Exec That Fired Juan Williams Exits NPR

Firing Juan Williams from NPR cost Ellen Weiss her job. The svp of news for the public radio brand resigned Thursday (Jan. 6).

Weiss’ resignation coincided with the release of findings from an external review of the incident involving Williams, conducted by law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges. Even though the law firm found the dismissal was legal, the firing, carried out by phone, turned into a media circus. 

Vivian Schiller, CEO of NPR, stays put, but was reprimanded by NPR’s board for how Williams was handled. She also lost her 2010 bonus.

Williams was fired last October for remarks made about Muslims on Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor. “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,” said Williams, who was given a new contract with Fox News Channel after he was fired. 

In a report on NPR’s Web site, Robert Siegel, the host of All Things Considered and a colleague of Weiss, said he wasn’t surprised by Weiss’ exit. “It doesn’t surprise me that somebody was going to go, after the incredibly sloppy, messy and often embarrassing severance of Juan Williams,” he said.

In a press release, the NPR board of directors adopted a series of recommendations to “address issues that surfaced with the review,” including new internal procedures for taking disciplinary action for on-air talent and management.

“We have taken this situation very seriously and the board believes these recommendations and remedial steps address the concerns raised in connection with the termination of Williams’ contract,” said chairman Dave Edwards. “The board regrets this incident’s impact on NPR and will work with NPR’s CEO, Vivian Schiller, to ensure that these actions will be expeditiously completed, examined and monitored on an ongoing basis.”