WBUR’s General Manager On The Juan Williams Firing

WBUR General Manager Paul La Camera released the following statement on the firing of news analyst Juan Williams by NPR.

While these events can always be handled better, the decision by the management of NPR to separate Juan Williams was obviously not based on a single debatable episode but rather on a series of breaches in recent periods that brought into question the journalistic integrity of NPR.

This decision was appropriately made on the national level and without the consultation or involvement of independent local stations like WBUR.

It is important to note that NPR and WBUR are separate entities. Content on WBUR comprises a variety of national and local sources, one of which is NPR. However, a plurality of our station’s programming originates here in Boston, including On Point, Here & Now, Radio Boston and the work of WBUR’s 30-person newsroom dedicated to reporting local content that is interwoven throughout the day.

Journalistic integrity and trust are the absolute bedrock principles of any news organization. We at WBUR support NPR or any news organization for that matter in its determination to protect those hallmarks.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on wbur.org.
  • John

    “the decision by the management of NPR to separate Juan Williams was obviously not based on a single debatable episode but rather on a series of breaches in recent periods that brought into question the journalistic integrity of NPR.” wasn’t the reason according to NPR (from the link on this page):

    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.

  • Zabeth Billingham

    Though I do not approve of Juan William’s choice to make the statement he did on Bill O’Reilly’s show, I so wish the management of NPR had handled the situation with more forethought. I count on public radio for careful, balanced and thoughtful analysis.

  • Eileen Sullivan

    You state that “these events can always be handled better”. One would think that an organization like NPR would have given Mr. Williams an opportunity to justify his remarks. The way that NPR handled the matter by pouncing on Mr. Williams only substantiates the attitude of those on the right that NPR is too politically correct. Mr. Williams, on the few occasions that I viewed him on Fox News, always appeared a bit uncomfortable with his role there. Now, NPR has delivered him to Fox where he will be rewarded with a substantial contract and more face time. I have heard journalists on NPR make comments that certainly leaned in the direction of opinion. In short, I think NPR made the wrong move in this situation.

  • Kate

    Check your math– it appears that a majority of WBUR’s programming does NOT originate in Boston as fewer than 12 hours a day are devoted to Boston originated content.

    Fair to attempt to separate WBUR from NPR, but as certainly the plurality and likely the vast majority of your listeners get their NPR content from WBUR, perception once again may be more important than fact. How many of your listeners would you lose without any NPR programming?

  • Sandra

    NPR did the right thing firing Williams. FOX NEWS AND NPR CANNOT GO HAND IN HAND – PERIOD!!! A person who associates himself with fox channel which gives one sided picture portrayed by hard core right wing fundamentalist cannot be an analyst at NPR.
    Today he talks about Muslim, next day he will say he is scared to see a Sikh wearing turban who looks like a Muslim.
    NPR is a great news media which tries to maintain its unbiased ground. It did the righ thing by firing Williams!!!

  • Jason Kroll

    The decision to fire Juan Williams seems to be poorly thought out. His work and reputation over the years clearly do not reflect the way his comments were reported. More over they seem to be taken out of context to the overall interview. Poorly chosen words, yes but his broader point was in direct contradiction to what he said.

    I would have expected NPR to let him explain or apologize but this seems like an over reaction. Picking one line from the interview and taking it out of context to the broader point is at best amateur and at worst reflects the same poor journalism that William’ now current employer’ pundits routinely engage in. I believe NPR is better then this…

  • Jim

    Guess what, WBUR? I love your programming, listen to WBUR constantly, and have contributed before. I now refuse to contribute to WGBH because they provided their member list to the Democratic National Committee – I guess Republicans like myself don’t listen to public radio. Now, I find myself refusing to contribute to WBUR because of NPR’s insensitivity regarding Juan Williams’ firing. I’m quite sure that others feel the same as do I.

  • Karl

    By no means am I a significant donor but I have consistently participated in pledge drives at a base level over the past several years.
    No more.
    The firing of a moderate voice in the current political environment which is so charged with vitriolic hate from the far right and left is beyond stunning to me.
    That NPR’s CEO would publicly state that what Juan Williams said should have been kept between himself and his psycho analyst (paraphrasing) is an absolute embarrassment.
    Until NPR’s CEO apologizes and resigns, I’m done supporting NPR and WBUR by extension. It saddens me greatly because I’m tired of the likes of MSNBC and Fox screaming and seeding hate and discord. I have respected WBUR/NPR for being a typically reliable source for a left of center perspective but always a thoughtful resource for high quality news, information, opinion and entertainment. Now unfortunately you’ve joined the ranks of Keith Olbermann and the overly PC fringe of the far left. You’re not defaulting to his lunatic tone, but you’re muzzling/censoring a true moderate and sensible voice at a time when we’re in desperate short supply of that perspective. The effect is chilling. Worse yet you’ve provided fodder for the loons of the far right who are seizing on this as yet another shining example of the liberals censoring their own who don’t support their agenda. And god help you when the conservatives retake the house and strive to cut NPR funding because of actions like this.

