Juan Williams Fired From NPR
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Juan Williams told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly that he agreed with O'Reilly's comments on Muslims (Video).
- Matea Gold, Tribune Washington Bureau: In wake of NPR controversy, Fox News gives Juan Williams an expanded role
- Rodney Ho, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: First interview with NPR CEO Vivian Schiller on Juan Williams firing
- Juan Williams, FoxNews.com: I Was Fired for Telling the Truth
NPR fired news analyst Juan Williams Wednesday night after comments the pundit made on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" that Muslims dressed in Muslim garb on planes made him nervous.
"Tonight we gave Juan Williams notice that we are terminating his contract as a Senior News Analyst for NPR News," NPR said in a statement.
"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."
During an appearance Monday on Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor," Williams backed Bill O'Reilly's recent claim that "Muslims killed us on 9/11" and then said: "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 the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."
Alicia Shepard, NPR's ombudsman, told Journal-isms by e-mail, "My office spent most of Wednesday fielding phone calls and emails from NPR listeners angry and upset by what Juan Williams said about Muslims. We got at least 60 emails and that was in response to something he said on another network. My job is NPR’s content – not Fox’s.
"While this must have been a tough decision since Juan joined NPR in 2000, I think NPR’s management made the right call."
David Folkenflik, NPR's media reporter, wrote on NPR's website, "Reached late Wednesday night, Williams said he wasn't ready to comment and was conferring with his wife about the episode."
Among those who protested was the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, which Wednesday called on NPR to "address" Williams' statement.
"NPR should address the fact that one of its news analysts seems to believe that all airline passengers who are perceived to be Muslim can legitimately be viewed as security threats," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.
Nsenga Burton of theRoot.com also took Williams to task. "Guess what? We get nervous whenever Williams is about to speak. However, Williams should know nervousness, since plenty of paranoid folks feel nervous when they see him as a black man walk onto a plane or just walk down the street. Too bad he can't make the leap from one example of fear and paranoia to another, probably because of his Fox-induced coma."
Appearing on both NPR and Fox News Channel, which Williams joined in 1997, Williams had to negotiate two different cultures.
Fox agreed. "We were actually doing NPR a favor by even plugging them," a spokeswoman told Journal-isms at the time, "but we have no problem dropping the mention on the chyron along with their exposure to millions of O'Reilly Factor viewers."
On the O'Reilly show that January, Williams said of the first lady, "She's got this Stokely Carmichael-in-a-designer-dress thing going. If she starts talking . . . her instinct is to start with this blame America, you know, I'm the victim. If that stuff starts to coming out, people will go bananas and she'll go from being the new Jackie O. to being something of an albatross."
"To date, I've received 56 angry emails" about Williams' comments, Shepard wrote. "For comparison, this year so far, listeners sent 13 emails about Steve Inskeep, 8 about Mara Liasson and 6 about Cokie Roberts, other NPR personalities who I often get emails about."
She continued, "When I asked Williams about his comments, he initially called it a 'faux controversy.'
"But then he reviewed the tape and realized that 'the tone and tenor of my comments may have spurred a strong reaction to what I considered to be pure political analysis of the First Lady's use of her White House pulpit,' said Williams via email. 'I regret that in the fast-paced, argumentative format my tone and tenor seems to have led people to see me as attacking instead of explaining my informed point of view.'
"Williams tends to speak one way on NPR and another on Fox," Shepard continued.
Williams, 56, was described in his NPR bio as "one of America's leading journalists . . . Knowledgeable and charismatic." He is an author and speaker who specializies in civil rights topics but has no use for such leaders as the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. He spent a 21-year career at the Washington Post, including service as an editorial writer, op-ed columnist and White House reporter.
For most of his NPR career, his was the designated black male on-air voice, and Williams would be called upon regularly for his opinion at NPR and its Washington affiliate, WAMU-FM, a fact that irritated many of his fellow African American journalists.
His views took jagged turns as he went to work for Fox News Channel, and he complained that other blacks vilified him for departing from what he called black orthodoxy. Yet he was a Democrat who often played the role of liberal on the right-wing network. In a column last year, Tony Norman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called Williams "America's most two-faced senior black correspondent."
