NPR: Executive in Juan Williams firing resigns

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WASHINGTON (AP) - A senior news executive at National Public Radio who played a key role in firing commentator Juan Williams has resigned, NPR said Thursday in announcing the completion of a review of the Williams controversy.

The radio network said in a statement that Senior Vice President for News Ellen Weiss has resigned and NPR’s Board off Directors also recommended new internal procedures for handling personnel decisions and disciplinary action after reviewing Williams‘ dismissal in October.

The statement said NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller also accepted responsibility as top executive and while the board expressed confidence in her leadership going forward, it voted against a bonus for her covering 2010 amid “concern over her role in the termination process.”

“We have taken this situation very seriously and the Board believes these recommendations and remedial steps address the concerns raised in connection with the termination of Williams‘ contract,” the board chairman, Dave Edwards, was quoted as saying.

Williams was fired by NPR after saying on the Fox News Channel that he gets nervous when he sees people on a plane with clothing that identifies them as Muslim. Long troubled by Williams‘ dual role as a Fox analyst, NPR had said at the time that his remarks violated its standards of not having on-air personnel giving opinions.

Williams, who has since taken on a bigger role with Fox, had said he was hurt by the suggestion he’s a bigot.

Weiss joined NPR News in 1982 and was the executive producer for 12 years of its daily news magazine program “All Things considered,” her NPR online biography states. She had roles in NPR coverage of major domestic and foreign events before rising into senior news management echelons in 2007.

Weiss also had served as a senior producer, editor, field producer and director at NPR News, among other posts. She could not immediately be reached for comment by The Associated Press despite attempts to contact her.

Williams, as a Fox News contributor, was quoted on its media website Thursday that he cheered the announcement. He was quoted by the site as saying of Weiss, “I think she represented a … culture in that institution that’s not open to not only different ways of thinking, but angry at the fact that I would even talk or be on Fox.”

Soon after Williams was fired, Schiller said management stood by its decision. But Schiller had acknowledged NPR didn’t handle the firing perfectly. She had written that Williams, who was fired in a phone conversation, deserved a face-to-face meeting.

The board’s statement said outside legal counsel helped in the review, which also involved interviews with many past and present NPR employees and contractors. It said attempts were made to reach out to Williams but “unfortunately, these efforts were unsuccessful and Williams was not interviewed.”

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