Like many, I was baffled by the strange circumstances surrounding the resignation of Ellen Weiss, a woman who had made her decades-long career at NPR, in the aftermath of the poorly-executed firing of Juan Williams. Paul Farhi has finally unraveled the mystery:
An internal investigation launched by NPR’s board in the wake of the Williams affair broadened into questions about Weiss’s command of the newsroom. While several employees acknowledged her role in building NPR into a radio-news powerhouse and emerging digital-news player, they also questioned her methods.
More than a dozen NPR employees, including some of its well-known hosts, aired long-standing grievances to investigators about Weiss’s management style, particularly the way she had carried out a series of layoffs and terminations in 2008. Weiss’s decision to fire Williams without benefit of a face-to-face meeting sounded familiar to those who recounted similar episodes, according to people who spoke with the investigating team.
More damning was the suggestion – hotly disputed by people close to Weiss – that Weiss had preempted her boss, Schiller, in telling Williams that he had to go.