate opinion about everything, and that is not what I pay money to hear as an NPR member. I don’t want the personal feelings and opinions of everyone who happens to get a hold of my ear.

    If we as a nation gave absolute validity to every single one of our 308 million inhabitants, the political, governmental, and social climates would be as volatile as the middle of the ocean during a hurricane. Is that what we want as citizens of this nation?

  • Charles L

    I applaud Tom Ashbrook on today’s show. I imagine it took some courage to spend an entire hour on the subject on an NPR member station — someone with less nerve might have claimed to have covered the subject on last Friday’s weekly roundtable and left it at that. It might have been me, but I thought Tom sounded appropriately skeptical of some of the things that the ombudsman was claiming. I was also relieved that Jack Beatty was not on today’s show – I think we pretty much can guess where he stands on all this.

  • Bridget Elmeniawy

    Did the Alicia Shepard really introduce “yelling” as a contributing factor to why they fired Juan? So no NPR analyst is allowed to yell?

    Don’t get me wrong – I think it was a good move to fire him and always wondered why NPR allowed him to be on Fox. I just think Ms. Shepard should think up some more rational excuses. Yelling?

  • http://none Mike B

    To NPR listeners like me–without television–Juan Williams was simply a delightful, well-informed, and qualified commentator. His firing was a shock.

    I do not watch Fox News and missed his appearances there.

    However, it sounds to me like NPR would want its commentators to attempt to balance this network.

    We can twist perceptions, talk about NPR ethics codes, or past practices, but it is clear to most rational people that Juan Williams was censored.

    He spoke and was fired. NPR is selectively applying its policies and has lost credibility with the US public.

    How was it objective to fire him?

    Isn’t opposing viewpoints a sign of a strong organization?

    I am ceasing my funding of NPR and my local affiliate until NPR apologizes to Mr. Williams. I would like to give to “On Point” however.

    Careful, Tom Ashbrook, you are also not towing the NPR party line today and could be looking at a pink slip from the current NPR management practices.

    In short, NPR loses credibility; Fox News now gains credibility.

    Sad day.

  • Bernard Webb

    It’s infuriating to hear Mona Charen say that not only NPR but also CBS, NBC, and ABC “lean to the left”. CBS, NBC, and ABC are owned and run by large multi-national corporations. Why on earth would corporate-controlled media “lean to the left”? Does she mean that these giant corporations favor unions? Socialism? Communism?

    The statement is ridiculous on its face.

  • michael

    “I keep hearing that there have been all these other problems with Juan Williams and I’d like to hear what the guest is talking about.”


    Williams’ appearances on Fox News, especially O’Reilly’s show, have caused heartburn repeatedly for NPR over the last few years. Management said he’s been warned several times that O’Reilly is a professional provocateur and to be careful.
    In early 2009, Williams said on O’Reilly of Michelle Obama: “She’s got this Stokely Carmichael-in-a-designer-dress thing going. If she starts talking . . . her instinct is to start with this blame America, you know, I’m the victim. If that stuff starts to coming out, people will go bananas and she’ll go from being the new Jackie O. to being something of an albatross.”
    After other inflammatory comments on Fox, in April 2008 NPR changed Williams’ role from news correspondent (a reporting job) to news analyst. In this contract position, he was expected to report, think quickly and give his own analysis – while carefully choosing his words on any given subject.
    One reason he was fired, according to Vivian Schiller, NPR’s CEO, is that the company felt he wasn’t performing the role of a news analyst:
    “News analysts may not take personal public positions on controversial issues; doing so undermines their credibility as analysts, and that’s what’s happened in this situation,” said Schiller in an email to NPR member stations, some of which are upset about Williams’ firing.

    Williams supported Imus Firing, Censoring of Rap Music


    That’s right, Williams the current crusader for absolute free speech rights wanted to use the Imus affair to close down even more speech, by hundreds of rappers, listened to by millions. Despite being given many opportunities to do so, Williams never in the transcripts I could find said “Imus should not have been fired.” Rather, on NPR he suggested that more minorities and women are in the upper echelons of CBS now, and that they mobilized over this issue.

    Last time it happen his contract was changed so like the ombudsman stated this was not the 1st time

  • Ellen Dibble

    Right, I have enjoyed Jack Beatty’s volcanic rants when he is really adamant about this or that. He has a lot of ammunition (information, savvy) behind his positions. I think we all take him and his positions in the context of who he is and what he knows. It would be a huge loss to have NPR straitjacket him. But maybe commentators are less answerable for cool balance than political analysts? What about when they are out back grilling a steak with friends? Would someone be so cruel as to tweet that online, that such-and-such an ATC host was calling Glenn Beck a charlatan or whatever? Then everybody knows that so-and-so has an emotionally charged viewpoint? And that is not only news, it’s cause for firing?
    There is some wonderful “launching” here in this thread. If I were Obama, I’d “borrow” Will H’s post and skip the current slick ads and run that through every TV outlet in the US — not that it’s totally right or totally fair, but that it totally needs to be said.

  • Patrick O’Reilly

    For the first time in years, I didn’t listen to WBUR and NPR this morning. I just couldn’t stomach it after what happened.

    This isn’t about Fox and the type of organization it is, this is about NPR and what standards it sets for itself. On that mark NPR has fallen short.

    Nothing Juan Williams said in his comments could be even remotely construed to justify his dismissal. Attempts to do so further embarrass NPR and WBUR management.

    I am happy to see that On Point covered this, but given the purge at the organization and the positions of both NPR and WBUR management, I doubt the value of the coverage. I used to appreciate that I could get different perspectives on WBUR and NPR, understanding there was always a slant to the left, but now I will have to tune to Fox News to get a real taste of a different perspective.

  • SCL

    In light of comments indicating that people are withdrawing their support of NPR based upon the Juan Williams decision, I will double my usual contribution. How dare NPR have principals of journalistic and in intellectual integrity in the age of slaughter-house punditry? People, please spare me the incredulity.

  • David Kennison

    The firing of Juan Williams is evidence of incompetence on the part those NPR personnel directly responsible for that act. Indeed that incompetence is so gross as to now require NPR to demonstrate its own competence, with respect to its own mission, not only by firing those responsible but also by making restitution to Jaun Williams.

    In their numerous explanations of the firing, those responsible have repeatedly demonstrated their gross incompetence by exposing their lack of ability to distinguish between fact and opinion. That ability is essential to the competent discharge of their responsibilities, not only to NPR, but also to its supporters and listeners.

    Perhaps the single greatest cause of human tragedy, throughout the history of the civilized world, has been the failure to distinguish between feelings and knowledge. Knowledge is conceptual, not emotional.

    By accurately reporting a fact, the nature of his own emotional feelings in a certain situation, immediately followed by his own rational analysis of that situation, an analysis that clearly rejected treating those feelings as knowledge, Juan Williams demonstrated the very competence that was lacking in those responsible for his firing.

    [Indeed, considering not only the crucial societal importance of his rational analysis, but also the psychology of the millions of listeners who shared his feelings without having yet made such rational analyses for themselves, Juan Williams's remarks were an exemplary demonstration of analytical journalism at its finest.]

    To achieve excellence in journalism, it is necessary but not sufficient that analyses merely be valid. It is also necessary that valid analyses be presented in those contexts and in those manners that maximize the probability that listeners who do not already share such analyses will critically reexamine their own positions. By prefacing his rational critical analysis of the stereotyping of Muslims as terrorists with his candid personal expression of emotional affinity with the millions of Fox listeners who were actually guilty of such stereotyping, Juan Williams demonstrated an acute sensitivity to the psychology of those listeners — a sensitivity that is a critical prerequisite for the practice of journalistic excellence.

    The hallmark of excellence in journalism is not that it comfort and reassure those who already share the journalist’s analysis but that it provoke and challenge those who have thus far rejected that analysis.

    Far too much of what has passed for journalism lately, both at Fox and at NPR, has been “preaching to the choir.” The audiences of both networks have a crucial need for Juan Williams’s level of journalism, and it is ironic that the audiences seem to appreciate that fact better than do those in positions of executive journalistic responsibility.

  • Suzanne

    Does NPR “lean tot he left” because it’s not the voice of homophobic, evangelical, Republican America? Is that why it’s “leftist”? Really, Mona? Please.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I agree with Michael. Without having researched on line, I too have heard that Juan Williams was sometimes a problem for NPR. It must be tough for administrators to figure out what to do. Do you put him up for auction, competent black news guy? Various experience in the field?
    Ummmmm. It’s just that he marches to a different drummer. (Don’t we all?)
    But then I noticed Daniel Schorr died. And Juan Williams was next up to bat, the guy to fill Dan Schorr’s shoes.
    What is wrong with this picture? There is no such thing as a substitute for Dan Schorr. And Juan Williams, IMHO, needs to work at being Juan Williams, not a duplicate of some putative ideal news analyst. Maybe he hasn’t found his sealegs yet. Maybe Schiller et al are right to dangle the word psychotherapist. I suppose I’m not the only one who hopes he gets together the internal fortitude to totally change Fox News, from the inside out. I can always dream, right?

  • Ann

    “I applaud Tom Ashbrook on today’s show. I imagine it took some courage to spend an entire hour on the subject on an NPR member station — someone with less nerve might have claimed to have covered the subject on last Friday’s weekly roundtable and left it at that. It might have been me, but I thought Tom sounded appropriately skeptical of some of the things that the ombudsman was claiming.” Charles L., October 25, 1:16 p.m.

