Williams case fallout: Opinions could be hard to come by

By ROBBIE SHIVER

The story that has been all over the news in recent days is the National Public Radio firing of journalist Juan Williams for his comments made about Muslims on The O’Reilly Factor with Bill O’Reilly.

Williams said “I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot, you know, the kind of books I’ve written about the Civil Rights Movement and this country. But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they’re identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

The main controversy that has arisen are not the comments, but if NPR had the right to fire Mr. Williams over expressing his fears. While, on the one hand, journalists are supposed to leave their opinions out of their work, if a journalist is asked to give his opinion, he should be allowed to do so.

NPR radio had a discussion about the firing and whether the action was legitimate on Oct. 22, 2010. While, to some degree, the merits and validity of his statements were questioned, the major question was if reporters should ever be able to give their opinions on difficult issues while working.

After listening to the statements, it was clear that Mr. Williams was simply trying to be honest and wished no harm to anyone. However, considering the business he is in, it was completely out of line to state such strong feelings when he knows there are people out there who trust and rely on his word.

The decision by NPR to fire Mr. Williams did not hurt him for very long. He was signed to a $2 million contract by Fox News almost immediately after being released by NPR.

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