Fox News Gives Fired NPR Reporter Juan Williams Fat New Contract

Contributor’s three-year pact said to be worth close to $2 million

Less than 24 hours after NPR fired Juan Williams over comments about Muslims he made earlier in the week on Fox News, the cable channel announced on Thursday that it had signed Williams to a fat new contract.

Williams, who has served as a part-time contributor on Fox News since 1997, got an expanded, multi-year deal from the cable channel Thursday. Terms were not disclosed, though a source close to the network said Williams is getting a pay hike that will net him close to $2 million over three years. (The Los Angeles Times was the first to report Williams' new deal.)

“Juan has been a staunch defender of liberal viewpoints since his tenure began at FOX News in 1997," FNC chief Roger Ailes said in a statement announcing Williams' new deal. "He’s an honest man whose freedom of speech is protected by FOX News on a daily basis.”

On Monday's "Factor," Williams told Bill O’Reilly that he gets “nervous” on planes when he sees people who are in “Muslim garb.” Those comments led to his termination from NPR on Wednesday.

Williams — who responded to his firing from NPR earlier in the day on Fox News — will be featured as a guest on O'Reilly's "Factor" on Thursday and will guest-host the show on Friday. (By my count, Williams will have appeared on Fox News Thursday at least three different times.)

Meanwhile, NPR president and CEO Vivian Schiller apologized for a comment she made about Williams at an Atlanta Press Club appearance earlier in the day. During the event, Schiller suggested Williams should have kept his feelings about Muslims between himself and "his psychiatrist."

"I spoke hastily and I apologize to Juan and others for my thoughtless remark," Schiller said in a statement later Thursday.

She did not apologize, however, for the memo she sent to NPR affiliates, also on Thursday, in which she claimed that this "isn’t the first time" NPR has had "serious concerns about some of Juan’s public comments," and that his firing was not based on one isolated event.