Columnists Fired After Criticizing Bush
October 1, 2001 2:52 PM   Subscribe

Columnists Fired After Criticizing Bush Two columnists for dailies in Texas and Oregon have been fired after writing pointed opinion pieces critical of President Bush's handling of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
posted by stevis (20 comments total)
 
Lemme guess, it's the paper's perogative to fire columnists if they feel like it, right guys, seeing as how newspapers are just a business like anything else?
posted by Doug at 3:03 PM on October 1, 2001


Although I'd love to jump on the anti-thoughtcrime bandwagon, I'm all about firing useless local columnists. :D

And really, it appears that they weren't exactly taking the high road in their criticisms. Being obnoxious about Bush's flight on 9/11? That was the Secret Service trying to protect the President. There's plenty of stuff to criticize Bush for; that's not one of them.
posted by solistrato at 3:08 PM on October 1, 2001


If anything, the two columnists' "critical" columns of Bush highlighted their partisanship and bias. Maybe the two papers don't want columnists that will make silly partisan unsupported swipes like that on their payroll?
posted by Witold at 3:15 PM on October 1, 2001


Writers do not control publishing.

Their articles were most likely checked by an editor and probably got checked a few more times just to make sure no one gets in trouble. I'm highly suspicious of the motive here, it looks like enough uber-patriots sent in enough complaints to get these people fired after the fact.

Its one thing to reject an article and another to fire someone on approved content. Chalk this up to the thought police.
posted by skallas at 3:47 PM on October 1, 2001


Actually in Gutting's case he did not show it to his editor as was routine for his job and also was encouraged to write controversial pieces. Still looks like a victim to me.
posted by skallas at 3:51 PM on October 1, 2001


Actually, at least one of the columns was not read by anybody else prior to publication. He stated that it was his first job where his work was not required to be reviewed by an editor.
posted by nickonomicon at 3:51 PM on October 1, 2001


Doug: Lemme guess, it's the paper's perogative to fire columnists if they feel like it, right guys, seeing as how newspapers are just a business like anything else?

Yes. Now was that so hard to admit? Next...
posted by davidmsc at 3:55 PM on October 1, 2001


This does kind of chill the current journalistic environment, though. It shows very clearly that hypothetically if a President were to be overly corrupt with say Saudi money and that led to a protracted conflict and loss of life of Americans and that President had successfully marketed himself into massive popularity that the press could not only not speak out against it, but would be reticent to cover it as well. Chilling, eh, what?
posted by shagoth at 4:24 PM on October 1, 2001


Lemme guess, it's the paper's perogative to fire columnists if they feel like it, right guys, seeing as how newspapers are just a business like anything else?

Freedom of the press belongs to he who owns one.

However, I do think it's both spineless and damaging for a publisher to fire columnists for having unpopular opinions. Can you imagine how much more boring and safe opinion commentary will be in those papers from now on?
posted by rcade at 4:49 PM on October 1, 2001


I vote thoughtcrime. Both people are columnists. Newspapers hire columnists to express their opinions, and they generally have an idea of what those opinions will be before they hire them.

It's especially cowardly for the editor at the Daily Courier to approve the column and then fire the columnist for writing it. If printing the column was terrible enough to apoligize for, he should resign since he is more responsible for it appearing in the paper than the columnist is.

p.s. And I think it's perfectly legitimate to criticize Bush's actions on September 11; after all, the White House was so concerned about that criticism that they lied about the threat to his safety. (I think they followed necessary and standard procedures to protect the president, but they should not have lied about it, and his lack of visibility on September 11 compared to other politicians was alarming to me.)
posted by kirkaracha at 4:49 PM on October 1, 2001


Thank God for unbiased and nonpartisan columnists like oh, say, Ann Coulter and Peggy Noonan. Their abhorrence of silly, partisan, unsupported comments make their jobs secure at least, hopefully.

As far as Our President's unplanned and frantic trip to the bowels of a Nebraska bunker, what's the problem? The hijackers *could* have found and rammed Air Force One in all those millions of cubic miles of airspace, or actually dived an airliner into the very classroom Bush was sitting in in Florida. Somehow. It Could Have Happened.

And I for one was glad to see Bush taking orders from the Secret Service and stifling his own macho instincts, like those he exhibited in Vietnam.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 4:57 PM on October 1, 2001


I would really like to read the articles involved here. I looked around on the web, but didn't find them. Looks like Tom Gutting was a May graduate of Johns Hopkins University, and his addition to the Texas City Sun was just announced in July. For anyone interested, his editor's apology is online, as well as a rebuttal to Gutting's opinion piece entitled Bush's leadership has been superb.
posted by bragadocchio at 5:06 PM on October 1, 2001


So, the newspaper's website has an apology for the column, a rebuttal to the column and a story about the national attention the newspaper has received as a result of the column (and subsequent firing), but not the column; this may mark the day irony officially returned.
posted by boaz at 5:42 PM on October 1, 2001


If you don't want to get fired by hick editors, don't write for hick papers.
posted by Optamystic at 5:42 PM on October 1, 2001


There's no chilling effect. A chilling effect is when something would not be printed. These two guys are free to continue publishing their opinions. They just have to pay for it themselves.
posted by prodigal at 7:28 PM on October 1, 2001


No one read his column before it went out?

I'm sorry, but I really don't believe that. Even if his editor didn't read it, there are still copy editors and such. And usually, if they see something they think is gonna bother enough people, it gets looked at by important-type people too.

I worked at a college newspaper for a while, and nothing I wrote ever went out without at least four people looking at it. And I was one of the ones they trusted.

I really have trouble believing that my school paper has a more rigorous editing process than a professional paper.
posted by fidelity at 9:57 PM on October 1, 2001


What fold_and_mutilate said.
Seems that only one kind of criticism is deemed unworthy and is being stifled. We've always been at war with Eurasia.
posted by nofundy at 6:30 AM on October 2, 2001


Thank God for unbiased and nonpartisan columnists like oh, say, Ann Coulter and Peggy Noonan. Their abhorrence of silly, partisan, unsupported comments make their jobs secure at least, hopefully.

Ann Coulter was axed by the National Review yesterday :)
posted by terrapin at 7:19 AM on October 2, 2001


Ann Coulter's response to the attacks was insane. and hilarious.
posted by ProfLinusPauling at 3:19 PM on October 2, 2001


Hey guys, it's not like Ari Fleischer didn't warn them! And if Ann would give up hand jobs and blowing clowns and go for straight sex maybe she would chill a little.
posted by nofundy at 7:26 AM on October 3, 2001


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