Sunday, January 9, 2011

Remember Juan Williams?

The fallout from NPR's decision to terminate the contract of former news analyst Juan Williams reached the network's highest levels Thursday as its top news executive, Ellen Weiss, resigned.

The announcement of her departure came the same day as the release of the findings of an external review commissioned by the NPR board of directors in the wake of the episode. The NPR board also said it would overhaul the network's ethics and human resources policies.

The report, carried out by the law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges, found the dismissal of Williams to be legal. The report concluded that the network and Weiss, NPR's senior vice president for news, gave Williams adequate notice and broke no element of his contract.

That said, the way in which Weiss dismissed Williams — by phone — became a flashpoint that erupted into a public and political debate.

"It doesn't surprise me that somebody was going to go, after the incredibly sloppy, messy and often embarrassing severance of Juan Williams," said Robert Siegel, the host of All Things Considered and a longtime and admiring colleague of Weiss.

If you fire someone for unfairly firing someone else, shouldn't the first person fired be rehired?

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