    I absolutely concur! And, I think a few other posters, above, agree, as well. Thank you for saying this so clearly, Charles L.!

  • Harry Teasley

    Juan Williams lost all credibility a long time ago. I watched him on Fox, dripping with incredulity at a supposed lack of common sense in the healthcare reform bill, and then he would indulge in commentary on NPR where he made it clear he understood the complexity and agreed with most of the goals.

    The anti-intellectual stance of Fox News promotes this “don’t mind me, I’m just an ordinary person who thinks clearly, not some ivory tower technocrat who has never done an honest day’s work” mode of discussion, which is very disingenuous and destructive. He played both sides of the fence, there, and I found it incredibly annoying.

    I would call upon Jerry Browns’ staffers to describe what he is, and why it’s a good thing that NPR no longer deals with him….

  • stan

    I agree with NPR , for firing Juan Williams, why all the fuss a bout his firing and we did not hear any about firing Rick Sanchez, may be both need to be hired back to Fox,

  • Roy Merritt

    The mere fact that Williams would appear on O’Reilly’s show a man just as guilty of the murder of Doctor Tiller
    as the gunman himself should be grounds for his firing. Individuals such as Glenn Beck and the moronic O’Reilly who often boasts that he is “looking out for the folk!” is indicative of the disingenuous he is. Ms. Schiller said that she had cautioned him not to continue on O’Reilly, essentially being a shill for his notorious positions as well as a shill for Fox News, which in reality is not news network but rather a propaganda outlet for the right wing in this country. These people don’t believe in freedom of speech and would no doubt censure and fire anyone on the outlet who said anything contrary to their party line. On Point’s having Mona Charen on to debate this matter is not credible to me because she is often contemptuous of anyone who holds an alternative point of view. And why so much clamor and pity for poor, poor Mr. Williams. Woe is he. He wrung 2 million bucks out of Rupert Murdoch and a platform for himself on that outlet. But you wait when he says something that Roger Ailes and Murdoch disagrees with. And as far as Charen’s contention that NPR has a liberal point of view is ridiculous compared to the right wing crap that Fox delivers. Fox has no compunction about lying, lying without any fear of reaction from their viewers. Indeed their viewers lap it up like hungry dogs. Does anyone recall the Fox outlet that ordered two producers to put on a program that the two of them were aware were untrue. The Fox station fired them for refusing to perpetrate a lie on the public. When the two individuals sued for unlawful firing the station’s defense was that they had a constitutional right to lie and the courts upheld that contention. Fair and Balanced indeed. There is nothing Fair and
    Balanced about Fox. Fox is antithetical to the American ethos and has done more damage to this nation than many of its worse enemies.

    Roy Merritt
    Wilmington, NC

  • George Potts

    Have you not seen this video produced by NPR?


  • George Potts
  • Claire

    NPR did the right thing, even if in a clumsy way.

    Forty years, it was acceptable to say in public “I feel uncomfortable when I see black people.” Twenty years, it was acceptable to say in public “I feel uncomfortable around gays.”

    And now, in most parts of civil society, this is no longer acceptable. A majority of us have come to understand and work toward overcoming our inbred racism and homophobia. It’s time to do the same in the arena of ethnic and religious diversity.

  • George Potts

    The difference, Rich Sanchez worked for a dead network, and Juan Williams worked for a dying network.

  • Ed Lover

    How is this even an issue? Williams’ comments were not that bad this time, but he’s been obnoxious for years, and his association with Fox News made NPR look bad. Good riddance.

    What *is* offensive is having to listen to the tedious torture apologist Alicia Shepard.

  • George Potts

    The difference is that NPR people don’t want to hear anything but the liberal line.

    NPR is the new thought police.

  • c small

    I was disappointed that this show became a replay of the argument over whether NPR and/or Juan Williams are liberal or conservative. In that respect, it added nothing to the debate which has occurred over the past week. I wish the show had featured professional journalists or even academics discussing how and why journalism ethics have developed to require a reporter to be neutral and what the distinctions are between a reporter, commentator and analyst. I think part of the confusion on the Juan Williams firing has to do with the public’s inability to distinguish between those people who report facts and those who, such as columnists, who offer opinion.

  • Jack Shultz

    I agreed with EJ Dionne’s comment made on Meet The Press on Sunday.

    Dionne said that he felt that NPR should not have fired Williams, but rather should have told him that his work with Fox was incompatible with the work he does at NPR.

    At that point, he should have been given a choice, either resign from Fox or resign from NPR.

    In that way, he would not have been fired but rather have chosen to resign.

  • Chris

    The difference is that NPR people don’t want to hear anything but the liberal line.

    NPR is the new thought police.

    Posted by George Potts

    Haha you are too funny, do you even think about what you write – no I guess not

  • George Potts


    Did you hear everything that Juan Williams said on Fox?

  • kraig storm

    NPR is liberal. NPR is politically correct. NPR is afraid of offending muslims and islam. NPR is afraid of radical muslims. NPR is a puppet of CAIR and Soros. NPR never found fault when Bush was compared to Hitler. NPR never censored or criticized their guests or hosts when they repeatedly used the disgusting slang term “tea bag” when referring to the tea party movement.

    NPR is hypocritical. Defending is coming. The public will no longer stand for the abuse from NPR.

  • George Potts

    More examples of NPR bias – Jack Beatty called Reagan a Bolshevik.


  • John

    The teabaggers called themselves that for a while. I’m more offended by their defiling the Boston Tea Party than by someone using a word for an alleged sex act that I doubt anyone really does.

  • FloridaBill

    I believe NPR has shot themselves in the foot, and the bullet may have bounced into the Golden Goose.

  • George Potts

    The teabaggers called themselves that for a while. I’m more offended by their defiling the Boston Tea Party than by someone using a word for an alleged sex act that I doubt anyone really does.

    John, you can’t give on that one? You know its wrong, can’t you admit just one thing that is an obvious mistake? The Fonz couldn’t say “I’m sorry” and you can’t say, “That was wrong?”

    Typical liberal.

    Republican leave office when they are implicated in a sex scandal, Democrats stay even after the blue dress is tested.

    It’s easy “I’m sorry”, not “I’m ssssss………”

    HEYYYYYYYY (two thumbs up)

  • ruralcounsel

    “bigot” means someone intolerant of views differing from their own. NPR is the bigot here, not Mr. Williams.

    Mr. Williams told us how he truthfully feels. He wasn’t intolerant, merely fearful. Nothing wrong with that. Apparently NPR prefers their analysts lie to us. Ah, at least it’s out in the open now.

    For those who think it was the right thing, done poorly; ridiculous. Hypocrital snobs and leftist elitists all.

    Schadenfreude! NPR, you couldn’t be more deserving of this firestorm of criticism and controversy. I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t rub off on the state public radio outlets too! I can only hope it destroys your fund raising abilities, and you can all retire to Europe and renounce your US citizenship like you always dream of.

  • Greg

    Yes, NPR has a right to fire Juan Williams and I’m glad to see him go, but not like this. Since my direct contributions supported NPR, I also have the right to withhold donations until Alicia Shepard and Vivian Schiller depart. We, the contributors to NPR and local stations, will have the final word.

    So please Mrs. Shepard and Schiller, don’t harm NPR. Innocent staff, and wonderful programs will suffer for your poor judgement. Leave now, on your own terms. Your failure has put the writting on the wall.

  • Ellen

    David Kennison, you have nailed this issue. I completely agree with each of your conclusions!

  • Don Q. Public

    How long, do you suppose, that they mostly white, mostly conservative, mostly unbalanced right-wing FoxNews audience will listen to the mostly non-white, mostly-polemical, mostly angry Juan Williams? Seriously, he played a pretty important role on the Bill-O Show; that of sometimes “liberal” foil, sometimes “liberal” fool. And, he hosted — rather miserably — Talk of the Nation for NPR News. So, he has some NPR on-the-job training. But, Juan Williams as fell-time conservative pundit on FoxNews? Or, Juan Williams as disavowed liberal on a conservative network? C’mon now. How long does anyone really believe Juan Williams will last at FoxNews? His rating, after this snit will be pathetic, just like his analysis for NPR and FoxNews, because when it comes to survival on TV, it’s all about ratings, and Juan was a pretty minor character at a tiny news organization in a large media pond. In a few months, he will be even more insignificant.

  • Ann

    Roberto, 10:17 a.m., today (Oct. 25),

    Thanks for your reply. You substantiate your own POV very well; we have different feelings about “free” materials on the web (I’m thinking of NPR and PBS freebies), and I fear that a strident stance from offended listeners to NOT send in their regular donations will throw the baby out with the bath water, but you make your case for Logical Consequences very thoughtfully, and I do enjoy thinking about opposite POV’s. Thanks!

  • John Sheckler

    I believe there is some comparison to be made between the reaction to Juan Williams termination and the statement by President Jimmy Carter that “He had lust in his heart.”

    Were they both over reactions???

  • michael


    Did you hear everything that Juan Williams said on Fox?