It was ironic that Williams' firing came on the day that the 1991 controversy over then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas' conduct toward law professor Anita Hill returned to the news. It was reported that Thomas' wife asked Hill to retract her sexual harassment allegations against Thomas.
Williams was a friend of Thomas and defended him then in a chain of events that ultimately contributed to Williams' departure from the Post. He wrote on the Post's op-ed page that Hill had "no credible evidence" for her allegations of sexual harassment by Thomas, writing that Hill was "prompted" to make her charges by Democratic Senate staffers.
The column angered many women in the Post newsroom, and several came forward to say that they had also had problems with Williams. The Post undertook an investigation.
About 50 female employees met with then-Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. and said they objected to the Post's refusal to say how the paper had resolved allegations of verbal sexual harassment against Williams, the Post's Howard Kurtz wrote at the time.
In an open letter to the newsroom, Williams said the newspaper had disciplined him for what he called "wrong" and "inappropriate" verbal conduct toward women staffers, and he apologized to his colleagues, Kurtz reported.
Williams had already so angered one black woman, Jill Nelson, that he warranted a passage in 1993's "Volunteer Slavery," Nelson's memoir about her time at the Post. When the two were working together at the Washington Post Magazine, Williams told the magazine editor, without being asked, that Nelson's submission was unworthy of publication, she wrote.
She quoted herself telling him, "Listen, Juan, don't fuck with me. You know, you're worse than a Negro who carries white folks' water for them, because your own water is dirtier than theirs could ever be. Don't get into my business again. Because if you fuck with me, I'll destroy you."
In January 2008, during the presidential campaign, Williams tried to explain many blacks' conflicted feelings about Democratic rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton by saying that many blacks could be bought.
"It's gotta introduce the idea that people saying, 'Wait a minute. I can be a part of history, something very special going on here' and it introduces also identity politics to a new level, that you just take pride in the accomplishments of this incredible young man," he said of Obama. "But on the other hand, the reason that the numbers were reflective of a Clinton win so far among African Americans, is because Bill Clinton had practiced what I would call 'patronage politics' for so long. People had gotten money, they'd gotten paid, they knew exactly that they could rely on Clinton as a pipeline for support in the black community, in the black churches, all the way down to the community centers. They knew how that worked.
"They don't know Barack Obama. They don't know that they can trust him to deliver. They don't know if he's got to make a show of favoring whites or suburbanites in order to prove his bona fides with that part of the electorate."
Williams became one of Obama's most consistent African American detractors during the camapaign, only to become emotional on election night over the historical significance of Obama's victory.
Still, Fox News' Brit Hume praised Williams on "Fox News Sunday," saying, "you never really drunk the Kool-Aid."
- Craig Howie blog, Los Angeles Times: Social media wrap: Juan Williams’ firing sets Twitter world alight
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- Sherrilyn A. Ifill, theRoot.com: Clarence Thomas' Wife and the Appearance of Bias
- Brian Stelter, New York Times: Fox Host Says He ‘Misspoke’ About Muslims
- Deron Synder, theGrio.com: Clarence Thomas's house appears to be out of order
- Nina Totenberg, NPR: Clarence Thomas' Wife In Spotlight After Phone Call
Susan Goldberg Leaving Plain Dealer for Bloomberg News
A day after Mark Russell was named editor of the Orlando Sentinel, Debra Adams Simmons has been chosen editor of Russell's old paper, the Plain Dealer of Cleveland. The appointments instantly boosted to 19 the number of African American top editors at newspapers.
Adams Simmons, a graduate of the Maynard Institute's Management Training Program, succeeds Susan Goldberg, who is leaving to join Bloomberg News as an executive editor, the paper announced Wednesday afternoon.
"We will continue to build on the momentum of the past three years," Adams Simmons said in a Plain Dealer story. "Watchdog journalism is, and will continue to be, our most important priority."
Adams Simmons, 45, came to the Plain Dealer in September 2007. She was ousted the previous November as vice president and editor of the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal in a cost-cutting move by the new owners of the former Knight Ridder paper.
She had worked as deputy managing editor and metro editor at the Virginian Pilot in Norfolk, Va., before her time at the Beacon Journal. She has also worked at the Detroit Free Press, the Hartford Courant and the Syracuse (N.Y.) Herald-Journal.
