Prominent News Analyst Fired for Comment

Juan Williams, a very well known news analyst for liberal news station NPR, was fired after commenting that seeing flight passengers wearing Muslim attire on planes made him nervous. The firing has caused much debate, as many are questioning whether or not it was fair of NPR to fire him for this. Following his firing, the CEO of NPR, Vivian Schiller, said that Williams’ feelings about seeing plane passengers wearing Muslim garb is an issue that he should “discuss with his psychiatrist”. This comment caused even more debate, as it was seen as unnecessary by some to deride him in this matter, on top of firing him, for a comment that many people saw as being harmless. Schiller released an apology after making this statement. Immediately following his firing, Williams signed a multi-year deal with competitors, Fox News. The questions that can be asked from a public relations perspective regarding this issue are what this situation means for NPR, for Juan Williams, and for Fox news.

With regards to Juan Williams and his comment, I do not feel that it was a comment worthy of firing, but do feel that he could have done a better job at avoiding  this type of miscommunication. Though his comment may have seemed harmless to many, others may see it as anti-Muslim, which could harm his image as an objective news analyst.

With regards to NPR, I feel that the CEO of NPR, Vivian Schiller, has brought bad publicity to NPR by allowing both the firing and the malicious comments. Following her derogatory comment towards Williams, various Fox news analysts fought back,  one stating that she was a “pinhead”, and another that she was “not smart enough to run a news station”.  Another Fox News contributor even stated that the way that NPR fired Williams was “vulgar and pitiful” . It is speculated that the real reason for Williams’ firing was because of his role as a Fox news contributor, which NPR did not necessarily approve of. By throwing a malicious comment into the situation, Schiller made the situation seem more personal and has made NPR look bad. I think this is a situation that will require NPR’s public relations team to do a lot of image repair.

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Minnesota Viking’s quaterback involved in scandal

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre is currently involved in a scandal involving game hostess Jenn Sterger. Favre has been accused of sexual harassment, as Sterger released voicemails and photo messages that are believed to be from Favre. Favre is also in the process of writing a book on how celebrity athletes should deal with a sexual crisis. In his book Favre claims that in the midst of a crisis, it is best not to admit to anything, not to apologize, and to show off your talent. He has not said much regarding the scandal. However, he has already been removed from the NFL broadcasts by “Wrangler”. The question of whether the NFL should suspend Favre reigns.

From a public relations perspective, I feel that NFL did make a good move in removing his “wrangler” adds from NFL broadcasts. Any time someone is involved in a sexual harassment scandal, his/her image is questionable to the public, making any products that they are possibly endorsing become associated with their negative image. I think that until the definite facts of his involvement in this sexual harassment case is determined, it is not necessary to actually suspend him. I also feel that his statements about dealing with a scandal are somewhat flawed; from a public relations perspective, it seems more sensible to admit your wrongs and apologize, rather than withhold the truth from the public. Not being apologetic or admitting his wrongs could make it seem that he has not learned from his mistakes,  making his image remain tainted from the scandal in the public’s eyes.

“State’s Attorney Is Accused of Stalking”


In Ann Arbor, Michigan, Attorney General Andrew Shrivell is being charged with stalking and being given a restraining order. Anthony Shrivell is an assistant attorney general for the State of Michigan. He is a former student of the University of Michigan, who began protesting against a student, Chris Armstrong, who is the openly gay president of the University’s student council. The attorney general is apparently an anti-homosexual advocate, and claims that Armstrong has a “radical homosexual agenda” to “recruit students to the homosexual lifestyle”.  He started a website aimed against Armstrong’s supposed agenda. He also has been following Armstrong to rallies, which resulted in him being banned from the University of Michigan campus. Even after his ban, he has followed Armstrong on campus and made a video of campus police shutting down a party at his dorm room. This is when the student decided to get a restraining order against the assistant attorney general. Andrew Shrivell’s boss, Attorney General Mike Cox, has refused to fire him, claiming that he has First Amendment rights, and that he does not feel that Shrivell’s actions give him license to fire him. Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, the former attorney general, claims that she would have fired him immediately.

From a public relations perspective, one of the questions that can be asked is: Will it bring in bad publicity for the current attorney general to refuse to fire Shrivell?

In my opinion, Andrew Shrivell’s actions are very extreme and could constitute firing. He could have approached the situation differently and still voiced his concern and disapproval with the student’s “radical gay recruitment plan”. However, Shrivell showed extremity and hatred by following the student around to rallies, creating a hateful website, and even making a video of him in his college dorm room. This is extreme behavior that should not be taken lightly by the current attorney general, and in my opinion, it is likely to bring in PR to the attorney general and all those involved. I feel that the attorney general should express more concern with Shrivell’s actions, in order to avoid appearing insensitive to the issue/the severity of his actions. If he does not handle the issue carefully, It could likely bring in a lot of negative attention from the public and from gay rights groups.