- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ellen Weiss, the NPR executive who fired senior news analyst Juan Williams for a comment about Muslims, resigned Thursday.

Mr. Williams praised the move and took a swipe at NPR during an appearance on Fox News, which after the firing expanded his role there beyond his regular participation on Fox News Sunday.

“I think it’s good news for NPR and people who care about news in America,” Mr. Williams said, commenting that NPR still seemed to be mired in the 1970s and in the style of a college radio station of the era.

“The idea was to demean me, to show me as a loose cannon,” he said, adding, “You can’t go around treating people like trash and pretending that people with a different point of view are illegitimate.”

Ms. Weiss, a 29-year veteran of the news organization, dismissed Mr. Williams after he admitted to Fox News in October that he felt uneasy when he saw someone in “Muslim garb” on a commercial aircraft.

Ms. Weiss claimed the remark was inconsistent with NPR’s editorial standards and immediately terminated the veteran newsman’s contract.

The NPR Board of Directors announced Thursday that it had completed an internal review of Mr. WIlliams‘ termination, essentially deeming the process legal but ethically challenged.

“The Board has adopted recommendations and remedial measures designed to address issues that surfaced with the review,” the group said.

The October incident sparked a hubbub both in public and behind the scenes, drawing criticism from conservatives, Fox News commentators, media critics and listeners, many who wondered why an “analyst” was not allowed to express an opinion. The proper role of a publicly funded and presumably neutral news organization also came into play. It also raised some cries for cutting off NPR’s federal funding.

At the time, NPR ombudsman Alicia C. Shepard said Mr. Williams‘ termination was “poorly handled” and “unleashed an unprecedented firestorm of criticism directed not at Williams - but at NPR.”

NPR Chief Executive Vivian Schiller, who lost her year-end bonus “for her role” in the matter, was full of gracious praise for her departing executive Thursday.

“Over her decades at NPR, Ellen has made meaningful and lasting contributions to the evolution of NPR and our newsroom,” said Ms. Schiller, who had earlier issued a public apology.

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