This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," October 21, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Tonight from the Beltway and beyond we are getting reaction to Juan Williams' abrupt firing from his post at National Public Radio.
Now NPR announced earlier today that it had terminated Williams' contract effectively immediately for making the following comments on Monday night's O'Reilly show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE O'REILLY FACTOR" OCT. 18)
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the Civil Rights Movement in this country. But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Now this afternoon Fox News obtained an internal memo in which NPR president and CEO Vivian Schiller defended her decision, also adding that quote, "We're profoundly sorry this has happened during fundraising week."
Now our cameras caught up with Schiller a short time ago in Atlanta. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIVIAN SCHILLER, NPR PRESIDENT & CEO: His comments and his comments in the past, again, I want to -- I want to point out this isn't about the one issue. It's about sort of a pattern of issues that are very, very controversial.
We don't want our reporters and news analysts being the focus of news. We want them to cover the news. And when they become too much the story because they are expressing their own views that undermines our credibility as a news organization.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Now some of the biggest names in politics have expressed outrage over the decision, particularly because NPR receives funding from you the taxpayer.
Now both Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee are among the fast growing list of people calling for Congress to pull its funding for NPR. And for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin tweeted a message directly to Williams, writing, quote, "Juan Williams, you got a taste of the left's hypocrisy. They screwed up firing you."
Now is that a glaring hypocrisy that is perhaps most disturbing aspect of all of this. On the one hand NPR says its analysts shouldn't comment on, quote, "controversial issues" because it hurts the organization's credibility.
On the other hand NPR continues to employ the ultra liberal political analyst, Nina Totenberg. That's the same Nine Totenberg who once said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think I have any Jesse Helms defenders here, Nina.
NINA TOTENBERG, INSIDE WASHINGTON: Not me. I think he ought to be worried about the -- about what's going on in the good Lord's mind because if there's retributive justice he'll get AIDS from a transfusion or one of his grandchildren will get it.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Well, I guess over at NPR wishing AIDS on a prominent politician and his grandchildren is fine as long as that politician is a Republican.
And here with reaction to the firing and all the fallout, Fox News contributors, Bob Beckel and Dana Perino.
Guys, welcome back.
DANA PERINO, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Thank you.
BOB BECKEL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thank you, Sean.
HANNITY: All right. This, Bob, look, you and I disagree on issues, passionately on issues. You're a friend of mine. Juan Williams I know extraordinarily well. He doesn't have a bigoted bone in his body.
This firing is beyond the pale. And I think this is -- there's a very large issue we've got to address here that I want to get to the heart of. We have -- NPR getting, what, $1.8 million from Soros? Media Matters which has groups of people whose sole job is to monitor every conservative in this country, Bob. If they say one word, one phrase, one sentence they want to attack their advertisers, they want to get them fired.
Isn't that the bigger issue here? Is that liberals do not believe in free speech in this country?
BECKEL: Well, first of all, let me get back to the Juan Williams issue here for a second. First, what NPR did and that comment that the head of NPR made about not wanting to make their analysts into the news, they're the ones who made Juan into the news.
What Juan said was not analysis of the news, it was his own thoughts. And let me repeat exactly what he said, because I would put the words in my mouth. I don't like the thought that when I get on the plane and I see people in Muslim garb that it makes me nervous, but it does.
And the fact of the matter is, we've been wired here since 9/11 -- and we are at war against Muslim extremists. And so I think the whole thing is so illiberal, so wrong, so politically correct, and it gives the impression that those of us on the left -- and there are a lot of us, by the way, who agree with me on this. I think I can speak for a lot of liberals tonight -- that we find what NPR did to be outrageous, atrocious and well, well out of bounds as far as the liberal process is concern.
HANNITY: To what extent, Dana, do you think that this is a targeted effort now? And I've lived this my entire now adult career. And that they want to silence, intimidate, people that they disagree with.
PERINO: Sure. Remember the definition of liberal is to be open-minded. And I think --
PERINO: -- defined over and over again that that is not the cases when it comes to certain segments.
I was shocked this morning. When I woke up my first thought was they just made a hero out of Juan Williams. This guy is -- yes, sometimes I disagree with him. But he is not disagreeable. And he also is someone who is much loved all across America because he's unpredictable in terms of his analysis. You always learn something when you hear from him.
He said something interesting in a Fox News opinion piece that he wrote today where he said, you know, they've been wanting to do for a long time. They were looking for an excuse. And he talks about an episode where he was invited to do an interview with President Bush on race relations and they pulled it from him.