    Please do some sensible damage control and correct the err of NPR’s ways.

  • paul pobor

    npr is so completely out of touch with the people. they have the arrogance to not allow any opinion which strays from their rigid far-left stance. remember the liberal slogan,” dissent is the highest form of patriotism” ? evidently , it only applies to any other opinion than npr’s.

  • Arthur Rubin

    Firing Juan Williams shows NPR’s true politial bias. No Independents, Moderates or Right wing thinkers are permitted. No political diversity allowed. NPR Should have no right to use the word ‘PUBLIC’ in their name because they don’t support the thinking of the general public And Paul le Camera should be ashamed for supporting this stupid ‘firing’. I wish he had the courage to denounce it. Guess he’s part of the same NPR crowd. And by the way, I voted for Obama, Kerry, Gore, and Clinton.

  • Thomas Vu

    Poor explanation, and is tantamount to the “let them eat cake…” Paul, et al have no idea how outraged much of the listening public was on Juan’s firing. “Handled better?!?” Excuse me? Ellen’s awful comments questioning Juan’s mental state? How was that proper commentary on the situation.

    WBUR and its tepid, cowardly defense of NPR’s stance is a disgrace. Juan was and is a true asset to those of us thinking progressives. For God’s sake, the man wrote the book that many of use in school for the Civil Rights struggle in this country.

    WBUR and its many affiliates are the critical piece of the puzzle here. Stations like WBUR are what keep NPR afloat.

    I find myself horrified to be agreeing with the pundits on Fox Channel (for what I hope is that last time) over this. Shame, shame, shame….

  • Joe Mattea

    NPR(& their leftist ducklings)… no class (and, I hope, no more feedings at the taxpayer subsidized trough)

  • Jared

    This was poorly handled and has brought great trouble to NPRs door. They have given worthless entities like Fox News all the proof they need to feed their claims of “Liberal Fascism.” Many things could have happened, but the way this plays out, NPR made a grave mistake that undermines their credibility and further hurts the news media as a whole, for which NPR is one of the few shining stars.

    Vivian Schiller needs to step down now. If this was about the duality of Juan’s roles on Fox and NPR, it should have been handled with tact and savvy, not panic and “red button” dismissal.

    No one is disputing that this was poorly handled. So Vivian Schiller needs to take the responsibility and leave. Like Jane Christo before her at your station, the great work of public broadcasting is more important that the careers of tyrants who sometimes take the helm.

  • NPR Lover

    I wish more people would realize that he was fired for a breach of contract, rather than as an effort by NPR to silence a progressive voice.

  • John Choate

    I think WBUR would have been better off not “approving” of the firing of Juan Williams. Truely biased and disgusting. You truely deserve to be defunded.

  • Stojan

    Since you are affiliated with NPR I need better explanation to contribute money to your radio station in the future.

  • George Gamota

    I am dissapointed by the neutral stance, although supportive of NPR’s position, taken by Paul La Camera concerning the Juan Williams firing. Juan stated what most Americans feel and is being punished for it. Vivian Schiller’s comment about seeing a physiatrist is also particularly offensive. Had one doctor or anyone at Walter Reed feel like Juan, we would not have had 13 Americans dead at the hand of physiatrist Dr. Hassan who by the way was dressed as a cleric and professed Muslim faith openly.
    As a footnote, don’t be surprised if the donations will drop the next time you have a drive.

  • Richard Maki

    NPR shot themselves in the foot by firing Mr. Williams. Most of us work in an environment in which errors are dealt with in a progressive manner…. warnings, written reports, short suspensions, and ultimately loss of employment. If working for NPR and FOX are so incompatible, perhaps there should be up-front contract language to clarify the journalistic boundaries.

  • Foreign Observer

    As someone listening in from another country, I am simply amazed at how much fury this incident stirs. The French are rioting to protest austerity measures (which by the way is what the Republicans seem to be preaching a lot about these days), people are dying of cholera in Haiti, the British government just cut a huge number of public jobs, and several countries are engaged in an all out currency war. There are real, pressing news going on out here in the NON-US world. The firing of a news analyst is simply not that engaging… Lots of people are fired everyday for good and not so good reasons.

