Juan Williams: 'I've Always Felt the Right Wing was Inflexible and Intolerant'

>Former NPR senior analyst Juan Williams told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America" Friday that his surprise termination has changed his view of which side of the political aisle is actually the tolerant one.

"I've always thought the right wing was the ones who were inflexible and intolerant, and now I'm coming to realize that the orthodoxy at NPR, if it's representing the Left, is just unbelievable" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:  What do you think the issue is here? Do you think it’s just the fact that you were working for Fox became too much trouble for NPR? 

JUAN WILLIAMS: I think, you know what, this is one of the things in my life that's just such a shock to me, because I grew up basically on the left. I grew up here in New York City. You know, and I've always thought the right wing was the ones who were inflexible and intolerant, and now I'm coming to realize that the orthodoxy at NPR, if it's representing the Left, is just unbelievable. That, you know, and especially I think for me as a black man, to somehow, you know, say something that's out of the box. They find it very difficult. And I think that's right, George. I think they were looking for a reason to get rid of me, that they were uncomfortable with the idea that I was talking to the likes of Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: If they would have just come to you and said, you have to choose, it's NPR or Fox? What do you do? 

WILLIAMS: You know, that would have been tough, because I was at NPR before I was at Fox. I’m sorry, I was at Fox before I was at NPR. And I -- you know, I always thought both employers signed a check to me because they found some value in my presence, that I think that the audience views me as a highly-credible, veteran reporter, someone that they could trust. And for the right wing, I think I was often a foil for their large personalities. And on the left, I think I was a point of an unusual, unpredictable view, that I could bring insight and interest to their audience. And all of a sudden, NPR and especially this last group of managers, became vindictive, and as you can see, personal in terms of their antagonism toward me. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: We're out of time. One final question. Were you surprised by this, or did you see it coming? 

WILLIAMS: No. I knew about their antagonism towards Fox. And I knew that they didn't like it. As I said, I've been there more than ten years. So, I've seen managers come and go and who dealt with this issue. This current crew was really getting vicious, and as I say, personal, in terms of their animus. And so I had a sense that they really, you know, were looking for something. But you know what? I'm a good journalist. I work really hard. I  think the audience knows who I am, and they know exactly what they can expect from me, which is a good journalistic product. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: And they can watch you on "The O’Reilly Factor" tonight. 

WILLIAMS: I'll be there tonight hosting for O’Reilly, sitting in.

That's a nice, fair interview by Stephanopoulos, and a classy performance by Williams.

As readers are aware, I've had my problems with Juan from time to time, but have also praised him when he's been right on the money. Today was one of those times.

Bravo, Juan. Bravo.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.