The widespread outrage over the firing of National Public Radio commentator Juan Williams apparently made NPR realize it goofed. The company isn’t asking Williams to come back, and it isn’t apologizing to him for showing him the door. But NPR CEO Vivian Schiller wrote a letter to colleagues Sunday apologizing for how the dismissal was handled, Politico reports
. Williams was fired last week for saying during an interview on Fox News that he becomes nervous when boarding a plane with people who are clearly Muslims, even though he also decried bigotry.
After the firing, criticism rained down on NPR from all sides — right and left, friend and foe, in the business and outside, political and bipartisan, including promises of congressional investigations because NPR receives public tax dollars.
“I want to apologize for not doing a better job of handling the termination of our relationship with … Williams,” Schiller wrote.
“While we stand firmly behind that decision, I regret that we did not take the time to prepare our program partners and provide you with the tools to cope with the fallout from this episode.”
So why was Williams dumped? His comments on Fox News Oct. 18 "were the latest in a series of deeply troubling incidents over several years. In each of those instances, he was contacted and the incident was discussed with him,” she wrote.
“He was explicitly and repeatedly asked to respect NPR's standards and to avoid expressing strong personal opinions on controversial subjects in public settings, as that is inconsistent with his role as an NPR news analyst. After this latest incident, we felt compelled to act.”
One thing Schiller did apologize for last week was her snide comment that Williams should have kept his feelings about Muslims between himself and "his psychiatrist or his publicist — take your pick." She subsequently posted a comment on NPR’s website apologizing to him for what she described as the "thoughtless" remark about a psychiatrist.
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