    He was an employee of NPR, bound to comply with his contractual obligations. He didn’t, and he was fired. So what? He was not fired for his personal opinion, but for expressing it when he was supposed to be a neutral analyst of FACTS on NPR programs. Is that so hard to understand?

  • Kevin

    I am a right leaning republican that enjoyed listening to NPR. I was always able to put aside the bias because the content and depth of the stories done at NPR were excellent. I will no longer listen nor contribute to WBUR. If WBUR can’t call out the apalling censorship and treatment of Mr. Williams by NPR’s CEO then I cannot trust them to deliver news and commentary in an honest manner.

  • zmm

    I’m a Muslim, and while I’m sort of surprised–though not shocked because Muslims are fair game in this country–by Mr. Williams’ comments, I wouldn’t have fired him. I guess I’ll just have to force my brother Alwaleed bin Talal to redirect some of the millions he’s made from News Corp to NPR. That should calm down everyone, especially the likes of Palin and Huckabee.

  • Sadra

    This analyst Mr. Williams was leaning towards Fox channel which portrays bias information of the right wing republican. How can WBUR/NPR keep that kind of employee? It was a good decision to fire him. It was a series of action by Williams that cost him to lose this job. WHY HAS THIS BECOME SUCH A BIG DEAL? WHY ARE PEOPLE SO MAD ABOUT IT? NPR CANNOT BE ANOTHER SCAREMONGERING FOX CHANNEL.

  • Karen

    NPR has aired their concerns regarding Williams in the past: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2009/02/juan_williams_npr_and_fox_news_1.html

    I doubt any of the commenters here claiming to withold money from stations has actually donated in the past. I’ll be happy to renew my membership to WBUR this year!

  • peter saul

    Can’t say i ever donated to NPR…but i’m only a recent listener. but, there is no chance they’re ever getting any monies from me and i do hope somebody in Congress has the ‘gumption” to look at why they are receiving tax monies. stupid mistake NPR….stupid.

  • John

    Its one of those things in life that makes you ah “think”
    Does NPR and WBUR ever notice fired dude was the only black guy- that does not mean anything other than a lack of diversity!
    Juan had no intelligence which should be implied in the title News Analyst so he should have been fired ages ago but now NPR is left with a super low level of diversity, not of thought but of culture.
    Just my 2 cents

    John Smith

  • Patty Cicchetti

    To Whom it May Concern,,,PC,
    I am so upset with what you did to Jaun Williams, I will never donate to your station again, you obviously have an agenda, that is not neutral! I will contact my congressperson and senator and ask that none of my tax money go to support your agenda!
    You accept public money and portray yourselves as a public radio station/TV, but are not impartial in your reporting or views, how can that be? You should be impartial and support our country not political correctness!
    disgusted, and take money from Sorros, not the taxpayer!

  • Biff Larkin

    One only needs to study the testimony given at the Stalinist show trials to understand how servitors of the “progressive” status quo rationalize and justify their enraged opposition to democracy, liberalism, free speech and the right of an American black man to speak his mind.

    The great crime of Juan Williams was to express an anti-progressive sentiment while being black…..

  • Patrick O’Reilly

    In one swift blow, NPR just became the Fox News of the left.

  • Paul Lang

    In honor and appreciation of NPR’s long-overdue firing of Mr. Williams, I am doubling my annual donation to WBUR and WGBH.

  • Paul Boomer

    The firing of Mr. williams shows that NPR has no journalistic integrity.

    Furthermore; the comments here clearly demonstrate that WBUR’s listeners consist of elitist snobs!

    According to NPR, it is OK to bash Christians but God forbid we attack a religion that killed 3000 Americans!

    At least Fox News is objective and unbiased.

  • jessica seligman

    CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSMAN FOR APPROPRIATION TO DEFUND npr is the real answer to stop bullies…..

  • Julia

    Thank you, NPR, for having journalistic integrity and refusing to employ a news analyst who repeatedly injects his personal opinions and fears into his work. I am doubling my annual contribution now in support of your decision.

  • Elizabeth Dionne

    After years of being a regular donor to WBUR, I stopped because I could no longer handle the partisan bias of Jack Beatty, the regular Friday news “analyst” (or Democratic Party shill). Terry Gross isn’t much better, as she “like” doesn’t get the Tea Party aliens (aka populists), or “like” anyone who might have religious conviction, or “like” anyone who might suggest that most women stop saying “like” in college. And NPR fires Juan Williams, who had the intelligence and integrity to consider alternative points of view, even on race? He was one of NPR’s most thoughtful and intelligent analysts. He will be sorely missed, and his firing sends a clear signal that anyone in the middle or faintly to the right thereof is fair game for NPR. (I would classify Williams as moderately left.)