    Yea just look at each Friday, that dam liberal David Brooks on ATC, That dam Liberal Byron York (often times) on Diane R. York btw wrote an parstian book against liberals, or Like Last week interviewing Newt G. on this thoughts about this election cycle, How about David F on market place? Matthew Continetti. Or the current (sic) ad from Public Notice playing on WBUR and NPR,


    NPR actually relies on more think tanks and PAC from the right to center than the left

    For analysis, NPR often turned to D.C-based think tanks. Think tanks of the establishment center like the Brookings Institution (11 appearances) and conservatives think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute (eight appearances) were well-represented . Only one group that might be considered left of center (the National Security Archive, with two appearance) was among the 10 think tanks used two or more times. The leading multi-issue think tanks of the left, the Institute for Policy Studies, was never used as a source.


  • michael


    Right, Center Think Tanks Still Most Quoted
    Study of cites debunks “liberal media” claims

    A study of media citations of think tanks in 2004—the 10th year of collecting such data—finds that think tanks of the right and center
    still predominate, despite a slight increase in citations of left-leaning think tanks.
    The study counts citations of the 25 most prominent think tanks of right, center and left, using the Nexis news media database. Citations are
    counted in what Nexis designates to be major newspapers, as well as in Nexis’ transcripts file, which includes the major broadcast and cable
    news outlets. Because stories included in the Nexis database change over time, figures for previous years are recalculated for comparison
    purposes rather than taken from previous editions of the study.
    Conservative or right-leaning think tanks garnered 50 percent of citations among the 25 most-cited think tanks, the same percentage as last
    year, and near their 10-year average of 51 percent of citations. Centrist think tanks declined slightly this year, garnering 33 percent of the
    citations, compared to 37 percent last year and 36 percent as their 10-year average. Progressive or left-leaning think tanks had the greatest
    percentage increase this year, receiving 16 percent of citations, up from last year’s 13 percent and their 10-year average of 14 percent.
    The usual suspects remained on top. The centrist Brookings Institution once again led among all think tanks by a wide margin, and accounted
    for almost half of all centrist citations. The Heritage Foundation regained the second spot from the centrist Council on Foreign Relations, and
    was once again the most prominently cited conservative think tank.
    The conservative/libertarian Cato Institute, whose drop in citations since 2002 coincided with its opposition to the invasion of Iraq, saw the
    biggest percentage gain among the leading think tanks. Cato’s fluctuations suggest that conservative think tanks may pay a price in visibility
    for deviating from the Republican Party line.

  • Rob Jase

    I don’t get why (other than because they’re perpetual whiners about being oppressed) the right-wingers are criticising NPR for firing Williams. Why just this morning I heard a recording of Sarah Palin saying that if an employer is unhappy with an employee they should fire him. NPR is just as much a corporation as Faux News & should have the same rights.

    For virtually my entire life I’ve heard that NPR is leftist.

    Is Car Talk a Marxist show because they encourage folks to repair their cars rather than buy new ones like good capitalists?

  • Donald Moniak

    I agree that FOX News is not a legitimate news outlet, but an advocacy medium. Prominently employed by FOX News are Mike Huckabee, who is quietly running for President again; Sarah Palin, who is loudly running for President while speaking nonstop at partisan rallies exhorting Republicans and lambasting Democrats; and Karl Rove, who is openly raising money on behalf of Republicans.

    What other news outlet employs former politicians in similar roles?

    To top it off, FOX Commentator/Host Bill O’Reilly described FOX News as being “anti-liberal” in one of his syndicated columns.

    How Juan Williams could claim journalistic integrity while profiting from hobnobbing on FOX is beyond me.

  • Don Q. Public

    NPR has been dismissing studies done by FAIR for years. So it even though FAIR studies would support NPR’s position regarding the Juan Williams affair, NPR cannot now use this data to strengthen its case for firing William. Oh the irony, NPR!

    Regarding William on FoxNews; he will become the Black Bernard Goldberg, just not as popular. And eventually, he will be given some pseudo-academic sounding title of “Senior Fellow” at The American Heritage Institute. His specialty, of course, will be “race in American politics” or “race and media studies.”

    Let’s hope that Juan Williams shows up on NPR as a go-to expert in his preferred field. That would make this story come full circle.

    And so, it goes…

  • Barry

    This may be the final straw for the cause that sees the purpose and function of journalism as something more elevated than personal opinion, and the fatal triumph of emotion and self-interest over rationality in the failed evolutionary experiment that gave humans intelligence. It’s patently absurd to compare Fox and NPR relative to the noble ideals of journalism and painful in the extreme to see Tom Ashcroft in this incident not be able to get at the distinction in one of the few places left in the media where something like intelligent discussion still exists. So now it’s everybody to his opinion and let the capital that controls the media determine what actually happens in the real world where real people suffer from the animal impulses of fear and loathing exercised by people whose only goal is to feather their own opulent nests. Sounds like Williams gets his own little nest egg into the bargain, and apparently does not consider having to live amidst the company of people like Bill Riley not too high an ethical price.

  • Sam E.

    Fox News is not a suitable venue for NPR employees to speak on? Ugh…I don’t know if I agree with everythin Juan Williams has ever said but he was one of the few hosts who could speak effectively both on NPR and Fox. The world has gotten a little smaller today and everyone should be sad.

  • Jack Shultzx

    In reply to George Potts

    NPR is a real NEWS organization whereas Fox is NOT.

    FOX is an outlet for right-wing propaganda and an arm of the Republican Party, whose interests and point of view it represents, and to which it also contributes millions of dollars.

    That being said, Juan Williams should have been allowed to make his choice and decide if he wanted to be a journalist or a hack.

    As it turned out, his choice was made for him.

  • Robert Mees

    Why wasn’t Juan invited back to NPR to have a thoughtful measured response on FOX. Rather than using this an an opportunity for an open dialogue, the termination of Juan Williams has a chilling effect on the dialogue at NPR. How can NPR remain relevant without it?

  • Ricky Grisson

    I like Juan Williams. I listened to NPR because of the reporting he and other fine NPR analysts do. I am saddened to see him fired. My support will be withheld for a while until reparations are made.

  • jr

    juan wiiliams needed to go. he was really just a cookie for o’reilly who would pretend to debate his boss with a half-hearted liberal viewpoint. in other words he was a joe morton – nice, safe and non-threatening.

  • Bryan T

    “There’s not a single outlandish lie a Republican congresscritter, spokesperson or candidate can say which would get them not invited onto NPR…[a]ll ideas of [the right] are subjected to the same “on the one hand on the other” crap, and nothing from the right is ever called a lie.” – Posted by ThresherK, 10-25-10, 12:29 pm

    Dear ThresherK,

    Well said: succinct and to the point. I could not agree more. There is far too much coddling and appeasing when it comes to the outrages of the right, with many commentators thoughtlessly repeating the conventional wisdom that “both sides” engage in similar tactics. That is simply not the case. I can’t say it better than Thomas Frank, in his excellent book “The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule.” He states that commentators in the U.S. assume that the left and right are

    “…precise mirror images of each other; that if one is guilty of some misstep, the other is also automatically and equally culpable…[T]o journalists this doctrine of symmetry is especially appealing: It is a shortcut to fairness, an easy way to brush off the accusations of bias that plague them…

    “There is no symmetry. Liberalism…arose out of a long-ago compromise between left-wing social movements and business interests…and does not call for…all-out war on private industry. Conservatism, on the other hand [sic!], speaks not of compromise but of removing its adversaries from the field altogether. While no one dreams of sawing off those branches of the state that protect conservatism’s constituents – the military, the police, the legal privileges granted to corporations – conservatives freely and openly fantasize about doing away with those bits of “big government” that serve liberal ends. And while defunding the left is the north star of the conservative project, no comparable campaign to “defund the right” exists…Liberals are hardly likely to crack down on the Fortune 500 with the same resourceful malevolence that business leaders, with the tacit encouragement of conservative politicians, have made war on labor unions.”

    I do give NPR credit, however, for interviews such as the one with Robert Reich and – especially – Noam Chomsky. I believe they are trying to do the best they can in a time of increasing deference to the right, a time that some analysts on the left (like Chomsky) liken to Weimar Germany. I recommend DemocracyNow or The Real News Network for gloves-off analysis of the issues beholden to no discernable corporate interests.

    Keep up the good, strong writing. Peace.

  • Jim Harrold

    Tom, you are a tough interviewer, and I appreciate your discussion with the NPR Ombudsman today. I am an NPR listener who is disturbed by this entire Juan Williams affair. I am disturbed because NPR is tarnishing its reputation. The more the network leadership attempts to explain this, the worse they look. A few days and several explanations later, this looks like a kneejerk firing by the CEO, who said some ill-advised and immature things (she later apologized), backed up by an ombudsman who finds herself trying to defend this decision. NPR should be a bastion of free speech, but instead finds itself making Fox look like a network of reasonable people–a sad situation.

  • George Potts

    I don’t agree with everyone calling Juan Williams a racist.

  • http://srdash.tumblr.com/ Soumyaranjan Dash

    “Muslim garb”??!! I wish you wouldn’t get more anxious again Mr. Juan Williams!! http://bit.ly/a94Au5

  • George Potts

    Would it have been acceptable if Salman Rushdie made the statements instead of Juan Williams? He has a good reason to be afraid of people in Muslim garb.

  • George Potts

    I am tired of Obama appeasing the radical Muslims.

  • peter nelson

    Juan wasn’t reporting or reading the news.

    He was having a <b<conversation. In it he described an irrational anxiety he shares, I’m sure, with millions of other Americans, all over the political spectrum , no doubt including some people who work at NPR, and also including people I know personally.

    Williams raised this point to address the emotions involved in this issue. You would have to be a complete robot to not realize how important feelings and emotions are to the issues of the day: The Islamic Cultural Center, Gay Marriage, Obamacare, Foreclosures, etc.

