– NPR and its public radio stations around the country got an earful from listeners and angry citizens in the middle of pledge season Friday over its firing of commentator Juan Williams, receiving thousands of complaints and scattered threats to withhold donations.
Williams, a one-time Washington Post reporter who has written several books on race, would have appeared an unlikely candidate to provoke this kind of furor. But there he was on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Monday night, confessing a certain unease. “When I get on a plane,” he said, “I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”
Two days later, he got the boot from NPR , despite a decade with the radio network.
Still, a number of major stations said they are meeting or surpassing their fundraising goals in the wake of the furor over Williams’ dismissal for saying he gets nervous on a plane when he sees Muslims.
On Friday, Williams said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that NPR had been “looking for a reason to get rid of me” for some time because its executives disapproved of his appearances on Fox (his other employer).
“They were uncomfortable with the idea that I was talking to the likes of Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity,” Williams said.