The media brouhaha over commentator Juan Williams getting sacked by NPR went into hyperdrive yesterday after NPR’s CEO made unfortunately inappropriate offhanded comments about the matter at an Atlanta Press Club luncheon yesterday.
On Monday, Williams was given the boot following an appearance on Bill O’Reilly’s show on FOX during which he confessed to feeling “anxious” and “worried” when he is on a plane and sees “people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims.”
There’s no excuse for Williams’ comments, and NPR was justified in sacking him.
But, there’s no excuse for the comment that NPR CEO Vivian Schiller made at the Press Club appearance, in which she flippantly suggested that Williams’ views should be shared only with “his psychiatrist or his publicist.”
NPR is engaging in a public case of self-flagellation on its Two-Way blog, reporting on each new wrinkle in the public dispute. Meanwhile, Atlanta media types are weighing in, too:
Author/historian Jelani Cobb tweets this morning:
Juan Williams signs with Fox… It’s like a sharecropper who now gets a bigger share of the harvest.
Alexis Scott, publisher of the Atlanta Daily World, muses:
Am I the only one who has mixed feelings about the firing of Juan Williams by NPR?
Yesterday, AJC columnist Cynthia Tucker, remarked:
Note to Juan Williams’ fans: His 1st amendment rights are intact. He just won’t be paid for them
The ever-colorful Grayson Daughters, aka SpaceyG, opines:
It’s a sad day in American media when a git like Juan Williams drives the news cycle. We all deserve the media crap we consume. *bleh*
What I wonder is, how will this affect fundraising campaigns underway at NPR, including local station WABE?
A person I know who works at WABE, apparently not learning what happens to media types who spout off, posted on Facebook last night:
Hole-eee—eee crap folks, WABE did not fire Juan Williams. NPR did. While we value listener feedback, please understand Juan and I don’t share an office. I’m not the head of NPR, and therefore did not make the call to can his ass. I can’t re-hire him either. Now that we’re clear on that….
In the spirit of being a true friend — not just a Facebook friend — I won’t include the person’s name and Facebook page, but do suggest a deep breath or two.