Fox News contributor explains ‘Muslim garb’ comments, recounts termination
(NewsCore) – Longtime journalist and news analyst Juan Williams was fired by NPR late Wednesday after the nonprofit media organization decided that remarks he made about Muslims and political correctness during an interview on Fox News Channel did not meet their “editorial standards.”
Thursday, Williams defended the comments he made, saying “I said what I wanted to say.”
During a Monday interview with Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly that centered on Americans’ perceptions of Muslims in a post-9/11 world, Williams said that “political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don’t address reality.”
He went on to add that while he was not a bigot, he found himself getting “nervous” when he encountered some Muslims on airplanes.
“Look, Bill, I’m not a bigot,” Williams said. “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.”
Late Wednesday night, the nonprofit media organization decided that his remarks did not meet their “editorial standards” and terminated his 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,” the statement announcing Williams’ firing read.
In a taped statement that aired on Fox News Channel Thursday, Juan Williams stood by his remarks and described how he was notified of his firing over the telephone by Ellen Weiss, the head of news at NPR.
According to Williams, when the two spoke by phone, Weiss asked him what he had meant to say during the interview.
“I said what I meant to say, which is that it’s an honest experience,” Williams recounted telling her, adding, “that’s just a reality” for many air travelers.
“You cannot ignore what happened on 9/11 and you cannot ignore the connection to Islamic radicalism,” Williams told her.
Weiss said that what he had said “crosses the line” and announced that his contract was being terminated. Asked if he could have a face to face meeting to discuss his firing, Williams recalled that Weiss said she could not accommodate his request as “this has been decided up the chain.”
Williams’ firing was condemned by many in the media Thursday.