    Until we can talk about those emotions, deal with them head-on, we’re never going to come to grips with them.

    The idea of the journalist as some sort of automated golem mindlessly sifting though piles of data and reams of figures to find and report the “objective truth” is complete nonsense. It never existed and it never will! I expect journalists to have a viewpoint and I want to know what it is so I can calibrate their comments.

    Williams’ firing confirms all the stereotypes of NPR as a bunch of politically-correct liberal goody-two-shoes.

    Last year I eliminated my support for NPR’s Boston affliate WGBH because they eliminated major local programming. Now I have to decide about WBUR.

  • Potter

    Fine Peter, then Juan Williams can continue to raise his points on Fox. This was not a matter of Williams waltzing towards legitimate points- it was the conflict between NPR trying to maintain standards of journalism ( particularly with “analysts” they employ) and that analyst engaging in and sucking up to Fox bias and trash talk. This was not about these particular comments so much as a last straw (as was said on the show). Williams was making valid points ultimately but he was also validating ignorant reaction/emotions. He had been warned by PBS about the conflict between his two masters, one interested in quality journalism, the other in propaganda, controversy and bias. As it turns out- Williams was making his choice.

    Anyone not supporting their local PBS station a over this is helping corporate ownership of the news and in the process making an excuse for not shelling out ( probably while continuing to listen). Listener support of PBS is critical, more critical than government support especially if you want more quality in this divided political atmosphere.

  • Ken

    I’m trying to understand my right wing/Republican friends defending this guy (aside from the obvious that they would automatically side against NPR no matter what). This guy is an employee who violated his employers rules to which he had expressly agreed and he got canned. What happened to the Republican impulse to protect the rights of employers? I own a business. If one of my employees were publically associated with my business in the way Juan Williams was with NPR and was saying stuff embarrassing to my brand on TV I’d fire him, too. And I’d expect Republicans to be on my side for it. What happened to Juan Williams “personal responsibility” (another Republican impulse) for his own stupid behavior that got him fired?

    Also, what if a “serious journalist” says, instead, “I’m not sexist or anything, really I’m not, but I have to be honest. When I’m at a red light and I notice the driver next to me is a female driver, I get a little concerned–I get nervous.” We already know from Williams’ own 1986 comments that he does not feel a similar sentiment about black people is acceptable. What about Jews? What if says, “I’m really not antisemitic but when I see a Jewish person in the street I get a little nervous about my money–I check my wallet.” Where does this kind of “truth telling” lead and is it consistent with serious journalism?

  • Beth Walters

    There has been talk during the show about journalists taking a dispassionate, or detached, viewpoint in their work with news organizations such as NPR.

    I would contend, from years of experience as a reporter and editor, that a reporter or commentator may start hewing to that ethic but that it actually becomes not so much a detached viewpoint as one that, from experience, knows every situation is so complex that hipshot opinions don’t wash. The experience of through reporting itself creates a reporter not detached but respectful of the intricacies of every story and every situation.

  • mary

    Laughing at the comments. As for the show…Reminds me why I never listen to anything but Car Talk on NPR–boring and just sooooo intellectual.

    Juan Williams was “doing this” “doing what?”

    The CEO would be fired at any “normal” company. What a ditz. Stirring this up during fundraising week.

  • Philippe

    NPR made 2 big mistakes:

    1st. Firing him for his latest comment.
    2nd. To not having fired him before.

    When I saw him on Fox news, I was asking me who is this little old aggressive man.

    Bravo NPR.
    Now he just won a 2M$ deal. Shut up and say thanks you to the management of NPR.

  • Ross Barentyne-Truluck

    This is such a spurious discussion. NPR is primarily a news organization; Fox is not. Fox is nothing more than a propaganda organization, spewing right-wing hate and idologies constantly. NPR’s biggest mistake was in hiring Juan Williams originally – he was a constant embarrassment to anyone who is interested in serious news.

  • Suzanne

    First, why has this conversation degenerated into a personal attack on NPR, with labels of goody do-gooders, liberal and left, and right and ultraconservative being bandied about? Are these the terms to which all Americans must be now pegged and classified? Can no one lucidly express an opinion without attacking another group? It saddens me that we as adults are setting such poor examples for our youth, and as Americans, conveying such a poor impression to other countries that we are only capable of petty and myopic thinking.

    In terms of firing Juan Williams, it is obvious many listeners have strong feelings on the subject. What this discourse will hopefully bring forth are clearer definitions on the implications of liability when politicians/journalists/employees in the public view express racist or inflammatory views, as well as appropriate termination policies.

  • Jim Thomas

    NPR, you have dissappointed me. No matter what has happened with Juan Williams in the passed, you are wrong on this one. Williams has not said one single thing wrong. If you have policies that say he can’t speak out as he did, you should be repremanded yourself. I listen to Public Radio, as many do, becuse it has allowed the truth to be told. You have now failed us miserably.

  • greg

    NPR was right in firing Juan. He has been a “Fox in sheep’s clothing” for a very long time. He just messed up and let his true thoughts slip out. Oops! See ya Juan!

  • Paul

    Do you understand what Mr. Williams said? Here we have “patented” liberal assuming that if religious person is wearing attributes if his/her faith, then this is a demonstration to others that he is “foremost” not a law abiding citizen of this Country but blind follower of the extreme political wing of the faith and ready for act of terror against his fellow citizens. I believe that this assumption is very offensive regardless what religion your belong.

  • Greg
  • Don Wycliff

    Alicia Shepard and Virginia Schiller keep telling us that Williams’ comments on the O’Reilly show were just the straw that broke the camel’s back, the last in a long train of abuses. But if their judgment about those last-straw comments is reflective of their judgment generally, then I have to wonder how truly objectionable Williams’ earlier statements were.
    I still awake to NPR, but I find myself switching quickly now to the local all-news AM station. I don’t think I’ll feel comfortable with NPR again until Ms. Schiller is gone.

  • D Nur

    NPR should have fired Williams long time ago, he is not a news analyst any more. What he does is agree and say things that the right wingers and fox pundits will want him to say. You cant allow people to use hypocrisy on your name, the fact that you cant say something negative about Christians, Jews, Blacks,Hispanics also applies to Muslims.

  • Don Wycliff

    Apologies. I meant Vivian (not Virginia) Schiller

  • David Morss

    I completely agree with the decision of NPR to let Juan Williams go. His subsequent comments om Fox only confirmed the rational basis of this decision.

    I was a bit (only a bit, given the show’s past leaning towards sensationalism) surprised that Tom Ashcroft devoted so much time to second guessing this conclusion. A great shame for Muslim-Americans that this particular issue was the proximate cause of this generally insensitive guy’s dismissal…

    If there was anything good to come out of this, it was surely the reputation of the NPR ombudsman: she did a great job of explaining the issue in a calm, thoughtful way.

  • Daniele Gerard

    The entire debate has missed the point. If Williams had said what he did about blacks or Jews or Japanese, he would have been roundly excoriated and NPR would have been applauded and the whole story would have died down in a matter of hours. Muslims are the favored punching bag du jour, so it’s okay for Williams to voice his fears about getting on a plane with them.

    And to call Fox a news network or label it conservative and compare it to the more “liberal” NPR is utterly laughable. Fox is a PR arm of the Republican Party and Tea Party; for you to let your guests pretend it is anything else is to treat seriously something that deserves nothing but disdain.

  • Robert

    I can’t comment on NPR’s decision since I don’t know the history w/ Williams before this incident. However, what confuses and surprises me is why Williams would seemingly run into the proverbial arms of FOX after being dismissed by NPR. What’s THAT about! If he considers himself a proponent of journalism that’s not shock-yell-and-awe, why would he JOIN FOX news?! I find that very odd. $2M is attractive of course, but couldn’t he have waited and picked something more respected and still earned a living? Williams has sold out.

  • Opal

    Don’t NPR commentators belong to a union? Are there union regulations regarding this to do? Perhaps Mr. Williams should have been given a warning rather than harshly firing him.

  • Erik

    Political correctness is what’s harming the “neutral” news media. The political bias of a left-leaning news organization often manifests itself in the form of political correctness: the questions not asked and thus the opinions not aired. This can create a divergence in content between ordinary kitchen table conversations and news media conversations, and the result is a suspicion among consumers that the full range of perspective is not getting aired. Being politically correct destroys trust and decreases relevance.

  • Christopher

    NPR should have given Williams a choice long ago: join up with NPR full time and for the long hall, or go to Fox. Fox will pay more money; NPR will confer more honor and dignity.

    Given that mistake, Williams should have been treated more carefully. They should have quietly refused to renew his contract when it lapsed.

    Be it said: NPR journalists and analysts should stay off Fox. Fox engages in relentless race-baiting and fear mongering; they routinely distort the news to further an absurdly cynical business strategy.

  • http://none Amy

    I just heard this whole discussion. I kept hearing the idea that NPR needs to “admit it has a point of view” and balance liberal voices with conservative ones; the admittedly conservative anti-NPR lady even said NPR should abandon its quest for neutrality altogether. So frustrating that no one got at the real point, which is more than right versus left versus middle, and advancing a pre-determined point of view.

    When you think in the “versus” way, you start with a perspective and look for the evidence that supports it. Everything you report is agenda-driven (rather than fact-driven). Thus people with different perspectives will never dialogue and will grow to hate and despise each other’s narrow-mindedness. Why did Tom Ashbrook not confront this deeply flawed approach to thinking?

