NPR executive who fired Juan Williams resigns

/ Source: msnbc.com staff and news service reports

A National Public Radio executive who fired commentator Juan Williams has resigned, network officials said Thursday as they announced their review of Williams' dismissal was complete.

Williams, who has since taken on a bigger role at Fox News Channel with a $2 million contract, cheered her departure.

NPR said Senior Vice President for News Ellen Weiss resigned, but it gave no reason for her departure.

When asked on NPR's "All Things Considered" if her departure was voluntary, Weiss said: "Let's just say, I made a choice; and I chose to resign."

Weiss joined NPR in 1982 and rose through the ranks, holding a variety of key positions, such as executive producer of "All Things Considered" and national editor, the network said.

NPR CEO Vivian Schiller will retain her position, but the NPR board voted against giving her a bonus because of "concern over her role in the termination process," officials said.

Based on the review, NPR's board recommended new internal procedures for personnel decisions and disciplinary action.

The board found that the dismissal was handled according to terms of Williams' contract, but "I think we all know that the termination was not handled in the best possible way," said David Edwards, NPR board chairman. "Management has previously acknowledged that fact — they've admitted the fact that it was done hastily."

NPR fired Williams Oct. 20 after he said on Fox that he gets nervous when he sees people on a plane with clothing that identifies them as Muslim.

NPR said his remarks violated its standards of not having on-air personnel giving opinions.

At the time, Williams said he was ousted because of his Fox News appearances and because "I'm not a predictable, black, liberal."

On Thursday, he welcomed Weiss' resignation.

News analyst Juan Williams appears on the "Fox & friends" television program in New York, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010. Williams, who has written extensively on race and civil rights in the U.S., has been fired by National Public Radio after comments he made about Muslims on Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor," on Monday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)Richard Drew / AP

"I think it is good news for NPR if they can get someone who I think has been the keeper of a flame of liberal orthodox out of NPR," Williams told Fox News' Megyn Kelly on Thursday. "I think she represented a very ingrown, incestuous 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, angry at the fact that people have different perspectives and that a conservative perspective might emerge either on Fox or on NPR. ... To my mind, this is good news for NPR and for people who care about news in America."

He said NPR has a culture that is not open to real news.

When Williams was fired leading Republicans called for Congress to cut off federal funding for NPR News.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, himself a paid Fox commentator, called Williams' dismissal "an act of total censorship."

Gingrich, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who also have ties to Fox, called for Congress to investigate NPR and consider cutting off its money. South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint and Ohio Rep. John Boehner, now speaker of the House, echoed the call.

Schiller, in an address to the Atlanta Press Club, had said perhaps Williams would have been better served confiding his thoughts to his psychiatrist or his publicist — a flip line for which she later apologized, NPR reported at the time.

Williams' firing followed the dismissals of Rick Sanchez and Octavia Nasr by CNN and the forced retirement of Hearst newspapers columnist Helen Thomas. All made controversial remarks in public settings.