Juan Williams

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Juan Williams (born April 10, 1954, in Colón, Panama, is an American journalist, best known for his work at The Washington Post where he was as an editorial writer, op-ed columnist and White House correspondent during his 30-year career.[1] He has written for several other news outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Time, and he regularly appeared as a news analyst on the National Public Radio (NPR) and a political commentator on Fox News. On October 20, 2010, Williams was fired from NPR following the broadcast of comments he had made on Bill O'Reilly's show "O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News:[2]

"I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they're identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

After his firing from NPR, Williams was offered an "expanded role" at Fox News.[2]

Williams is an Emmy Award winner for his television documentary writing.[1]

National Public Radio contract termination and response


NPR offered an official news release:

October 21, 2010
Contact: Anna Christopher, NPR


On Wednesday night we gave Juan Williams notice that we are terminating his contract as a Senior News Analyst for NPR News.

Juan has been a valuable contributor to NPR and public radio for many years and we did not make this decision lightly or without regret. However, 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.

We regret these circumstances and thank Juan Williams for his many years of service to NPR and public radio.[3]


NPR Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Vivian Schiller said: "As a reporter, as a host, as a news analyst, you do not comment on stories." She said such restraint is a vital part of NPR's code of ethics, which states that news staffers cannot say things in other public forums that they could not say on NPR's airwaves as well. "Certainly you have opinions — all human beings have their personal opinions," Schiller said. "But it is the ideal of journalism that we strive for objectivity so we can best present the positions of people around all parts of the debate to our public so the public can make their own decisions about these issues."

In an article by David Folkenflik on the NPR web site (Fox News Gives Juan Williams $2 Contract), it was stated that "Schiller had her own verbal miscue Thursday. In an address to the Atlanta Press Club, she said perhaps Williams would have been better served confiding his thoughts to his psychiatrist or his publicist — a flip line for which she later apologized." [4][5] NPR Ombudswoman Alicia Shepard said the telephones never stopped ringing and over 8,000 emails were received protesting Williams' firing. Shepherd said NPR listeners wanted Williams re-hired. Some of the radio station supporters promised to never donate to NPR again based on the radio station's firing of Williams.

In a lengthy column at NPR.org, Shepard defended the decision to fire Williams, wondering how Williams, who is black, would have reacted if another analyst had admitted nervousness at the sight of “an African American male in Dashiki with a big Afro.”

But Shepard said of NPR’s over-the-phone dismissal, “a more deliberative approach might have enabled NPR to avoid what has turned into a public relations nightmare.”


Media response

Most of the media did not condone Williams firing by NPR.[7][8]

Political response

On the political front Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee have both suggested federal funding be withdrawn from NPR.[9] Such calls, however, may indicate either political posturing or lack of knowledge, since NPR does not receive direct government funding, only indirectly through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Only a small part of NPR's budged comes from CPB.


Williams is married to Susan Delise and the father of two children. Williams moved to Brooklyn, New York, USA, in 1958 and later graduated from Haverford College where he received a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in philosophy in 1976.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Juan Williams. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved on 2 November 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 NPR Fires Juan Williams; Fox News Expands His Role, Fox News, 22 October 2010. Retrieved on 2010-10-22
  3. NPR Statement Regarding The Termination Of Its Contract With Juan Williams, National Public Radio, 22 October 2010. Retrieved on 2010-10-22
  4. David Folkenflik, Fox News Gives Juan Williams $2 Million Contract. Retrieved on 2010-10-22
  5. David Folkenflik (22 October 2010). NPR Ends Williams' Contract After Muslim Remarks. National Public Radio. Retrieved on 2010-10-22.
  6. NPR official admits fault in firing - BostonHerald.com. Retrieved on 2010-10-24.
  7. David S. Morgan (22 October 2010), Opinions Enflamed Over Juan Williams Firing, CBS News. Retrieved on 2010-10-22
  8. Bill O'Reilly blog. Retrieved on 2010-10-22.
  9. Aliyah Shahid (22 October 2010), Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee defend Juan Williams after NPR firing, call to slash NPR funds, New York Daily News. Retrieved on 2010-10-22