National Public Radio contributor/analyst Juan Williams told Bill O’Reilly on Fox News Channel that seeing Muslims on airplanes makes him nervous. After that, the sight of Williams behind one of its mics apparently makes NPR nervous, leading the organization to terminate his contract.
During an appearance on the O’Reilly Factor, the host asked Williams about his own run-in with panelist on ABC’s The View over remarks about Muslims (in that case, the proposed New York mosque/community center). O’Reilly’s comments led Whoopi Goldberg and Joyce Behar to walk off the set. Williams, however, said he believed O’Reilly was correct.
Then he said, “I mean, 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.”
NPR did not wait around very long. In a statement, it said, “On Wednesday night we gave Juan Williams notice that we are terminating his contract as a Senior News Analyst for NPR News. 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.”
New York Times reports that Williams is not going willingly. He said he thought the decision was hasty and that he was not given a chance to defend himself in person.
At least three individuals on the Fox payroll, O’Reilly, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, are calling for government defunding of NPR in the wake of the incident.