  • Sarah Kelly

    @Elizabeth Dionne: thanks for your comment. I enjoy “On Point” with the exception of Jack Beatty’s hysterical fear-mongering. His comments are outrageous at times, yet Tom Ashbrook treats him with the sort of grave sobriety that one usually reserves for monarchs or dictators. WBUR apparently feels that Jack Beatty accurately represents the station, as week after week he is given a platform on a syndicated WBUR program. The bias is astounding and makes me feel that my local public radio station doesn’t need or want dollars out of my pocket, tainted as it is with conservative politics.

  • John Armstrong

    I totally agree with what you did. Please don’t be cowed by peop0le that don’t even know who you are and are just parroting garbage they hear from their thought-leaders.

  • Matthew Chapple

    I am white, southern, conservative – but open minded to intellignet discourse. Juan Williams brought that to his appearnces on Fox news which I watch exclusively for my news. I think NPR is purely left leaning and I am OK with that as I occasionally listen to NPR locally on WFDD.

    That said, NPR was completely wrong for firing Juan WIllialms. This matter has brought the public funding of NPR back to my attention. After careful consideration on my part, I am going to ask my legislators to de-fund NPR of any tax dollars. They have no business using tax dollars to spread left (or right)wing ideaology. They certainbly have the right to do so if independently funded. So call Soros and Alwaleed bin Talal and ask them to pay the bills.

  • Al

    Excuse me, but saying Juan Williams needs a psychiatrist isn’t exactly a hallmark of integrity. NPR has plenty of commentary on its air, and a treasure in Williams that they kicked to the curb because he lacks the particular ideological purity you leftwing zealots insist upon. Free speech as long NPR agrees with it, otherwise it’s an “integrity breach”, right?

  • Paul Boomer

    How can NPR justify terminating Williams and retaining Nina Totenberg?

    In 1995, for example, she had this to say about the late senator Jesse Helms: “I think he ought to be worried about what’s going on in the good Lord’s mind, because if there’s retributive justice, he’ll get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it.”

    Come on! I want to hear the left wing progressive’s answer to my question!

  • Greg Hodges

    Mr La Camera: You have stated that the decision (firing) was appropiately made. You also stated that the decision was made based on a series of ‘breaches’ that brought into question the journalistic integerity of NPR. Can you please LIST these ‘breaches’ for me and everyone else?….you seem to be knowledgeable about them.
    Do any of them compare to an opinion that it would be ‘justice’ if someone’s grandchild is stricken with AIDS. Now THAT would be a whopper of a ‘breach’, in my humble opinion! Thank you.

  • Andrew

    I take it that WBUR is supportive of the decision to fire Juan Williams and cites “a series of breaches in recent periods that brought into question the journalistic integrity of NPR.”

    I think that WBUR should clearly state these breaches, because I have listened to NPR often and I have seen or heard their correspondents and analysts in a variety of settings. I am familiar with many personal opinions expressed on the airwaves of WBUR and in other venues that should qualify for firing if what Juan Williams said is valid grounds for firing. He said that he has a personal feeling, an emotional reaction, which should in no way be used as the basis of action when he sees people dressed in muslim garb on an airplane. I see no issue of “journalistic integrity” when an analyst expresses a personal feeling.

    It seems clear to me that he was fired for consorting with the enemy, that we can not tolerate a man who associates with Fox news and admits to feelings that we do not care to agree that we all feel. I am reminded of a scene from the detective series “Spenser” where a white liberal character claims not to have not noticed that “Hawk” was black–she was trying to pretend that she was “post racial.” Spenser loved to poke fun at such people and replied something like “Hawk is a 6’3″ black man with a shaved head and very dark skin. You didn’t notice that he was black? He’s been my friend for years and I still notice it.”

    It seems that people at NPR, and at WBUR, want to pretend that when they are on a plane, they don’t notice people who seem to be muslims, that unlike the rest of us who have to deal with and work through our prejudices and fears, they don’t get nervous for irrational reasons.

    I have always enjoyed the intelligent comments from Juan Williams, and I appreciate his thoughtful comments on race. I will no longer listen to NPR programming, and I will no longer listen to WBUR–this action and the defense of it is, for me, not to be tolerated.

