NPR has terminated the contract of Juan Williams, a left-leaning pundit and one of its senior news analysts, for making what some have deemed Islamophobic comments on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News program on Monday evening. "I got to tell you," Williams told O'Reilly, "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." (Watch the video below.) NPR said in a statement that Williams' remarks were "inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR." But many are accusing the broadcaster of overreacting. Even Sarah Palin came to his defense. Here's a selection of responses to Williams' firing:
He's a victim of political correctness: This is "un-freaking-believable," says Michelle Malkin at her blog. Does NPR not believe in the principles of free speech? Williams was fired at the behest of the internet's "left-wing attack dogs" for simply giving his "honest opinion." NPR's "boneheaded capitulation" to liberal pot-stirring is just political correctness gone mad.
NPR will not tolerate anti-Muslim bigotry: NPR acted entirely appropriately in sacking Williams for his "blatantly bigoted anti-Muslim remarks," says Glenn Greenwald at Salon. And those calling him a "free speech martyr sacrificed on the altar of sharia censorship" ought to look at how those who discriminate against other groups have been treated. If CNN can fire Rick Sanchez for being an anti-Semite, for example, then Williams should lose his job too.
Did NPR even watch the entire clip? "Just moments later," Williams highlighted the distinction between moderate and extremist Muslims, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. "Does watching an entire segment and hearing remarks in context also conflict with NPR's editorial standards and practices?"
As a black man, Williams should understand prejudice: Doesn't Williams understand that "plenty of paranoid folks feel nervous when they see him as a black man walk onto a plane," says Nsenga Burton at The Root, or even just walking down the street? "Too bad he can't make the leap from one example of fear and paranoia to another."
Williams was leading a double life: The news analyst "has been playing an odd double game for years," says Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs, being a liberal on NPR and "somewhat less of a liberal" as a regular pundit on Fox News. It was inevitable he'd be "prodded" into "crossing a line" eventually.
Just a victim of our soundbite culture: In a more sane time, says Glynnis MacNicol at Mediaite, NPR might have given Williams a forum to "explain just what the hell he was talking about." But, like CNN's dismissal of Octavia Nasr earlier this year for an "ill-thought-out tweet," NPR has decided an "idiotic soundbite" is of more concern than a "long and respectable" career.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- After Ferguson, we don't need another dialogue on race
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- In defense of Obama's golfing
- The world is on fire and neither Democrats or Republicans have a clue
- How Democrats might goad the GOP into shutting down the government
- The government is getting into the fact-checking business. Be very, very afraid.
- Your literary playlist: A guide to the music of Haruki Murakami
- Wait a minute, Mr. Postman: Why postal banking won't work
Subscribe to the Week