Surprise: Fox News signs Juan Williams to new $2 million deal

When I joked about him being the richest man in town, little did I know.

The best part of this is the prospect of a feeding frenzy among Fox’s other lefty contributors to try to cash in by following Williams’s example. Coming soon: KP calls for militarizing the Mexican border in hopes of getting fired by the Daily Beast?

As National Public Radio weathered a storm of criticism Thursday for its decision to fire news analyst Juan Williams for his comments about Muslims, Fox News moved aggressively to turn the controversy to its advantage by signing Williams to an expanded role at the cable news network.

Fox News Chief Executive Roger Ailes handed Williams a new three-year contract Thursday morning, in a deal that amounts to nearly $2 million, a considerable bump up from his previous salary, the Tribune Washington Bureau has learned. The Fox News contributor will now appear exclusively and more frequently on the cable news network and have a regular column on

“Juan has been a staunch defender of liberal viewpoints since his tenure began at Fox News in 1997,” Ailes said in a statement, adding a jab at NPR: “He’s an honest man whose freedom of speech is protected by Fox News on a daily basis.”

To celebrate his new status as a full-time contributor, his new column is up at Title: “I Was Fired for Telling the Truth.” Read it all, but the most interesting bit is his recounting of longstanding animus among the NPR brass towards Fox News:

Years ago NPR tried to stop me from going on “The Factor.” When I refused they insisted that I not identify myself as an NPR journalist. I asked them if they thought people did not know where I appeared on the air as a daily talk show host, national correspondent and news analyst. They refused to budge…

Later on the 50th anniversary of the Little Rock crisis President Bush offered to do an NPR interview with me about race relations in America. NPR management refused to take the interview on the grounds that the White House offered it to me and not their other correspondents and hosts. One NPR executive implied I was in the administration’s pocket, which is a joke, and there was no other reason to offer me the interview. Gee, I guess NPR news executives never read my bestselling history of the civil rights movement “Eyes on the Prize – America’s Civil Rights Years,” or my highly acclaimed biography “Thurgood Marshall –American Revolutionary.” I guess they never noticed that “ENOUGH,” my last book on the state of black leadership in America, found a place on the New York Times bestseller list.

This all led to NPR demanding that I either agree to let them control my appearances on Fox News and my writings or sign a new contract that removed me from their staff but allowed me to continue working as a news analyst with an office at NPR. The idea was that they would be insulated against anything I said or wrote outside of NPR because they could say that I was not a staff member. What happened is that they immediately began to cut my salary and diminish my on-air role. This week when I pointed out that they had forced me to sign a contract that gave them distance from my commentary outside of NPR I was cut off, ignored and fired.

As I say, read it all or else you’ll miss the part at the end where he notes that, for such a forward-thinking progressive flagship, NPR’s on-air talent seem to come in rather few hues. As for the nascent defunding campaign, that’s picking up steam too: As you’ll see below, O’Reilly was pushing it hard earlier this afternoon — with more to come tonight on the Factor, no doubt — and Boehner’s already hinting that, in a time of budgetary overload, taxpayer money for public radio may not be there next year. That won’t be a grievous loss for NPR; federal funds account for less than two percent of their budget. In fact, the CEO was boasting just this morning about how little they rely on public money. So it’s settled then — no more taxpayer funding, no harm, no foul. Let the healing begin!