Goldberg had taken over as editor of the paper in May 2007 and was the first female editor of Ohio's largest daily newspaper. She had been editor of the San Jose Mercury News before that and had previously worked at newspapers including USA Today and the Detroit Free Press, the Plain Dealer story said.
"She said leaving The Plain Dealer was a difficult decision, but she was persuaded by the chance to help develop content for Bloomberg News. 'In a short time, I have become deeply attached to Cleveland,' Goldberg said, 'both because of the work our staff has done, of which I am enormously proud, and because of the amazing people I have met inside and outside of the newsroom.' "
Goldberg is secretary of the American Society of News Editors, a step on the ladder to the society's presidency, and has been chair of its Diversity Committee.
A Bloomberg announcement said Goldberg would oversee an expansion of state and local government reporting.
"She is uniquely qualified to bring transparency to an initiative where so much is at stake for investors and taxpayers," Editor-in-Chief Matthew Winkler said.
Goldberg will be based in San Francisco. "Her new role will reinforce Bloomberg’s continued commitment to West Coast reporting, especially California, as well as state and local government issues across the country," according to the announcement.
"The move is part of a global growth strategy by Bloomberg News to increase reporting resources in the U.S. and in emerging markets."
Russell, 48, was named editor of the Sentinel on Tuesday. He joined that paper in 2004 from the Plain Dealer, where he was assistant managing editor/metro for five years. He had also been business reporter, city hall reporter and business editor.
Responding on Facebook to Adams Simmons' appointment, Russell wrote, "Great pick for The Plain Dealer and the industry. All the best to Debra, a true professional and creative force."
The appointments of Adams Simmons and Russell mean there are 19 blacks heading newspaper newsrooms around the country, according to a survey by the National Association of Black Journalists.
The nine Spanish-language reporters who met with President Obama at the White House on Tuesday asked questions of concern to a variety of Hispanic constituencies. (Credit: Pete Souza/ White House)
President Obama, continuing his outreach to core Democratic constituencies. met with Latino journalists at the White House Tuesday and held a conference call with reporters for African American newspapers.
"During the half-hour conversation on Monday, there was concern that the programs in place aren't reaching the workers who need them most," Mary C. Curtis wrote in Politics Daily of the black-press conference call. "Though the majority of African-American voters don't seem to buy the GOP message, it's not certain that Democrats and the president have closed the deal."
The meeting with Latino journalists, held in the Roosevelt Room, touched on a variety of topics raised by journalists largely from Spanish-language media. Present were Hernando Amaya of El Tiempo in Las Vegas; Victor Perez of Hoy; Jordi Zamora of Agence France-Presse; Antonieta Cadiz of La Opinion/ImpreMedia; Isabel Morales of El Nuevo Herald in Miami; Luis Alonso of the Associated Press; Ruben Barrera of Notimex, the semi-official Mexican news agency, Macarena Vidal of EFE, the leading Spanish language news agency; and Jose Delgado of El Nuevo Día in Puerto Rico.
They took away news geared toward their particular constituencies. The Miami Herald, sister paper of El Nuevo Herald, noted that Obama said Cuba must act more swiftly in releasing political prisoners.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal, published in a state where Senate Majority Leader Harry A. Reid, D-Nev., is in a close race with Republican Sharron Angle, quoted Obama on a controversial advertisement in Nevada that urges Latinos not to vote this year.
"Obama said Latinos who withhold their vote in Nevada would hurt Reid and 'reward' Angle, who he said 'would never vote for immigration reform,' " the Review-Journal reported, noting the presence of Amaya in the White House meeting.
Luis Alonso told Journal-isms he wrote six stories for the AP's Spanish service. Each was on a different topic.
More is coming. Univision announced Wednesday that Eddie “Píolin” Sotelo, three-time winner of the Marconi Radio Award, plans to interview Obama live and in-studio on Monday at 9 a.m. Pacific Time on Univision Radio’s “Piolin for la Mañana.”
Assessing this increased activity, Laura Wides-Munoz of the Associated Press reported Wednesday, "Spanish-language networks and publications are taking on a more prominent role this election season, nabbing debates with major candidates and increasingly seeing their political coverage spin out into mainstream English-language media.
