washingtonpost.com story by Paul Farhi.
Some blamed congressional conservatives and Fox News - which had repeatedly denounced NPR since the October firing - for inflaming the situation, which led to the resignation on Thursday of Ellen Weiss, NPR's senior vice president for news. Weiss (pictured right) was the NPR executive who terminated Williams for saying he was "nervous" flying on a plane with people in "Muslim garb" on Bill O'Reilly's TV program. Since his firing, Williams signed a three-year contract with Fox for almost $2 million.
"We have allowed Fox News to define the debate," wrote Peter Block, a member of the board of Cincinnati Public Radio, in a posting to an e-mail group consisting of public radio managers. He added, "I do not think this kind of capitulation [by NPR] assures the future of an independent press. . . . Democracy is on the line and NPR is one of the last bastions of its possibility." Block said in an interview that NPR's reaction "lacked integrity."
Following a two-month internal investigation, NPR's board questioned the "speed and handling" of Williams's firing, which Weiss carried out with a phone call and without a face-to-face meeting. As a result of the investigation, the board also voted to deny NPR President Vivian Schiller (left), who approved the termination, a bonus in 2010. Neither Schiller nor board members have commented in detail about the reasons for her disciplinary action or for Weiss's resignation.
People at NPR said resigning may have preserved severance payments that Weiss would have had to forgo had she been fired.
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