Opinion Brief

How badly has the Juan Williams firing hurt NPR?

NPR is getting slammed from all sides for its handling of the Williams affair. Can it recover?

NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller apologized to staff members and NPR affiliates for "the way I handled and explained" her firing of news analyst Juan Williams last week. But the firing has already drawn sharp criticism from Fox News, conservatives, and some liberals, and several Republicans are trying to strip federal funding from the public-radio network. Has NPR permanently damaged its reputation? (Watch a Fox reporter approach Schiller on the street)

NPR is damaged goods: NPR will never again be seen "as an important journalistic outlet where the genuine ethics of truth in reporting are respected" as long as Schiller is in charge, says Kevin McCullough at Fox News. Journalism "should be about telling the truth, as best one knows it," and that's what Williams did in his comments about Muslims. Schiller has done nothing but "lie" about what Williams said and why she fired him.
"NPR fired the wrong person"

We can't afford a "delegitimized" NPR: Schiller was wrong to fire Williams "in a snit," says James Fallows in The Atlantic. But "Fox and its political allies" are doing America a disservice by using the "imbroglio" to paint NPR as "a liberal counterpart" to Fox News. "Whatever its failings," NPR is one of America's remaining few "ambitious, first rate news organizations." Fox mostly uses the "news" as a launching pad for its pontificating.
"Why NPR matters"

Repent and be saved: NPR can still "rescue its reputation" by offering to hire Williams back, says Oregon's Albany Democrat-Herald in an editorial. "He would probably say no thanks," at this point, but it would show NPR has "come to its senses where broadcast commentary is concerned," and stopped pandering to "various ethnic or religious lobbies." If not, you can show your displeasure next time NPR asks you for money.
"NPR must fix its reputation"

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