A visibly shaken and emotional Juan Williams responded to being summarily fired by National Public Radio (NPR) in an interview with Fox News.
Williams said that NPR’s Senior Vice President for News Ellen Weiss called his cell phone on Wednesday afternoon to fire him for saying that people dressed in Muslim garb create anxiety in airports in the post 9/11 era. Watch the video here:
A ten-year senior correspondent for NPR, Williams said Weiss asked him, “What did you say? What did you mean to say?” referring to his recent appearance on Fox’s “O’Reilly Factor.”
Williams refused to back-pedal from his comments. He said he told Weiss, “I said what I meant to say.” He said that “it’s an honest experience that, when I’m in an airport, and I see people who are in Muslim garb, who identify themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I do a double take. I have a moment of anxiety or fear given what happened on 9/11. That’s just a reality.”
He said that Weiss responded, “Well, that crosses the line.”
“What line is that?” asked Williams. He said that she went on to “suggest that I had made a bigoted statement.”
“It’s not a bigoted statement,” Williams told Weiss. “In fact, in the course of this conversation with Bill O’Reilly, I said that we have, as Americans, an obligation to be careful to protect the constitutional rights of everyone in the country. And to make sure we don’t have any outbreak of bigotry.”
“But, that there’s a reality. You cannot ignore what happened on 9/11. And you cannot ignore the connection to Islamic radicalism. And you can’t ignore the fact of what has been recently said in court with regard to ‘this is the first drop of blood in a Muslim war on America.’”
Williams was shocked by the abrupt and impersonal firing by NPR. He asked Weiss, “I don’t even get the chance to come in and we do this eyeball to eyeball, person to person? Have a conversation?”
“I’ve been there for more than 10 years, and we don’t even have a chance to have a conversation about this?” Williams said he asked Weiss.
He said that she responded: “There’s nothing you can say that will change my mind. This has been decided above me and we’re terminating your contract.”