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NPR Apologizes…But Not to Williams

October 25, 2010

NPR CEO Vivian Schiller has issued an apology in the Juan Williams firing incident. The mia culpa, however, is not addressed to Williams, but to employees who are “on the front lines every day” and are dealing with the fallout.

“I want to apologize for not doing a better job of handling the termination of our relationship with news analyst Juan Williams,” the letter addressed to employees, and obtained by Politico, begins. “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.”

Schiller goes on to say that the decision was made to “protect NPR’s integrity and values,“ and that Williams routinely engaged in ”deeply troubling” incidents that violated NPR’s standards.

What were the egregious acts that violated NPR’s standards? According to Schiller, it was Williams expressing his opinions: “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.” [Emphasis added]

Recognizing that many have questioned the timing of the firings, including Glenn Beck who has noticed that the axing come at the same time as liberal financier George Soros donated $1.8 million to the news outlet, Schiller somewhat surprisingly suggests that instead of waiting to fire Williams she may be culpable for not firing him earlier:

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