    The real way to think is start with as much objectivity as possible, gather facts, and THEN craft a point of view on a specific issue. Letting a label do your thinking for you is dangerous. Even if pure objectivity is not possible, one can strive for it by keeping a mind open to the best available facts. I am so sick of this pressure to balance by putting one conservative blah blah head up against one liberal one. He said/She said. (More like He yelled/She yelled.) That’s 100% of what is wrong with American media today, and SADLY I’ve noticed it more and more on NPR. The least you people at NPR can do is balance some conservatives and liberals (people who have made up their mind before the question was asked) with some objectivists (people who try to make decisions based on facts). At least it is my hope that NPR will seek fact-based, thoughtful objectivity every time I make my donation to support it.

  • James Herrick

    Seems to me there are three separate issues here: What Williams said, the context in which he said it, and the firing. What he said was something a lot of people believe, including a lot of NPR listeners if they were to be perfectly honest. It is also what Williams himself apparently believes. The context in which he said it is not a news context at all, but an entertainment context. He probably shouldn’t have been appearing on Fox given NPR’s rules and his status as a news commentator. The firing looks like a mistake to many because what Williams said was magnified and distorted by the odd location in which he said it.

  • http://yahoobuckaroo.blogspot.com/2010/10/juan-williams-was-railroaded.html CW Seper

    I’d like very much to know why Williams was fired for saying what every intelligent American feels about being on a plane with Muslims (I suspect even other Muslims are afraid to fly on a plane with Muslims they don’t know), while someone like Nina Totenberg still has a job after actually saying she hoped General Boykin would get killed in the war?

    Frank Deford and Terry Gross both say something controversial, and often hateful, nearly every week.

    Really NPR, if you want to bill yourselves as somehow offering “objective journalism”, you might want to consider giving back the 1.8 billion dollars you took from liberal kingpin—George Soros….

  • David Dethrow

    I think many are being “played” by Mr. Williams. He is clearly putting his own interests first by pandering to
    those who only care about ratings and themselves.
    Mr.Williams knew what he was doing and who he was catering to and playing all for fools. He is a cmplete hypocrite and a very selfish, shallow person.

    We should ignore Williams and all of the other so called “wanna be” blowhard media stars. I always remember a great quote by Mr. Michael Stipe when asked at the obnoxious grammy awards…”What do you think of Mariah Carey?” His answer was ” Mariah….who?” End of discussion! He made the reporter, Mariah…whoever, as irrelevant.

    Juan who?

  • Rick

    Enjoyed seeing Charles Krauthammer on another show this weekend directly ask NPR CORRESPONDENT (not analyst) Nina Totenberg why Juan was fired and she was allowed to be on other shows and giver her opinion since she isn’t an analyst.

    Nina couldn’t answer the question.

    Great job NPR. Your bias is obvious.

  • peter nelson

    Anyone not supporting their local PBS station a over this is helping corporate ownership of the news and in the process making an excuse for not shelling out ( probably while continuing to listen). Listener support of PBS is critical, more critical than government support especially if you want more quality in this divided political atmosphere.


    The network in question is NPR, not PBS. I never watch or give money to PBS.

    NPR’s fundraising model is obsolete. I wrote to Vivian Schiller about this shortly after she joined NPR and she didn’t even give me courtesy of an answer.

    I don’t listen to WBUR. I listen to individual NPR programs (e.g. OnPoint, Wait Wait, Fresh Air, On The Media, etc) via the internet. I live too far from Boston to have any association with WBUR.

    NPR’s model is based on a local geographic community of supporters funding a local station and some of that money gets funneled up to NPR, and down to other NPR programs. What a kludge!

    That’s very last-century. I do almost all my “radio” listening via streams on my Android phone, driving or at home. The Internet makes it easy to ALWAYS>/b> skip pledge drives! I would prefer to pay for the content I listen to in an efficient scheme that didn’t charge $5 for 50 cents of programming.

    NPR is in deep trouble, funding-wise because they’re model is obsolete. The straw that broke the camel’s back isn’t what Williams said; it was when they fired him

  • joshua

    I think taking a job at Fox news shows his flimsy convictions and dhows how journalists overall have no convictions but follow the money, pawns of fascists. They will say and do anything for money and ratings. America is void of any real ethics. A black hole.

  • joshua

    For all you people who say NPR is the best radio out there you are wrong. Try listening to community radio like KBOO in Portland Oregon. Community radio is truly independent and actually analayzes the world. NPR is funded by transnational corporations and foundations like Cargill and LIberty Mutual. On point is not independent and is hardly listener sponsored. Bush implemented changes at NPR after 911 to more closely resemble his nationalist fascist agenda.

    Check out your local community radio. Ny, Portland, LA have some good community radio stations. They are true journalists that will challenge any party line. BUt if you like your soma–keep taking ONpoint as news analysis and not just plebeian entertainment cloaked as real news.

    Im sure this putz had a deal with Fox from the beginning. Its l corporate. meaningless.

  • Jason

    It is impressive how many people, NPR guests and hosts included, are so impoverished in their ability to differentiate between the concepts of opinion and fact. Mr. Williams did not voice an opinion when he said he gets “worried” when he sees muslims on a plane “identifying themselves first and foremost as muslims.” He voiced an observation, or asserted a fact. The fact he asserted is his typical emotional response to seeing muslims on a plane that he is on. He later iterated his opinion that not all such muslims are extremists. Such confusion between fact and opinion are evidence of the intellectual poverty that NPR’s decision makers are suffering from.

    Luckily there are people in the media who can separate their emotional reactions from their opinion, especially considering the majority of humanity doesn’t seem to be able to do any such thing. Such a rare talent is not only refreshing in a largely intellectually shallow media culture, it is neccesary to understand and react appropriately to the viceral issues that NPR claims to take on.

    The NPR’s firing of Mr. Williams over his intellectual honesty is indicative of NPR’s typical failure mode. That is, NPR gives in depth coverage to issues from a left of center point of view and at times only cursory coverage to the oposing viewpoint.

    The problem with NPR’s assertion that voiceing opinions does not upholding it’s “rigourous” journalistic standards for analysts is at best grossly innacurate, if not laughable. Opinions by hosts and analysts abound on NPR. What does not abound is thourough and deep analysis of contentious issues that get to the heart of the disagreement of the various perspectives. One example that I can think of is Gay marriage. I have never heard a host characterize the debate as anything but a civil rights issue. The problem is that the opposition to gay marriage does not define the issue as one dealing with civil rights. If we are to understand the opposition, rather than simply dismiss their arguments as bigotted, we must understand the arguement against marriage as a civil right. Regardless of where one stands on the issue, the analysis of what exactly marriage is under law, and whether it is a civil right cannot do anything but edify all sides of the conflict. NPR does it’s listeners a disservice by analyzing the issue primarily from the “marriage as a civil right” perspective.

    If NPR is so worried about maintaining its editorial standards it should start by enforcing such standards in its own editorial endeavors. Not by worrying about what FOX News does.

  • Lorraine

    If we want to discuss this issue fully, lets talk about everyone’s deepest feelings. What about white people reaction if a black man walks into an elevator, or a Japanese American after the Peal Harbor attack, or _____ insert whomever in the past and to come in the future. This is what the discussion should be about. We can play the game or feed into the fear and bigotry that is being refined. I am curious to know if anyone ever thought about the age group of the “Tea Party” members. What time in history do they represent and where is that rage coming from for President Obama? Early on we saw the real bigotry protrayed in the signs but again they cleaned up their act. What is the underlying issue.

  • http://Inaworldwhereright-wingzealotsareconsideredtrustworthyarbitersoftruthandscientificfactsaredis-believedbythemasses,realitydoeshavealeft-leaningbias. Jason

    Wow, according to Karl Popper, and most of the scientific world, scientific fact (and by that I assume you mean something scientifically proven to be always true) does not exist. What does exist is well corroborated scientific theory, which has proven to be wrong in most cases to date. If there is anything for sure it is that the current theories on global warming are wrong. What is debateable is how wrong they are. As a sceptic, which is generally a leftist thing to be, I have to say that a religion of science is everybit as uncritical as the most faithbased fundamentalist perspective.

  • Jeanne

    I enjoyed today’s show as I do most of them. Tom is the greatest- an intelligent, polite host. I was irritated at the ombudsman- she was a bit of a scold even with Tom! It made me think that maybe NPR’s critics have a point? I won’t stop listening or contributing though.

  • http://NPR Martha

    I love NPR. I listen to get the liberal perspective. Some days liberal means free, some days it means unbridled. It balances the right wing perspective, which some days means free, some days means killer-religion. That is the reality of it. Left wing thinks they are down-to-earth; right-wing thinks they are down-to-earth. Fact is they are both in the same pot calling the kettle black. It’s great! Tax payers should not have to pay for left-wing agendas, though, which is the point that demands more open perspectives on NPR or you don’t get our money. It is simply not possible for human beings to be unbiased; there are just varying degrees of skill at subduing emotion, better actors but no robots. Intellectual honesty is always better than milk-toast acting.

  • Michael


    These sources generally claim to be non-partisan research
    organizations, while actually slanting their writings toward one party or against another and showing little evidence of any objective research despite their tax-exempt status.