I was the press secretary at the time. I said well, if NPR is not going to let you do it, why don't we do it over at Fox News? And I think that, you know, maybe NPR says that it's been coming for a long time. I think that that was kind of the pinpoint moment.
And the way that NPR has handled this is so ham-handed that I think that it has done irreparable damage to its brand.
HANNITY: All right. And that raises the question whether or not public tax dollars, that means everybody watching this program contributes to putting NPR on the air.
Let me show another sound bite of Schiller actually suggesting that he may need a psychiatrist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHILLER: Juan feels the way he feels -- that is not for me to pass judgment on. That is really his feelings that he expressed on Fox News are really between him and his, you know psychiatrist or his publicist or take your pick. But it is not compatible with a news analyst -- with the role of a news analyst on NPR's air.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Bob --
PERINO: But Sean, can I just say? If Juan Williams had said I went down to the Tea Party rally, I saw what those people were wearing, they were crazy and it scared me. Do you think for a second that they would have decided to fire him?
HANNITY: No. No.
PERINO: Absolutely not.
BECKEL: That -- that --
HANNITY: Wait, wait. But look at what Nina Totenberg said. She was -- Bob, you didn't like Jesse Helms.
BECKEL: No, I didn't and I --
HANNITY: Would you wish --
BECKEL: What I just heard is even more outrageous. That's the first I heard that.
First of all, who is this woman to suggest he -- first of all, has a psychiatrist, number one, and who should give the idea that somehow she should be giving some advice to what he should do.
And when she gets -- when Fox caught up with her and she said this has been a series of things if you noticed she said that, I have not heard of a single thing that NPR has thought about Juan and the problem with Juan before this issue. And that is something -- she talks about fundraising, I contribute to NPR.
HANNITY: Let's be honest here.
BECKEL: I'm not contributing to NPR, I can promise you that. Not this year in honor of Juan Williams.
BECKEL: That is just illiberal.
HANNITY: Yes, but wait a minute. Here's Fox fair and balanced Beckel as evidenced by you and by -- evidenced by Pat Caddell, and -- you know, I've interviewed Michael Moore. I can go through it. And Lanny Davis and Terry McAuliffe, and a whole variety of people I disagree with.
Juan was on the show last night. We disagreed. Now the question here is, I think there's a broader issue. And I want to go back to this. Nina Totenberg can suggest that Jesse Helms and his grandchildren get AIDS. She said that. She still works there at the station.
PERINO: Not only that, Sean, but then you hear the people laugh.
HANNITY: And then you hear the laughing. True.
PERINO: Because they think that's so funny. Right.
HANNITY: So but the question is, this well orchestrated, well funded, in many ways, now I to give a lot of credit to Fox. He got a promotion today. He got an extended contract today and he deserves it.
Because he's a -- he is a great commentator. He brings a lot to the table as a contributor and somebody who has a lot of shows on this network. What about George Soros donating this money to Media Matters to monitor people to get them thrown off the air. What about, you know, giving money to NPR? It's like, you know, somehow we have this magical hand and we are going to try and pick off people one at a time?
That's a pretty chilling effect, Bob, on free speech.
BECKEL: Well, let's keep in mind the cock brothers of whatever you want to call them -- Coach Brothers -- who are doing exactly the same thing, they avenge (ph) liberals on the other side.
Let's not get into that. The bigger issue is here -- the president, this woman, Schiller of this -- of NPR has --
BECKEL: Schiller, rather, has done irreparable damage to a very good organization. Nina Totenberg, I commented on that back then. I thought it was outrageous and I couldn't imagine they would let her get away with saying that.
What Juan Williams said paled in comparison to that.
HANNITY: We got --
BECKEL: And if this woman --
HANNITY: We got more to come. Last question.
BECKEL: If this woman thinks -- yes.
HANNITY: Should we defund them?
BECKEL: Well, we don't fund them.
PERINO: I think that if they're willing to take $1.8 million from George Soros, it's a small amount of their budget that they get from the American taxpayer but maybe it is time to change that.
HANNITY: All right. We got to run. Guys, good to see you both. Thank you both for being here.
And you can hear directly from Juan Williams. He's posted a column and I think everybody should read it. "I Was Fired for Telling the Truth." It's on FoxNews.com. Be sure to check that out.
Content and Programming Copyright 2010 Fox News Network, Inc. Copyright 2010 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.