The reports usually go something like this. Juan said "Look Bill, I'm not a bigot" [to which all editorialists sigh a collective "uh oh"] and then goes on:
But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.
OK. So he sounds like a jerk. But wait! The sound bite is truncated!
He goes on to point out that we're not castigating Christians after Timothy McVeigh blew up the Federal Building. Which intellectually refutes his earlier statement. He was using it as a lesson. We're focusing on people in Muslim "garb" (when they are statistically the least likely Muslims to be committing a terrorist act) and we're ignoring white chino-wearing men who, although he did not go on to say, are the most likely people to be committing a terrorist act (the 9./11 hijackers were shaved and wearing Western clothes.)
And furthermore admitting to being racist -- and feeling sorry about it -- is not the same as "making bigoted remarks". It's talking about race up-front. And that's to be lauded. You know, when you say to yourself "Hey, I'm thinking one thing or another because of the way someone else is dressed, or the color of their skin" then you're at least examining that thing.
And the fact is that Juan Williams is against profiling Muslims. So... what was the big deal?
Hmm... when has this happened before? Oh right, with Shirley Shirrod -- fired from her Agriculture position because a right-wing website had edited the video of making a speech she gave sound like she wouldn't do as much work for white people as black people (editing out her conclusion that such thinking was wrong and how she changed her mind.)
Thanks NPR, for being exactly the way the Right says you are!