By The Associated Press
NPR terminated the contract of Juan Williams on Wednesday after comments the veteran journalist and news analyst made about Muslims on Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”
Fox News host Bill O’Reilly stirred up controversy last week on “The View” after making the blanket statement that “Muslims killed us on 9/11,” a comment that led to co-hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg walking off the set.
On Monday, O’Reilly asked Williams if there is a “Muslim dilemma” in the United States. The NPR analyst and longtime Fox News contributor agreed with O’Reilly that such a thing exists, and added that “political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don’t address reality.”
“I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot,” Williams continued. “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.”
Some commentators and a leading Muslim civil rights organization took issue with Williams’ comments.
The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan wrote Wednesday morning that Williams’ statement about fearing Muslims on planes is an example of bigotry. “What if someone said that they saw a black man walking down the street in classic thug get-up,” Sullivan wrote. “Would a white person be a bigot [if] he assumed he was going to mug him?’
The Council for American-Islamic Relations sent out a press release Wednesday afternoon calling on NPR to address the matter. Nihad Awad, the organization’s national executive director, called the comments “irresponsible and inflammatory” and said they “should not pass without action by NPR.”
They certainly didn’t. NPR took action Wednesday night and put out a statement regarding the severing of Williams’ contract: “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.”