"The attention highlights not only the growing influence of Hispanics, the nation's largest and fastest-growing minority group, but also the power of the companies that provide much of their news.
As an example, Wides-Munoz wrote, "Take recent comments by U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., during a Sunday morning talk show with Spanish-language Univision Network anchor Jorge Ramos.
"Sanchez told viewers her Republican opponent Van Tran, who fled Vietnam as a child, was anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic. In previous years, those words might have gone unnoticed outside the Spanish-speaking community.
"This year they were picked up by a blogger, replayed on YouTube and seized upon by Republican Party leaders, demonstrating not just the increased influence of Spanish-language media but also how ever-more-powerful social media has made the information it provides easier to disseminate."
Luis Miranda, White House liaison for Hispanic media, told Journal-isms that "our outreach to Hispanic media has been unprecedented, not recently, but from day one" of the Obama administration.
Meanwhile, Darlene Superville the Associated Press, reported on Obama's planned outreach to other groups: "He'll reach out to women Thursday in Seattle, discussing women and the economy with a female-only audience.
"And next week, Obama will court younger voters and those who don't rely on traditional media for their news when he takes his campaign message to Comedy Central's 'The Daily Show' with Jon Stewart."
- Luis Alonso, Associated Press: Obama: Venezuela debe actuar responsablemente
- Luis Alonso, Associated Press: Obama advierte a hispanos sobre posibles retrocesos
- Luis Alonso, Associated Press: Obama no descarta reforma migratoria integral
- Luis Alonso, Associated Press: Obama: Muy pronto para saber futuro de TLC con Colombia y Panamá
- Luis Alonso, Associated Press: Obama requiere más información antes de modificar embargo a Cuba
- Luis Alonso, Associated Press: Obama: Informe de estatus de Puerto Rico incluirá economía
- Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Threat Response
- Mary C. Curtis, Politics Daily: Obama Continues Outreach with Message to Black Newspapers
- Cord Jefferson, theRoot.com: The Root Interview: Valerie Jarrett on Blacks and Obama
- Les Payne, theRoot.com: The President's Summit With Black Journalists
- Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Can the black vote save the Democrats?
- Kevin Sack, New York Times: Black Turnout Will Be Crucial for Democrats
- Michael D. Shear, New York Times: Obama to Appear on “Mythbusters”
- Cynthia Tucker blog, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Obama tried too hard to work with Republicans
- Lynne K. Varner, Seattle Times: The president gets into campaign mode
- Tonyaa Weathersbee, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Obama Determined to Stay On High Road
- Tonyaa Weathersbee, Florida Times-Union: Obama has faith in essential common sense of Americans
Walterene Swanston, diversity consultant and the retired director of diversity management for NPR, has won the National Association of Black Journalists' Ida B. Wells Award, NABJ announced on Tuesday.
The award annually honors a media executive who has helped diversify the nation's newsrooms and improve coverage of people and communities of color
Past Wells recipients, with the titles they carried when they won, include Jay T. Harris, former publisher of the San Jose Mercury News, Reginald Stuart, corporate recruiter for Knight Ridder, Steve Capus, president of NBC News, Donald Graham, publisher of the Washington Post, Johnita P. Due, senior counsel and Diversity Council chair of CNN, and Bobbi Bowman, diversity director of the American Society of News Editors.
"She has a decades-long professional track record as a champion of media diversity. For more than 25 years, she has worked with newspapers, television and radio stations to recruit, promote, train and retain people of color and women. Swanston also served as the first executive director of UNITY: Journalists of Color, the joint convention of the Black, Asian, Hispanic and Native American journalism associations," NABJ said.
The award is to be presented Jan. 27 at the Newseum in Washington as the organization inducts five journalists into its Hall of Fame. They are the late Ed Bradley of CBS News' "60 Minutes"; Merri Dee, 30-year veteran of Chicago broadcasting and former evening anchor for WGN-TV; J.C. Hayward of WUSA-TV, Washington; Eugene Robinson, Washington Post columnist; and Ray Taliaferro of KGO newstalk radio in San Francisco.
Sandra D. Long, an employee of the Philadelphia Inquirer since 1984, Wednesday was named vice president for editorial product development for Philadelphia Media Network, the new owners of the Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News.
