Call me lucky. I had a pre-scheduled interview this morning with NPR CEO Vivian Schiller this morning before her speech at the Atlanta Press Club Newsmakers luncheon at the 191 Club in downtown Atlanta.
So lo and behold, the entire Juan Williams firing blew up the past 24 hours. I happen to be the first person to talk to her about it. She basically said he was on NPR as a news analyst and wasn’t supposed to express opinions, something he had done time and time again on Fox News. This was just the final straw. Commentators, in contrast, are specifically called that on NPR and are supposed to be opinionated.
She said this has nothing to do with Fox News or his particular views of Muslims. She is also sorry NPR did this while most public radio stations (including WABE-FM) are in the middle of their fall pledge drives.
After the luncheon, John Weatherford, senior chief operating officer at WABE-FM, acknowledged the Williams flap has been a “distraction” for the pledge drive, and