I wasn’t terribly surprised the other day when I heard that NPR fired Juan Williams. I would say that it has been well known that NPR had not been comfortable with their employees appearing on Fox News—in particular, Juan Williams and Mara Lisasson. The reasons they gave for terminating his contract was a breach in their ethical standards. Mr. Wiliams shouldn’t have offered his personal opinions on a pundit show because his position as an NPR analyst.
While I used to watch punditry shows like Hannity and Colmes in the past, I don’t anymore. I actually find the more balanced shows like Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace and Meet the Press more intellectually stimulating. It’s because people like Mr. Williams can provide a different perspective in what I see as a calm and reasonable manner. I think that the huge support that he is seeing not only from his fellow leftists, but also from the right* has to do with the respect that he has earned.
Was NPR right? Well, I think that their ombudsman had the right idea. What should have happened was the NPR should have talked Mr. Williams and given him a choice: he could appear on Fox News or he could continue on with NPR but not both. (And given the weight between the two paychecks, I think I know which one he would have chosen.)
I don’t feel too sorry for Juan. He’s going to Fox full time for $2 million from what I’ve read. I do wonder though if Mara is next on the chopping block.
*I hesitate to include people like Palin and Huckabee who are using this to score political points.