"For the last two years, Sandra has been vice president/newsroom operations, playing an integral role in consolidating the photo departments and support staffs of The Inquirer and the Daily News as well as sharing resources on the copy desks and in the graphics departments. She also helped coordinate special sections jointly produced by the papers," an announcement from Acting Editor Stan Wischnowski said.
"She will be part of a companywide team working to develop new products across multimedia platforms."
Long is also a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists.
- Voting is over for the best business concept produced by "New U," a Ford Foundation-funded program for journalists of color who want to become entrepreneurs. Winners are, for the Native American Journalists Association, Rose High Bear and her mentor, Jodi Rave; for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Ray Ruiz and his mentor, Veronica Villafañe; for the Asian American Journalists Association, Toam Lam and his mentor, Chrys Wu, and for the National Association of Black Journalists, Ciara Calbert and her mentor, Gina Gayle. Sixteen participants attended two-day "boot camps" over the summer to learn business skills and how to pitch ideas to mentors and financial experts.
- "Daniel Viotto is leaving CNN en Español, the network where he has worked as an anchor for the past 13 years," Veronica Villafañe reported Wednesday for her Media Moves column. " 'I have decided not to renew my contract,' Danny tells me. 'It was a difficult decision to make after so many years with the company, but I felt it was necessary to make a change in my career. I have been with CNN en Español since its launch in 1997 and I feel it's time to move on and explore new opportunities.' "
- "In a special November issue of studies and analyses of PBS's major public affairs shows, FAIR's magazine Extra! shows that 'public television' features guestlists strongly dominated by white, male and elite sources, who are far more likely to represent corporations and war makers than environmentalists or peace advocates," Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting said on Tuesday. "And both funding and ownership of these shows is increasingly corporate, further eroding the distinction between 'public' and corporate television. There is precious little 'public' left in 'public television.' "
- "John H. Murphy III, former Chairman of the Board and Publisher of AFRO American Newspapers, died Oct. 16 at the Stella Maris Nursing Home in Timonium, Maryland. He was 94," Zenitha Prince of the Baltimore Afro-American reported on Sunday. "Murphy, grandson of AFRO founder John H. Murphy and son of Sarah and Daniel H. Murphy, served in a variety of positions at the AFRO for 49 years. He started as the office manager of the Washington AFRO, and became chief executive officer in 1967. He was at the helm as president and/or chairman of the board until his retirement in 1986."
- Robin Washington, editor of the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune, has created a 50th anniversary tribute to John Coltrane's classic album "My Favorite Things." The tribute airs nationally Thursday on public radio stations nationwide, including WGBH Boston (http://tinyurl.com/ycjcnhd), Oregon Public Radio (http://tinyurl.com/3yyz7ed) and KJazz in L.A. (http://tinyurl.com/5f9cho). Washington has also created a fan page: http://tinyurl.com/25lkmkv
- "Today marks 33 years since the apartheid regime banned 17 black organisations and two black-oriented newspapers," Simphiwe Sesanti, a lecturer in the Department of Journalism at South Africa's University of Stellenbosch, wrote Tuesday in the Cape Times in Johannesburg. "The apartheid regime closed down the newspapers and detained black journalists working for them because the journalists of the 1970s, under the influence of Bantu Biko's Black Consciousness, had declared that they were blacks first and journalists second." Referring to the ruling African National Congress, Sesanti continued, "So, when the ANC spokesperson, Jackson Mthembu says the press freedom journalists enjoy today was fought for by the ANC — making it sound as though press freedom was a gift from the messianic ANC — he is distorting the history of this country's liberation struggle."
- Editor & Publisher owner Duncan McIntosh said he fired his editorial staff last week because "Moving toward expert-generated copy is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time," according to Jason Fell, writing Monday in Folio. "We need to utilize as many experts in the field as possible. I’d rather clean up their copy than rely on reporters who might not know to ask the right questions."
- Former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, commenting on the firing of Rick Sanchez, who left the network after lambasting late-night satirist Jon Stewart in a series of comments that also mentioned Jews, said on NYNonstop, the digital channel of WNBC in New York: "Aside from the lamentable stupidity of what he said, if everyone at CNN — all of the anchors had been fired for stupid things, they wouldn’t have anyone to fill up the air," according to Chris Ariens, reporting for TVNewser.
Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
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