Ex-NPR vet Bob Edwards ripped into the radio network for firing Juan Williams over remarks he made on Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor" earlier this week and claimed his former employer is deliberately unloading its senior members.
Edwards, former "Morning Edition" host who now works as Sirius XM Radio, said he thought the firing of Williams after saying he felt uneasy when he saw passengers wearing Muslim garb on board a plane during an interview Monday had as much to do with NPR's policy toward its senior members than political correctness.
"I think particularly senior people are vulnerable, and I know at NPR they would like to unload my generation and move on to the next,” Edwards told Niteside at the Center for Public Integrity’s 20th anniversary party at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Thursday night.
When asked if 56-year-old Williams' firing was an example of this, Edwards said: “I think they found a good excuse, and it’s a shame, but you know there are fewer jobs now unless you want to blog and hope to be an entrepreneurial type.“
NPR said in a statement that the remarks that led to Williams' termination were "inconsistent" with the editorial standards and practices and "undermined his credibility" as a senior news analyst at the station.
Edwards, who was removed as host of "Morning Edition" in 2004 and left the station shortly afterward, said he found that reasoning suspect.
“I don’t quite understand what it’s (the firing) about since the man is a commentator and it’s understood he’s going to have opinions when he’s on television,” Edwards said. “NPR seemed all right with that for quite a few years.”
He later added, “I don’t know how Juan could be suspected of harboring any bigotry.”
On Thursday, Williams signed a three-year, $2 million contract with Fox on Thursday.
NPR declined to comment.