  • Tarin Jones

    I am a liberal democrat and believe there was nothing wrong with Juan Williams’ comments on The O’Reilly Factor. Because I don’t know enough of the rest of the story, I can’t comment about his firing. Nonetheless, analyst (for NPR) or not, I see no problem with Williams expressing his personal feelings/opinions – even while representing NPR. Aren’t we intelligent enough to recognize bias is a symptom of being human (which Williams is) and trust Williams is intelligent enough to do his job and present us fact despite his personal opinions, feelings, and experiences? Isn’t that what many of us aspire to do in our jobs every day? Every teacher in every classroom, every doctor in every examination room, and every judge in every courtroom has his/her own lenses through which he/she navigates the work and his/her profession. I should certainly hope, however, we all aspire to be able to separate our personal bias from our jobs – teach the rich history and value of religion despite the fact we may be atheist, counsel a rape victim despite the fact we may be pro-life, and protect any person’s right to a fair trial.

    What’s the problem with William’s talking about the elephant in the room? What is NPR afraid of? Isn’t there something to gain from people in respected positions communicating their bias and showing our less informed citizens they are still capable identifying their bias as just that and of doing their job with integrity despite the lenses they wear?

  • George

    I must admin that my do not plan on making my typical November donation to the station, and for the person who assumed that those withholding don’t donate this will be my first ‘missed’ year in the last five. Overall I’d like more open discourse than it seems NPR desires to have. I am myself left-leaning and sense this bias in general but have no problem with it but this sort of move, coupled with items like forbidding members attending the Jon Stewart rally, make me feel that I am not respected by the station to be able to understand context or opinion.

  • giantslor

    It’s about time NPR fired this guy. He did not live up to the standards of objectivity that NPR represented.

  • Roy Fuchs

    Your statement was something of a cop out.

    Mr. Williams is a knowledgeable and articulate commentator. But his views are not those I have looked for to NPR for 25 years. I am among those who had sought his removal for a number of years. And to his benefit, almost within hours of exiting NPR he gained a $2M salary from Fox, which I assume more than covered what he lost. So quick was his new contract offered that one might wonder whether this was not incited by some part of the conservative movement to embarrass NPR and offer a platform for them to seek federal defunding (do we really think Sarah Palin can even spell NPR?).

    My hope is that Mr. Williams’ comment becomes an opportunity to address the substance of what he said. Did the Bush administration couple “fear” and “Islam” so often and so heavy handedly that it still resonates? Is TSA just a wasteful jobs program? Do we fear observant Muslims because of the way they dress? And how many of the 19 hi-jackers on 9/11 were wearing religious garb?

  • Mark

    Listening to On Point this morning, it seemed to me that the NPR Ombudsman was skirting very close to justifying Mr. Williams’ firing on the grounds of his choice of tone.

    I love public radio, because, as a conservative, it improves my mind to hear views that may be contrary to my own, and because the tone is more measured as a rule. From that perspective, I am not in principle opposed to NPR policing the tone of debate on its stations.

    But in this case, Mr. Williams’ tone was entirely appropriate to the forum on which he was appearing. The O’Reilly Factor is a bombastic, loud, frenetic program with the aesthetic sensibilities of NFL Countdown. NPR may find that sort of program distasteful, but what happens on Fox news is not their responsibility.

  • FerialDay

    I will now split my quarterly contribution between WBUR and NPR (so you’ll get half of what you got before).

    Juan Williams was waaay past his expiration date , and I am grateful for NPR’s having performed the coup de grace.

  • Peter Lake

    Defending the indefensible puts WBUR squarely in the camp of those at NPR who fired Juan Williams based on “a series of breaches in recent periods that brought into question the journalistic integrity of NPR.”

    What breaches?
    Was Williams warned or even told about those “breaches”?
    Was he on probation?

    One of the most disturbing aspects of this event is the management style of NPR and lends weight to those who want Congress to stop funding NPR entirely.

  • Tom

    A journalism professor said on the Oct. 24, 2010 first hour of that WBUR has announced by a tweet that it will accept donations that may be not shared with NPR. If true, this is good – it shows a little gumption. If not true, it should be the case as the NPR chief executive officer and its ombudsman are claiming journalistic standards for the network that even the AP did not demand of its staffers in its heyday. I know because I was an AP staffer in the 1960s. As much neutrality as practical was the goal, but absolute presentation of both sides of a story was impracticable, no matter how much it was tried.

  • Gen

    Do the hard task – remain true to facts and continue to bring on pundits to express their views. I know in New England we live in an intellectual bubble and are some what surprised when others have such a fantastical opposing view. Stay strong and let the other clowns entertain.
    FYI: Politically I am not with either side (could careless – red morons or blue morons = morons) and have at times found some of your programs too conservative for my tastes – but then again I am from New England and I don’t watch Fox Faux News (not one second).

  • Tom

    sorry, the name of the moderator and program were dropped from my last submission…. The limits on how donations to WBUR would be used by WBUR was made during the first hour of Tom Ashbrook’s On Point…

Most Popular