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Letter to Congress re Juan Williams: Share/Modify/Ignore

I wrote the following letter to all three members of Alaska’s Congressional delegation. If you think that Congress shouldn’t be micromanaging agencies/quasi-agencies and/or think that due process ought to be given a chance to work, I hope you’ll write your Member of Congress too:


I am writing you today to urge you not to support any action in the matter of Juan Williams’ firing from NPR. This is a personnel matter. If Mr. Williams feels that he was wrongfully terminated, he should sue NPR and let the courts decide the issue.

I am not asking you to take a position of support or opposition either for NPR or for Mr. Williams. I simply want you you to treat this case as the labor-management dispute it is. There are many urgent matters requiring the attention of Congress. Intervention over one man’s firing is not one of them.


Daniel Cornwall


You might wonder why I took such a neutral tone when you can guess that I was pretty appalled by Mr. Williams comments. Two reasons:

1) Two out of three of my Delegation are Republicans. An “NPR is clearly right” letter won’t carry much weight with them.

2) Despite the appalling nature of Mr. Williams comments, I’m not sure NPR is without blame. Without a doubt I think Mr. Williams should have faced some sort of discipline, but I’m not sure firing was the answer. At least not as a first step. Was he given a chance to apologize and retract his comments? If he had picked on any group beside Muslims, say Christians, I’m positive there would be calls for apologies if not ouster.

In any event though, I feel very strongly that Congress has no businesses intervening in individual firings like this, especially seeing as how NPR is NOT a federal agency but rather a non-profit organization. Congress doesn’t determine who the NRA or US Conference of Catholiic Bishops can fire and they shouldn’t for NPR.

For NPR non-agency status, see their history at http://www.npr.org/about/aboutnpr/history.html#history, “NPR was incorporated on February 26, 1970, by 90 forward-thinking charter stations to provide national news programming.”

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