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UPDATE 1:15 NPR, Bill O'Reilly respond to long time NPR employee's firing

O'Reilly says he will address firing on his show tonight

UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Fox News signed Juan Williams to a three-year contract with the network worth $2 million Thursday morning.

According to the Times Williams will now be appearing exclusively and more frequently on Fox News and will also have a blog on FoxNews.com.

National Public Radio is speaking out after they fired a long-time employee for comments he made on Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor.”

Juan Williams, who was senior news analyst for NPR, appeared on host Bill O’Reilly’s show Monday as a political analyst.

The topic of the show was O’Reilly’s well-publicized appearance on ABC’s daytime talk show, “The View” last week.

O’Reilly’s comments on the show that “Muslims killed us on 9/11” caused “View” co-hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg to walk off the set.

O’Reilly asked Williams, “Where am I going wrong here, Juan?”

Williams responded, “Well actually I don’t really want to say this to you because I don’t want to get your ego going, but I think you’re right. I think, look, political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don’t address reality.”

“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,” he added. “But when I get on a 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 announced Wednesday night that they were firing Williams for his comments, adding they were “were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.”

NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm also said in a statement, “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.”

NPR’s CEO Vivian Schiller added that NPR reporters and analysts should not be expressing controversial viewpoints, and that Williams’ views on Muslims should be “between him and his psychiatrist or his publicist.”

Schiller also said that Williams had veered from journalistic ethics “several times before.”

Williams appeared Thursday morning on Fox News to discuss the termination.

He said he got a message asking him to call NPR Wednesday night.

When he called, Ellen Weiss, NPR’s vice president for news, told him his statements had “crossed a line” and suggested they were bigoted. She then told him they were terminating his contract.

Williams said he told Weiss, “You mean I don’t even get the chance to come in and we do this eyeball-to-eyeball, person-to-person, have a conversation? I’ve been there more than 10 years.”

He said Weiss responded that, “there’s nothing you can say that would change my mind.”

Williams said he is standing by his statements, and asserted they were not bigoted.

“In fact, in the course of this conversation with Bill O’Reilly I said we have, as Americans, an obligation to protect the constitutional rights of everyone in the country and to make sure we don’t have any outbreak of bigotry,” he said. “But you cannot ignore what happened on 9/11, and you cannot ignore the connection to Islamic radicalism, and you cannot ignore what was recently said in court, that this was the first drop of blood in the Muslim war on America.”

O’Reilly also responded to Williams’ firing on Fox News Thursday, calling it “ridiculous.”

He called NPR “basically a left wing outfit that wants one opinion...not a news organization” and claimed they had been trying to “get rid of (Williams) for a while” because he is associated with Fox News.

He said tonight on his show he is planning on “calling immediately...for the immediate suspension of every taxpayer dollar going into the National Public Radio outfit.” Williams is also reportedly appearing on the “O’Reilly Factor” again tonight.

Before word of Williams’ firing broke, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Williams’ comments were intolerable.

“NPR should address the fact that one of its news analysts seems to believe that all airline passengers who are perceived to be Muslim can legitimately be viewed as security threats,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said.

Williams’ comments on the “O’Reilly Factor” have gotten him into trouble before.

In 2009 he came under fire for saying, “Michelle Obama, you know, she’s got this Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress thing going. ... her instinct is to start with this blame America, you know, I’m the victim.” Carmichael was a civil rights activist.

After the controversy, NPR asked Williams to not use the NPR name when he appeared on the “O’Reilly Factor.”

Williams also worked for The Washington Post for many years and has written extensively on the civil rights movement. He also wrote a biography of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

You can watch Williams’ “O’Reilly Factor” appearance on the Fox News website here.



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