Williams goes on NPR to plug his book that bashes NPR

I asked NPR reporter David Folkenflik if there was any discussion or reluctance at the network about having a fired NPR reporter return to NPR studios to promote a book that attacks NPR. He told me:

None I’m aware of. Certainly none that had any bearing on whether I covered the book and how I covered it. I made the call along with the two editors who help supervise my coverage of NPR. (Neither had any involvement in NPR’s termination of Juan’s contract.) This struck us as newsworthy for an audience that had heard a lot about this as it was happening, but it was also worth reporting on, not simply treating as a book plug. To their lasting credit, NPR executives and senior editors have never interfered or even sought to guide my coverage of the network, even at moments when it discomfited them. That also holds for NPR’s former senior vp for news and CEO who left in the aftermath of the Williams firing. They allowed us to do our jobs.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=504633504 Dan Mitchell

    Most of these don’t seem like “ethics” violations, exactly, since Williams was a news “analyst” and not really a reporter. They just seem like a few of the many, many examples of Williams being the buffoon that he is – and which should have gotten him knocked off the network years ago. But NPR was scared to deal with the situation for, you know, some reason. As usual, fear trumps all, and with predictable results.  

  • Grumpy Demo

    Folkenflik’s typical “he said, she said” reporting from nowhere, has never run the risk of offending anyone at NPR’s management, much less at FOX. His previous reports on FOX personalities rarely quote, if ever, any critics but are larded with uncritical quotes from existing and former FOX employees.

    Most recently Folkenflik’s reporting on News Corp’s “hacking” scandal have omitted the some of the most sensation examples with few quotes from critics. In a more recent story on Bill Sammon manufacturing and promoting the FOX “socialist” smear against Obama, he did not mention ethics once, only quoted FOX News employees and Sammon. Sammon’s behavior was portrayed as “mischievous”not a violation of ethics. A month old banana has more backbone than a Folkenflik report on FOX or other Right Wing icons, see  him reports Limbaugh, Jesse Helms, Britt Hume, Bair, etc.

    With his new book, Juan Williams continues his more than a decade unambiguous and repeated violations of basic journalistic ethics. Don’t take my word for it, here’ a nice example from the CPB Ombudsman, Ken A. Brode:

    “It was not just what Juan Williams said but where he said it (Fox News “The O’Reilly Factor”), and how many times he has made similarly provocative comments. Vivian Schiller said that on several occasions in the past Williams violated NPR’s code of ethics with things he said on other peoples’ air.

    An example widely reported in the press over the past few days is Williams’ remark last year about first lady Michelle Obama: “She’s got this Stokely Charmichael-in-a-designer-dress thing going. If she starts talking . . . her instinct is to start with this blame America, you know, I’m the victim. If that stuff starts coming out, people will go bananas and she’ll go from being the new Jackie O. to being something of an albatross.”
    That also occurred on O’Reilly’s show, and it produced 216 comments on the NPR Ombudsman’s email, many questioning why NPR put up with Williams’ dual role.”


    Here’s Mr. Bode on Williams defending Billy O’Reilly repeatedly on-air calling a murder victim a “baby killer” before he was murdered:

    “And, finally, each time a clip appeared on the ‘NOW’ program from ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ with Juan Williams on screen, I cringed. I admire Mr. Williams for his scholarly writing and his reporting on NPR. Fox News president Roger Ailes knows he is exploiting the credibility that Mr. Williams has built at NPR and carries with him to Fox. I wonder if Williams ever thinks that he is squandering a measure of that credibility by his continued appearances with Bill O’Reilly.”


    Mr. Williams, at best made, a career out of talking out of both sides of his mouth telling his audiences what he thought they wanted to hear, not the facts. The fact that NPR kept him after repeated violations of the Ethics Codesand numerous acts of unprofessional conduct as a journalist,  the apotheosis which was his embarrassingly sycophant  interview with President Bush:


    Like a abuse victim abandoned by their spouse Mr. Folenflik and NPR still can’t admit that Juan ever did anything wrong and still ex’s continued abuse and pine for the abuser’s affection.

  • Anonymous

    The Romper Room description is spot on.

  • Anonymous

    No kudos are due NPR for allowing Williams to speak. They had already made a big mess of things, which a lot of listeners (and taxpayers) are holding them accountable for. To deny him a chance to speak would only put themselves deeper into the abyss.

  • Anonymous

    So long as NPR continues to sup at the public teat, it had better go out of its way to fairly cover criticism of its policies and practices. If it wants to remain a Romper Room for cocooning white liberals, it can do so on its own dime.

  • http://twitter.com/GlennF GlennF

    Folkenflik’s report was pitch perfect. Williams was given an extensive opportunity to discuss his views and make his case. NPR executives were quoted. Outsiders were consulted. And Folkenflik found a sympathetic colleague of Williams, who made the point that Williams certainly has enough outlets for his views, even though the colleague also had misgivings about how Williams was treated.

    I am not a fan of Williams, who I believe turns anecdotes into theory, and uses weak logic to support his arguments. But I am pleased that NPR can give him a truly fair shake, and both allow his contentions to be heard, and his book promoted, while also challenging them in a respectful way. If the same kind of process had been used around his non-NPR appearances, and how the network dealt with that, the controversy would never have occurred.