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article imageFormer NPR analyst Williams gets $2 million Fox News contract

By Lynn Herrmann     Oct 22, 2010 in Politics
Washington - Former NPR news analyst Juan Williams has landed a new three-year $2 million contract with Fox News after he made his disparaging comments about Muslims earlier this week on Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor.
This week’s controversy over comments made by Williams has turned into a critical discussion involving politics, race and misunderstanding. Adding fuel to the fire are additional comments Williams made Thursday night where he again appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News program.
As NPR reports, Williams told O’Reilly: “I don’t fit in their box. I’m not predictable, black, liberal. And let me tell you something else, you were exactly right when you said you know what this comes down to, they were looking for a reason to get rid of me because I’m appearing on Fox News. They don’t want me talking to you.”
NPR has received heavy criticism over the firing, both from its listeners and Williams’ cohorts at Fox News. Joining in the debate was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, himself employed by Fox News.
“It is an act of total censorship,” Gingrich bemoaned. “I think that the US Congress should investigate NPR and consider cutting off their money.”
Sarah Palin, likewise an employee of Fox News, added her take on the controversy, suggesting President Obama and Congress should take action against NPR if it will not allow honest debate.
On her Facebook page she wrote:
If NPR is unable to tolerate an honest debate about an issue as important as Islamic terrorism, then it’s time for “National Public Radio” to become “National Private Radio.” It’s time for Congress to defund this organization.
She went on:
President Obama should make clear his commitment to free and honest discussion of the jihadist threat in our public debates - and Congress should make clear that unless NPR provides that public service, not one more dime.
Despite the controversy, NPR’s CEO Vivian Schiller stood firm on Thursday. “As a reporter, as a host, as a news analyst, you do not comment on stories.”
She added that such restraint is an integral part of NPR’s code of ethics, which states that news staffers cannot make comments in other public forums that they could not likewise comment about on NPR’s airwaves.
Daniel Okrent, former public editor of The New York Times, calls the issue shaky ground. “We value not the absence of opinion but the illusion of the absence of opinion,” he said.
He added: “I can’t give you a conclusive position on it. What’s the right way to go or the wrong way to go? I do know, once opinion comes into it, it gets to be very shaky ground.”
The difficulty, Okrent said, is in allowing a journalist with ties to a news organization priding itself on neutrality appearing frequently in a differing news outlet that encourages contention and well-defined opinions, as does Fox News.
Williams, with the new contract, is scheduled to appear as a guest host on Friday night’s edition of The O’Reilly Factor.
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