NPR's Review of Juan Williams Firing Completed, Ellen Weiss, VP, Resigns

iMediaEthics publishes international media ethics news stories and investigations into journalism ethics lapses.


Home » Diversity»

Juan Williams, pictured above, called Weiss' resignation "good for NPR." (Credit: YouTube, "Conservative New Media")

National Public Radio released a statement about the results of its investigation into the October firing of analyst Juan Williams, who had commented on Fox News that seeing people dressed in “Muslim garb” made him “worried” and “nervous.”

And, “in the wake of controversy surrounding” the firing and review, NPR’s senior vice president for news, Ellen Weiss, resigned, Media Bistro’s Fishbowl DC reported.  Weiss reportedly responded to questions if her resignation “was voluntary” saying “let’s just say, I made a choice; and I chose to resign.”  The Los Angeles Times noted that Schiller “approved the firing.”

The review concluded that Williams’ firing was “in accordance with its terms” and not because of “special interest group or donor pressure.”

Fishbowl DC published a memo from NPR CEO Vivian Schiller about Weiss’ resignation and the results of NPR’s investigation into Williams’ firing.  (See here).

Schiller’s memo complemented Weiss’ work and didn’t comment as to why Weiss was leaving or where she was going.  Schiller also noted that NPR’s “board of directors has also completed the review of the events leading to” Juan Williams’ firing.

According to the memo, “there is no written ‘report’ aside from this statement,” and the Weil firm conducted the review.

“The review also included an examination of how other NPR analysts and correspondents have been treated under the NPR Ethics Code with respect to on-air comments,” Schiller noted.

As the memo stated, NPR’s board of directors has “adopted recommendations and remedial measures designed to address issues that surfaced with the review.”

NPR will create a committee to “review and update” the internal code of ethics as a result of the review.

Also specific to the Williams’ incident, NPR will

“Review and update policies/training with respect to the role of NPR journalists appearing on other media outlets to ensure that they understand the applicability of the Ethics Code to their work and to facilitate equitable and consistent application of the Code.

“Review and define the roles of NPR journalists (including news analysts) to address a changing news environment in which such individuals have a myriad of outlets and new platforms for their talent, balancing the opportunities presented by such outlets and platforms with the potential for conflicts of interest that may compromise NPR’s mission”

NPR CEO Vivian Schiller didn’t get a bonus in 2010 because the board “expressed concern over her role in the termination process.”

The memo stated:

“Because of concerns regarding the speed and handling of the termination process, the Board additionally recommended that certain actions be taken with regard to management involved in Williams’ contract termination.”

The board of directors, however, claims it didn’t “recommend” or “have a say” in Weiss’s resignation, Poynter reported. As Poynter noted, Weiss “taught in a leadership seminar at Poynter,” and “was widely criticized after she fired Williams by phone following” his comments. Schiller at the time commented about Williams’ remarks, saying “whatever feelings Williams has about Muslims should be between him and ‘his psychiatrist or his publicist.'”

Williams wasn’t interviewed in the NPR review, but Weil did claim it asked for an interview.

Williams addressed Weiss’s firing on Fox News, the Huffington Post reported. He called the resignation “good news for NPR.”

“I think she represented a very ingrown, incestuous culture in that institution that’s not open to not only different ways of thinking but angry at the fact that I would even talk or be on FOX…to my mind, this is good news for NPR for people who care about news in America.”

He claimed that NPR has “a culture that is not open to real news, that is not open to all points of view, that is not open to the real world around us and ot the many different dynamics, perspectives and life stories that animate America.”

Submit a tip / Report a problem

NPR Review of Juan Williams Firing Completed, Ellen Weiss, VP, Resigns

Share this article: