Juan Williams Calls Firing By NPR 'Chilling Assault on Free Speech'

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Williams rubbed his NPR bosses the wrong way in 2007 when he appeared on Fox News to gripe that the White House offered him an exclusive interview with President Bush, but NPR made him turn it down. NPR wanted to choose its own reporter for the interview rather than let the White House set conditions.

"I was stunned by the decision to turn their backs on him and to turn their backs on me," Williams said of NPR.

Williams was the latest journalist to be fired for comments that were seen as biased. UPI's Helen Thomas and CNN's Rick Sanchez were dismissed after making comments deemed offensive to Jews.

Before Williams was fired, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said such commentary from a journalist about other racial, ethnic or religious minority groups would not be tolerated.

"NPR should address the fact that one of its news analysts seems to believe that all airline passengers who are perceived to be Muslim can legitimately be viewed as security threats," CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad told the Associated Press.

But Williams' remarks reflect a view widely held among Americans, raising accusations that his dismissal is the result of overly sensitive political correctness. According to two recent polls, Williams' remarks reflect the opinions of many Americans, leading some observers to suggest that Williams was fired for saying what everyone else is thinking.

Whoopi Goldberg Urges NPR to Rehire Juan Williams

In an August poll conducted by the Pew Forum for Religion and Public Life, the majority of Americans said they believed Islam was more encouraging of violence than other religions. A Gallup Poll conducted in January found that 43 percent admit to feeling at least "a little" prejudice toward Muslims.

William Kristol of the conservative Weekly Standard wrote, "Do the powers-that-be at NPR think Juan Williams is a bigot? Do they think a traveler who has a reaction (fair or unfair) like the one Juan describes, in our age of terror in the name of Islam, is a bigot?... I suspect the powers-that-be at NPR pretty much think what Juan thinks. But the standards of political correctness must be maintained."

Palin retweeted remarks from conservative columnist Michelle Malkin who suggested there is a double standard and "lib hate speech always gets a pass."

Whoopi Goldberg, a co-host of ABC's "The View," said on the show today that NPR was wrong to fire Williams.

Goldberg walked off the set of the "The View" last week when O'Reilly said Muslims were to be blamed for the 9/11 attacks. She said the incidents were different because Williams was stating an opinion while O'Reilly was stating what he claimed was a fact.

"View" co-host Barbara Walters also said Williams should not have been fired.

"If you are someone who is giving your opinion, then you're allowed to give your opinion," the news veteran said. "You may or may not agree. Therefore, I think they were very wrong."

Two Republican politicians, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called on the federal government to pull funding for NPR for firing Williams.

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