    When they are described as “conservative,” “liberal” or “progressive,”we have an idea of their orientation, but most have misleading or non-descriptive names that often sound similar. A study by California State University researcher Michael Dolny found that right-wing think tanks were quoted more often than liberal ones, and their ideology was identified less often.

    This was pointed out about NPR as well, contrary to what some are saying. Somehow more quoting/citing/interviewing more think tanks from the right than left on news sources like NPR is somehow liberal or ultra liberal and mirrors Fox Cable New

  • frank’s wild years

    Jason you took up a lot of space to post a bunch of hogwash.

    Gee the next time I’m on a plane should I be scared of all the Evangelicals waiting and hoping for Armageddon.

  • Julius

    When they draw back the curtain and the news orginization becomes the news it is seldom pretty – and this was a train wreck.

    Like him or not an employee is owed a face to face for firing after ten years, a chance to explain, and for the boss to keep the character assasination to themselves instead of announcing it to the world as some sort of bizzare parting gift.

    Journalists are people and people have bias, both rational and irrational. Hiding these isn’t the definition of integrity. Not mentioning them does not make them go away. I was able to seperate his punditry on FOX and his analysis on NPR and not confuse the two but the average listener to NPR could not? Both are ‘color commentary’ and neither of these roles qualify as ‘unbiased news reporting’ in the first place. Both require you to run the news through your own personal filter of experience and to draw conclusions. Sometimes from experiences and to conclusions you don’t share with them.

    Should I conclude that everyone at NPR has similar irrational bias and are just better about keeping them hidden because if don’t it will cost them their jobs? I know they’re human so I know they have bias, they just won’t disclose it when it is pertinent? That sounds more like politics than reporting.

    I can’t stand O’Reilly but at least I know who he really is and why he’s telling me something – there’s no hidden to his agenda.

  • David

    I will miss Juan Williams’ thoughtful political commentary. I found it hard to credit my ears while listening to Alicia Shepard, NPR’s ombudsman. She spent more time indicting the tenor of Bill O’Reilly than she did explaining why Mr. Williams was let go. Bill O’Reilly’s manner is not my cup of tea but he’s out there, has a following, and, at times, he even makes good arguments. That an emissary from the polite world of NPR discussion could visit Fox, present a more liberal view that O’Reilly’s partisans are accustomed to, and give as good as he got in the yelling arena that arises on the show seems like a good, not a bad thing.

  • Joan

    Juan Williams should sue NPR…..

    Juan Williams should sue NPR for violating his right
    to free speech. How shocking it was to hear the pre-sident of NPR programing on the show this morning
    failing to uphold his right to free speech to the listenership…

    There was nothing more important she should have been
    doing on the show this morning either instead of cow-ing to conservative callers with their reminders of
    the 7% percent in public funding that NPR receives.

    I say to hell with the 7% percent in public funding at this stage and go to the listeners who can accept and appreciate dissending voices. That’s what good radio and the media should stand for also.

    I know many of my friends and colleagues on the left have left NPR and the New York Times and Washington
    Post and many of the major nightly TV news broadcasts behind because of their reporters failure to challenge the policies of the Bush Camp repeatedly during the last 8 years and condemn his illegal war on Iraq and now Obama’s illegal war on Afghanistan…

    And of course, the Wikileaks exposes how this whole
    complicity by the media to deliver the truth also.

    Not to mention how those conflicts are placing enormous financial burden on US tax payers and undermining their national security and civil liberties and right to pros-perty, also.

    I should add here –the Israeli / Palestinian con-
    flict which is currently unconditionally supported
    by the American oligrachy in defiance of the American people.

    Poll after poll show how Americans want even handness in this conflict instead of sucking up to Israel and
    letting it off the hook over crimes against the Pale-stinian people & their historic homeland in Palestine.

    How shameful and immoral those in the media look today emphasizing Israeli rights while the Palestinian people
    are being savagely oppressed and killed and expelled
    from their homes by the land thieves and war mongers
    in Israel with American aid and weapons.

    This is the other great crime of the 20th century
    which must end before there is rioting on American
    streets and outside Israeli embassies…

    All the more reason for dissending voices instead of toeing the line to conservatives and harmful government policies! Joan

  • miro

    The most frustrating thing about listening to the show was that Alicia Shepard never listed all that long line of previous run-ins that Williams had had with NPR. It kept coming up that there was such a long list, but we never heard it. The show had me yelling at my car radio to give us other examples.

    Whoever was producing the show should have made sure that this point was addressed — it was the whole basis of Shepard’s argument that it wasn’t just about this one remark. It would have been more useful if we could have heard about this alleged pattern of behavior, instead of always going back to the “I’m not a bigot, but…” sequence.

    Talk about liberal bias — where on this program was the counterbalance to Mona Charen? Williams is no liberal, and NPR is not liberally biased, unless you count raw, flat facts as liberal-slanted. Why didn’t we hear that Williams was the only NPR journalist that Bush considered safe enough to allow an interview?

    The firing was a travesty and a disaster for NPR and all the local stations, who will suffer for this hamhanded, politically deaf kneejerk reaction (support your local station — it’s not their fault that incompetent people run the national PBS network). PBS CEO Vivian Schiller should resign, they should reinstate Williams for the rest of his contract, and then they should not rehire him of they don’t like the way he behaves.

  • steve e.

    Juan Williams told the truth and got punished for it. Who in their right mind doesn’t get nervous when they get on a plane and see someone in Muslim garb? Nobody but Muslim garbed individuals have blown up planes since Islamic jihad became full scale in 1976 with the Achille Lauro incident which was on a cruise ship but was the first actual terrorist act of this 35 year cycle. NPR chooses to live in denial in their sugar coated flowery world and run away from reality. And all these idiot emailers have the gall to say that NPR has the highest journalistic standards. Typical liberal elitist pablum, as untrue and worthless as fecal matter.

  • http://npr J

    Juan Williams’ firing was corporate thinking at its finest, a knee jerk reaction. Mr. Williams obviusly angered someone high on the food chain for his appearance on Fox and was gone. And for that action, NPR is going to have to take its lumps.
    A better way would have been to talk to him about his appearance and not renew his contract at review time/end of contract.
    Historically, despite Mr. Williams’ obvious talent, it has been considered a no-no to appear on your competitor’s outlet.
    It always has been a sticky situation to fire a radio/television on-air personality. When Arthur Godfrey fired Julius LaRossa, members of Congress wanted to investigate.
    On the subject of news and journalism; It used to be that journalism was fair and impartial. That maxium was the gold standard. Today, there are many so-called journalists who inject their feelings and opinions into their work. Some cry on the air. Instead of being fair & imparial, there seems to be a call for feelings and opinions dressed up as news, the more the merrier. Maybe the pendulum will start to swing back the other way.
    On representation on Public Radio ; There is nothiing in my reading in the Public Radio Act which states that individual groups have to given a voice. Conservatives seem to have this wrong headed notion that they should get a voice on Public Radio because their tax dollars help pay the cost of Public Radio. This idea is like saying you should have the right to drive down a road first because your tax dollars help build & maintain that road. This is folly.
    If such were the case, every group or self interest would demand a voice on Public Radio. Public Radio would become a audio Tower Of Babel.
    On mistakes; Nobody is perfect. Hopefully, NPR can pick itself back up (after falling down on this Juan Williams matter), dusted itself off and continue forward.
    Basically, NPR is like the man who once said, “When I do a good job, it is a great job. When I make a mistake, it is a great mistake.
    Also, like the man who said, “Stay tuned, there’s more to come.”

  • Potter

    Peter: NPR is in deep trouble, funding-wise because they’re model is obsolete. The straw that broke the camel’s back isn’t what Williams said; it was when they fired him…………..

    …..I don’t listen to WBUR. I listen to individual NPR programs (e.g. OnPoint, Wait Wait, Fresh Air, On The Media, etc) via the internet. I live too far from Boston to have any association with WBUR.

    ( correct-not PBS but NPR) But to your reasoning- then NPR should not get your support because you think their business model is obsolete?It’s so “last century” That has what to do with Juan Williams firing? Journalistic standards is the issue I thought. So if they had a better business model you would support them and now you can feel more justified to freeload on the internet because you are so angry they fired Juan Williams for participating in the Fox circus while calling himself an NPR analyst after being warned? And turns out you are also angry that Vivian Schiller did not answer you.

    If you listen to On Point OR if you stream from WBUR or download podcasts- you have an association with WBUR. If you listen in your radio you have an association.

    From <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2010/10/juan-williams-and-the-million-to-1-fear.html&quot; Juan Williams and the Million to 1 Fear

    Let’s face it, Juan Williams said nothing that a lot of other Americans didn’t already think. That is the one saving grace of this sorry episode. If we look at it closely, Williams was not sanctioned for climbing the pedestal of “punditry” while “nervous,” but for descending it to confess the insecurity he shares with the average Joe, warts and all……

    ….As a pundit, Williams has written and spoken against stereotyping minorities. He has decried the fact that blacks were denied entry into the posh jewelry establishments of Washington, D.C., on account of the presumed risk a small minority of them posed to these stores. As an average Juan, however, he suspects that Muslims on his flight are more likely to come from a 1,000 or so Islamic terrorists than from the 1,000 million or so peaceful adherents of the faith. But this same mind is never prompted to caution against middle-class white man, although 85 percent of serial killers are white, middle-class, clean-cut Americans.

