Thursday, October 21, 2010
Robert Lang and Associated Press
The father of a Westminster marine killed in Iraq, who is calling NPR’s decision to fire Juan Williams “hypocritical” since the public radio network filed a “friend of the court” brief supporting the First Amendment rights of a church group that picketed at his son’s funeral.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard Al Snyder’s case against the Westboro Baptist Church over a lawsuit for the group’s protest at his son’s funeral.
Snyder called WBAL’s C4 Show today to comment on the firing.
“It just outrages me that NPR would fire him (Williams) for freedom of speech, yet send in a brief defending Phelps’ (Westboro church found Fred Phelps) actions. It is unbelievable. What a bunch of hypocrites.”
The Hearst Corporation, the owner of WBAL Radio, signed the same “friend of the court” brief NPR and other news organizations signed that defends the church group’s First Amendment rights.
NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller is defending the firing of news analyst Juan Williams after his comments on the Fox News Channel, saying his feelings about Muslims are between him and “his psychiatrist or his publicist.”
Schiller spoke Thursday at the Atlanta Press Club. She said Williams’ firing is not a reflection of his comments that he gets nervous when he sees people in Muslim garb on an airplane.
She says she has no problem with people taking controversial positions, but that such opinions should not come from NPR reporters or news analysts. Schiller says Williams is a news analyst, not a commentator or columnist.
She says the firing came after “several cases” of Williams veering from journalistic ethics.
Schiller says NPR’s ethics rules apply to contractors, too.