NPR paid him to be an analyst, not to have personal opinions. He violated journalistic integrity. Period.
My comment to NPR: "Absolutely agree that Mr. Williams earned the right to lose his job. He wasn't performing to standards. He had been warned in the past. He could have asked for a commentators position. He could have removed himself from a tempting situation. I like him, personally, but I expect him and every other NPR reporter to do just that - report. Analyze. I may go to a book signing or read his book for a personal opinion. His was a sacred duty. NPR is one of THE last hopes for our democracy. The republic cannot stand without accurate, unbiased information disseminated to the voters. Loss of confidence in our journalists and media matches our loss of confidence in a political system that is flooded with special interest funds, and therefore entirely suspect. Thank you NPR for doing the right thing, hard as it was. I'll be sending in a donation. I also suspect a VAST majority of the flak you received was generated by non-listeners."
btw all of us have the right to be scared at any point in our lives, including Williams. What he didn't have is the right to express that in a public setting, in a role as representative of NPR, and keep his job, that clearly states he has to maintain journalistic standards - meaning he is unbiased in public. He would never have lost his job for saying those things in private or in public, while not performing as an NPR Analyst.
No one said he isn't decent and honorable and both a believer in and beneficiary of civil rights. However, if he worked for a large corporation like Coca Cola as a spokesperson, and admitted he liked Pepsi better while speaking at a conference *he would lose his job*.
We also don't let our military personnel demonstrate in political actions!? Has anyone ever wondered WHY? It's freaking common sense. People who represent our government in the armed services give up the right to express their political opinions pubically in their service to a high duty/calling. They protect all of us. Well so do certain (aka professional) journalists. It isn't his JOB to have an opinion. And he had numerous "slips" in the past.
Nina Totenberg had one, to my knowledge. AND her comments have been lately taken out of context - she didn't wish AIDS on anyone, but simply commented it would be an ironic sort of justice if Helms or one of his decendants contracted AIDS in light of his vociferous opposition to research for AIDS. Over the top, sure, but she, unlike Williams has an excellent track record.