    After Williams’s expectoration that revealed his anti-Muslim “nervousness,” may we not expect a bevy of blonde, red-clad Fox commentators who applaud his defiance of political correctness to come forth and open up about their own fear of entering an empty elevator or subway car with a burly black man? If this doesn’t happen, and it will not, we must point out the inconsistency. Muslims are not the guinea pigs of a “nervous” America’s rejection of political correctness.

  • Potter

    The link from Frontline (opinion) above: Juan Williams and the Million to 1 Fear

  • JL

    I listened to the rebroadcast of the show last night. the ombusdman for NPR was pretty cranky and on edge. I don’t think she did a good job of clarifying NPR’s position or articulating williams negative role at NPR.

    I don’t buy the argument that she fielded complaints about Williams since her arrival as a good reason to let him go.

  • jeffe

    steve e you should get your facts straight. The terrorist who were responsible for 9/11 were dressed in western garb. Some of them did not seem to be that religious in terms of following the Islam in the orthodox manner you describe.

    I don’t have these thoughts when I see Muslim women who dress in traditional clothing. I can’t tell about the men I see in airports or on planes as they are dressed in western clothing.

    As for Joan your antics are pathetic.

    It seems to me after listening to this show and the amount of comments here that NPR has made a grave mistake. I agree with criticism of Alicia Shepard who seemed defensive and did not have any good answers.

    Williams should have been given a stern warning and if he wanted to resign that would have been a better out.
    Fire him has made NPR look like fools.

    I also think this sheds a light on the new President of NPR who seems to have created a lot of these issues.
    Maybe she should go.

  • chris

    NPR should not have fired him. It only provides evidence that they are staunchly leftist in full speech-control mode. It’s almost funny to watch the weird semantic contortions they twist into to justify it.

    While I support the government defunding CPB, I will continue to support WBUR because I’m able to filter out the leftwing slant and still enjoy a lot of the programs. But you guys aren’t making it easy.

    Tom, I really think you’re the best host on radio. But COME ON! Jack Beatty is straight from the freaking Soviet Politburo! You can’t keep a straight face while you claim that your show is somehow neutral? I love you but you’re being dumb on that one.

  • Catherine

    Have to agree with Chris who posted right before me. “Jack Beatty is straight from the Freaking Soviet Politburo” is a little extreme, but he was the one person I immediatly thought about as a person who expresses his left leaning opinions all the time.

    But I still love your show!

  • Albert from Brooklyn

    “At the end of the day, Juan could no longer straddle both sides of the fence.

    Juan possesed an innate ability to be a fair and rational minded journalist when on NPR, PURPOSELY opting to save his malicious and over the top pathos driven rants for Fox News. At some point, his presence at NPR would taint their reputation.They did what they had to do, because I stopped listening to Juan years ago because he speaks out of both sides of his mouth with a forked tongue.

    His intellectual dishonesty board game finally got overturned. GOOD”

  • zack

    I despise Fox News, but at least I’m not forced to pay for it with tax dollars. NPR has every right to fire Juan Williams because he said something politically incorrect. Just as ABC has every right to fire Bill Maher for remarks me made about 9/11. It should be our right as taxpayers not to be forced to subsidize NPR’s agenda, which in my view leans left, statist, big-government, and corporatist. Full disclosure – I tend toward libertarian.

  • d’Arcy

    I agree in part with the early post – that it would be nice if posters would (could?) spell correctly. But I find that to be a failing of commentators on all sides, not just conservatives.

    As for the show’s content:

    It would be most interesting to read NPR’s job description for ombudsman. The dictionary definition is of one who investigates citizen complaints against government officials or of customer complaints against corporate officials and actions. For example, a newspaper’s ombudsman would check into things if a circulation manager “dissed” a customer who complained that his paper wasn’t delivered. Yet on this show, and on “Talk of the Nation” Oct. 21, Ms. Shepard seemed to be more of a spokesperson or PR person than an investigator.

    As for Juan (not Ron) Williams’s comment on FOX, people do get nervous when they encounter “the other” when boarding a plane, or sometimes even walking down the street. Sure, the 9/11 hijackers wore western clothes, but they could have worn a burnoose or a burqa just as well.

    I did find M. Shepard’s assertion that NPR is balanced laughable. The only support I see for her position is that there seems to be almost as many complaints of NPR’s right-wing bias as of its left-wing bias. I put NPR about a consistent 45 degrees to the left. Ms. Shepard supported her assertion by stating that they have conservative guests as well as liberal guests. What she didn’t say – it would have been a lie – is that conservative and liberal guests are treated equally. Take a listen to Morning Edition and check out how Steve Inskeep tosses softballs to liberal guests and hardballs to conservative guests, seldom giving the latter a chance to reply before badgering them for an answer that suits Inskeep’s bias.

    Why do I listen to NPR? Because in between the opinions and personal, and probably corporate, bias I usually find enough data to form a complete enough world-picture to build my own opinions. (An exception is the recent “Health Care” bill. On that matter it was as though NPR was obligated to sell it.)

  • Michael

    “Take a listen to Morning Edition and check out how Steve Inskeep tosses softballs to liberal guests and hardballs to conservative guests,”

    yet your own assertion of the above statement is clearly an lie as well, as seen from the Interview of Meg Whitman (an Conservative btw) and softball questions directed her way by Frank James, also just today NPR took down and posted an link to another source on the Rand Paul Supporter Male who works on Paul campaign and stomping the head of an moveon.org female

    Put hey he apologize (sort of)
    Profitt apologized — sort of — while claiming that his stomping on a woman’s face only looked bad because of the camera angles.

    As for the others involved in the assault? Bloggers — including Tea Party members — seem to have identified one of the men who held Valle down while Profitt stepped on her head. The guy is named Mike Pezzano and, yes, while he aided in the attack he was literally wearing a “Don’t Tread on Me” pin.

    Valle was diagnosed with mild sprains and a concussion, and said to reporters that her attackers threatened to “take someone out” before they wrestled her to the ground. She is scheduled to appear on MSNBC’s “Countdown” tonight.

    The Paul campaign fired Profitt and banned him from future events. And, of course, there is a picture of Paul with the head-stomper himself.

    amazing how NPR choose not to report this or cover it today must be that liberal biased working there :)



  • Michael

    Interviewed by Michelle Norris for Meg Whitman, and correction for Rand Paul they put the link back up around 12 to 1pm


    This is what they had before,


  • Francine

    I don’t think he should have been fired for making that comment, even though it was stupid and based on irrational fears. A simple reprimand and perhaps a little enlightenment was all he needed. Now his comments will only get worse and reach a completely unenlightened audience.

    His greater sin is to move over to Fox “News”, where he will be trained to become an absolute bigot supreme. Even if you’re bitter about being fired, moving to Fox is like selling your soul to the devil.

  • Sam Osborne

    Williams should have been given an opportunity to explain. Independent of the saintly (likely not a requirement for working for or listening to NPR), most of us humans harbor some biased outlook or taste of which we are not too proud—I can’t stand tuna and noodles, yuck!

    If we are totally honest we might admit them and explain that our mini-phobia is totally irrational and that we fight against the knee-jerk reactions that they can induce. I suspect this was the underlying goad that caused Williams to say what he did under the circumstances that he uttered it (Fox considers its bents and distortions to be positions of immutable truth and admirable reflections of great value).

    O’Reilly’s Factor is sensed by my eye and ears much the same way as tuna and noodles impacts my taste and smell, yuck! So be honest NPR, you blew it; or best start promoting your broadcast service as the National Public Factor.

  • non-entity

    this debate is so shallow–it is complete nonsense.

    There is no mainstream media coompany in America on the left–nonsense. Its all center-right to far right. There is no objectivity. NPR is certainly the most balanced mainstream radio station but it is shallow and often a waste of time. Fox certainly wouldnt allow anyone to say the war is a lie and a crime agains thumanity. What radio station in America would? All mainstream media is monitored by fascist police and fed by governemnt–pure propaganda and misinformation–making this argument completely irrational and laughbale.

    People lean to the left when they touch on the truth or tell the truth. The left equals logic, reason, humanity, compassion, wisdom. The right is and always has been complete nonsense. To say otherwise is just wrong. Those in the center are ignorant and cowardly. Those on the right are completely insane and living in a irrational brainwashed dreamworld –that is psychotic.

    If you want to listen to objective reasoning and truth and real news and analaysis you should be listening to indepndent radio, community radio–true democracy.

    How can any institution be democratic or represent democracy or free press if its financed by corporations? it can not. So to listen to it is to ignore the truth. It is to willfully choose lies.

    Any other view of the world is simply wrong, bias, and irrational.

  • non-entity

    Come on NPR–there’s nothing green about propane. And you are not supported by we the listeners. You take money from very powerful multinational companies. You are supported by propane and Cargill and Liberty mutual–what a joke! Why do you lie?

  • Steve Rybicki

    Tom, I am a regular listener to On Point. I especially appreciate the wonderfully diverse and eclectic subject matters of your programs, and your own personal enthusiasm for the topics at hand. I regret that NPR has chosen to stifle the voice of Juan Williams. We are all lessened when any voice for reason is not given a forum. I like to hear all sides of an issue. NPR needs to reconsider the ramifications of this action.

  • Carlo

    Wow, just listened to Alicia Williams. She is really disappointing to hear. She wreaks of elitism and really sums up why the Liberal party can’t identify with anyone in the middle class. She doesn’t like the forum because they raise their voice? Kudos Tom for following up with the question “That’s a firable offense to be in a forum where people yell at each other?” It’s why you show is great Tom, you really look hard at both sides of the story.

