Juan Time Too Many

Juan Time Too Many

Until he was fired yesterday, Juan Williams was a News Analyst on NPR (formerly National Public Radio). Before that, he was an NPR News Correspondent, a reporting position. For the past few years, Mr. Williams has also held a second job as a Fox News commentator. His statements there are more unconstrained, more about opinion than reportage of fact.

We don’t know if Fox commentators have a code of ethics, but NPR journalists do, and it specifically instructs them to avoid public appearances in situations that “encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis.” When Mr. Williams crossed that line before, in 2009, he admitted it. He had done it the previous year, too, and NPR responded by changing his job duties from “Correspondent” to “Analyst.” NPR also asked Fox to stop identifying Juan Williams as “NPR Political Analyst” on their telecasts.

NPR was overly hasty in terminating Mr. Williams. says Alicia C. Shepard, the radio network’s Ombudsman; it should have allowed him time to respond, then fired him. Expressing a personal fear of flying with Muslims is hardly fact-based analysis. Ms. Shepard asks us to imagine how we would react if Juan Williams had spoken his comments about another group:

 “But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see an African American male in a Dashiki with a big Afro, I get worried. I get nervous.”

Those claiming that partisan bias at the radio network is behind Mr. William’s termination conveniently forget the uproar over last weeks’ memo cautioning NPR reporters not to appear at the upcoming Stewart and Colbert rallies. NPR will report on these events; it merely reminded reporters that public expression of political opinion conflicts with their duty as journalists.

 More:

“Muslims Wearing Things,” Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic.

Long, but important: “The real danger from NPR’s firing of Juan Williams
By Glenn Greenwald,” Glenn Greenwald, Salon.

 

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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