    Alicia, you need to realize that discourse can be passionate it doesn’t all have to be with a stick up your keister and a silverspoon in you mouth. Oops! I said keister, time for NPR to censor this comment. It’s not proper.

  • Christopher

    What I don’t understand is why NPR gave Williams a Fox-style firing instead of an NPR-style sit-down conversation.

    “Mr. Williams, it’s time to choose. Come on board with NPR, appear on our shows, and offer our listeners — who expect only excellence from us — the benefit of your many years in journalism to give high quality news analysis. Or, let’s part ways amicably, and we’ll invite you back as a guest from time to time. What do you say?”

    Because it WAS time for Juan Williams to choose. It was unseemly to have him exchanging opinions and engaging in shouting matches with blowhards and bigots. He was using his own credibility AND the credibility of NPR to dignify the squalors of a race-baiting, fear-mongering, mud-slinging propaganda outfit.

    Unfortunately, the way NPR handled this gave the frenzy makers at Fox perfect fodder for their phony outrage.

  • Christopher

    By the way, if anyone thinks Mona Simpson or any other conservative pundit will be satisfied with NPR until it becomes Fox News — Goldline commercials and all — they’re insane.

    Anyway, there doesn’t seem much more point in arguing now that Karl Rove has informed us all that 45% of NPR listeners are Saddam Hussein!


    Maybe this explains why these guys had such bad luck in Iraq?

  • potter

    I just listened to the episode of Bill O’Reilly ( on youtube) with Juan Williams plus another Fox analyst and I hear Williams saying the now famous lines. But the discussion that follows is so muddled and filled with each one talking over the other that the mitigating points are not really made by Juan. O’Reilly gets HIS point in and is also clearly putting Juan down for being a liberal from NPR. To me the discussion seemed to end sanctioning the anti-Muslim feelings.

  • Justin

    NPR often displays a liberal, intellectual bias that occasionally comes off as condescending. Never the less, it clearly strives for the type of in-depth, thoughtful reporting that is rapidly vanishing from the media landscape. Unfortunately this is not the type of reporting that seems to attract the loudest and most belligerent of conservatives. Maybe if more of this crowd listened and donated to NPR, there would be a greater diversity of perspectives in their reporting and they would appreciate the benefits of what they do.

    It should also be said that Tom Ashbrook does stick out among the NPR personalities and reporting in his pursuit of objectivity. If a conservative who bemoans NPR listened to this show regularly and felt that it it was unfair and had an unacceptable amount of bias, than they truly have a warped perspective. NPR is not a monolith and should find a way to extricate itself from the culture wars by any means necessary. On Point would be a good place to start looking for these means.

  • Mark

    I do not like the left biased reporting and suppression of thought espoused by NPR. I don’t like the combative style and superficial reporting espoused by Fox. However, I do not think NPR will benefit from entering into this “Fox versus NPR” childishness. This country needs a thoughtful analytical news outlet that deals with topics in an open-minded way and just does not “preach to the converted”. Please think about this.

  • joshua

    if you think NPR is liberal you are the converted. NPR represents the fringe of the party line-which is wholly on the right.

    Please define what you think is “liberal”? Liberal what?

  • http://joeballou.blogspot.com/ Joe Ballou, NY

    One critical word was noticeably absent from this whole discussion: analysis. In all the debate about facts vs. opinion we need to remember that the role of pundits, public intellectuals and news hosts is to provide the listener with insight because of the presentation of new information and ANALYSIS. The expression of opinion has very limited value: rhetoric and admission of bias; otherwise we need to elevate the importance of analysis at the expense of widely broadcasting unsubstantiated opinions.

  • rascalofearth

    notice what all the people slamming NPR have in common….palin, newt, huckster….they are ALL FOX EMPLOYEES

  • http://www.taoofboo.com g. martinez cabrera

    I understand that NPR has the right to fire an employee, but the timing leaves public radio in a precarious situation. It seems as if they are punishing someone for saying something heartfelt, which is not to say it was ok. But I think that’s the point Mr. William was trying to make. He was admitting to feelings that are not ideal and probably based on ignorance, but he was trying to work through those feelings with a viewership who probably need to work through those same feelings.

    If NPR wanted to fire Mr. Williams, fine. But to do so in this episode makes it seem like we don’t want to have painful conversations in public, which is the only real way we can get past our prejudices–whether they be religious, racial or anything else.

  • http://npr libertylady

    I thought NPR was objective until I listened to a program this spring on education in the US, and throughout the discussion about racial inequity in schools and test scores I heard constant derogitory remarks made about “white, suburban teachers”. Apparently being white makes you ineffective to teacher because you don’t have an “ethnic” background. I was really disappointed in NPR for accepting this type of racism. Juan Williams comment was not so much racist as stereotyping. If banks all over your city were being help up by someone in a gorilla suit, would you not be a little concerned walking into a bank one day and seeing someone wearing a gorilla suit?

  • Butch

    “Of all the NPR reporters JW is the ONLY one who let his political leanings known in his reporting. It irked me to no end to hear comments that left no doubt of his conservative leanings. The guests on NPR get to make their opinions known-but the interviewers should not. I am glad he is gone from NPr and as I NEVER watch Fox the only time I’ll hopefully have to hear about him is on Keith Olberman’s Worst list!!”

  • Mr. AlwaysCorrect

    We must discriminate every day our lives. We discriminate against something to make a choice.

    We might choose not to go on an airplane full of people with “Muslim Garb” and choose to go to a plane without any Muslims. It’s not because they “smell.” It’s not because of their “skin color.” It’s not because their “brain is too small.” It’s because we are concerned for our safety and don’t want to subject ourselves to potential risk of death on a plane full of Muslims.

    We discriminate… and choose the safer plane, always.

  • Greg

    Let’s cut to the chase here…..NPR has blatantly discriminated against their “News Analyst” Juan Williams. Supposedly Williams violated NPR dictates that it’s “News Analysts” should not express ‘personal opinions’ that some might interpet as being ‘controversial’. Fair enough.

    But OTHER NPR News Analysts have violated this rule on a number of occasions…..namely Cokie Roberts and Ted Koppel.(Who are both listed as News Analysts on the NPR website.) Just recently, Ms Roberts opined that Glenn Beck was a ‘circus clown’ and that he is ‘more like a terrorist’. Now regardless of your opinion of Beck, Roberts was clearly expressing a personal opinion that many citizens would undoubtedly find to be controversial and offensive. Earlier (in discussing film director Roman Polanski) , she said (again, personal opinion) “Just take him out and shoot him,”
    There is no evidence that Ms Roberts has been warned or disciplined in any way for such ‘opinions’…..a practice that she has engaged in for years.
    Yes, NPR can fire Mr Williams for ’cause’….but if NPR winks at the very same behavior by fellow News Analysts Cokie Roberts, etc, …..then it is patently guilty of gross discrimination. Period.

  • Will


    BOO! Damn scary conspiracies against NPR! LOL Good night for it!

    Please quit deluding yourself. NPR received 387 e-mails/comments about Williams in 2009 (accoring to that biased Shepard person). SOME called for his firing. NPR complied. NPR received nearly 20,000 e-mails/comments on the firing of Williams. The majority called for the firing of Schiller (and the biased, conflicted Ombudsman, Shepard) and they are still at NPR. What’s up with that?? Plus many polls from the left, center and right clearly depict a 70-30 split AGAINST the Williams Firing. And if NPR had any confidence, they would put the following Polls on their site:

    A- Should Williams have been Fired?
    B- Should Schiller be Fired?
    C- Should Shepard be Fired?
    D- Is NPR biased to the Left?
    E- Should NPR/PBS receive Federal Funds?
    F- Should the Networks Fund NPR?

    They don’t have the cojones because they FEAR THE RESULTS. How a bout a clue from a WashPost Poll today:


    Ooops. 71% AGAINST that nonsense.

    NPR should exist. The Govt SHOULD NOT Fund it. And Schiller should be fired. By phone, at night. And then be told to see her psychiatrist!

  • Fran B. Reed, S.A.G.

    Immigration Reform will help all of us in US as I explain in
    my book. Also, I tell the stories of immigrant families from around the world I’ve worked with for 55 yrs.I tell of their harrowing arrivals, their work, joys, loves-sometimes slavery,
    and how their lives and mine intertwined. We Are Not The
    Enemy; We Come Only With Our Dreams. I’ve translted at
    US Consulates and Immigration offices, and I feel their feelings
    in my innermost being. I’d like to share their stories and how
    their gaining citizenship will help us all. ML888888@aol.com

Aug 29, 2014
Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

War moves over Syria, Ukraine. Burger King moves to Canada. Nine-year-olds and Uzis. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Aug 29, 2014
Beyoncé performs at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Getty)

Sex, power and Beyoncé’s feminism. The message to young women.

Aug 28, 2014
Some of the hundreds of earthquake damaged wine barrels cover and toppled a pair of forklifts at the Kieu Hoang Winery, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Napa, Calif. A powerful earthquake that struck the heart of California's wine country caught many people sound asleep, sending dressers, mirrors and pictures crashing down around them and toppling wine bottles in vineyards around the region. (AP)

Drought in California, earthquake in Napa. We look at broken bottles and the health of the American wine industry.

Aug 28, 2014
Photos surround the casket of Michael Brown before the start of his funeral at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014.  (AP)

The message that will last out of Ferguson with New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb.

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