Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Appleton's Politburo In Action

Drew Johnson, the former editorial page editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press was fired after publishing an anti-Obama headline that was described as a violation of company policy. The editorial, which ran during a presidential visit to Chattanooga, described the lamentable impact of the administration's corporatist "stimulus" initiatives. Johnson's headline, which certainly resonated with the views of most of the newspaper's readership, was: "Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough."

Within a few hours, Johnson's editorial went viral. Shortly thereafter, he was fired. His employers released a statement claiming that he was "terminated after placing a headline on an editorial outside of normal editing procedures." That was a lie: Johnson later explained that the "policy" he had supposedly violated were put into place after he had been fired. This was, Johnson said, essentially a "retroactive firing."

His editor-in-chief claimed that she had received "a lot of complaints from Obama supporters," which is to be expected. However, his editorial was one of the most widely-circulated pieces ever published by the paper. Johnson wryly describes himself as "the first person in the history of newspapers to be fired for writing a paper's most-read article."

Johnson may well own that distinction. However, he was not the first editor to be fired from a publication for violating a policy that didn't exist at the time. In that respect, I have him beat by nearly seven years.

The New American and JBS fired me in October 2006 for maintaining a personal blog and using it to republish a piece they had rejected a few months earlier. Although that essay was not nearly as widely read as Mr. Johnson's editorial, it did receive quite a bit of attention during the two or three hours it was available on the Birch Blog before being taken down. A number of people had asked me what had happened to that essay. As its author, I had sole and exclusive rights to it after TNA decided to take it off their site, so I republished it on Pro Libertate.

In the officious letter I received the day I was fired, Art Thompson, the droning fool who still occupies the position of JBS CEO, claimed that "once we have rejected an article or nuance, you cannot go around us to post it elsewhere, identifying it as rejected material and publicly criticizing your employer for the rejection."

There was no overt criticism of JBS management in the blog entry in which I republished that essay. What Art was saying is that republishing that essay and letting people know it was rejected was an impermissible act of criticism, a form of lese-majeste that simply had to be punished. This was not established policy at the time of my termination. It was something Art extracted from his emunctory aperture to justify the decision to get rid of me.

Just as a skunk becomes inured to its own repellent bouquet, the clique in Appleton has long since lost the ability to notice the stench of their own hypocrisy. Thus it didn't surprise me at all to see TNA run a piece describing the injustice suffered by Drew Johnson at the hands of the craven, opportunistic people running the Times Free Press. The article (written by a former colleague who is a far better and more decent man than anybody in JBS upper management) concluded with a paragraph richly laden with irony:

"Some Free Press readers responded to the firing by logging on to the paper's Facebook page and expressing their own opinions. `Free Press means free to print as long as the Politburo approves it, right?' one reader posted. `You have FREE PRESS in your name but someone get’s fired for their opinion — WOW,' wrote another. A third reader noted that the paper `fired the guy who wrote his opinions against the president? That’s cool. … Free Press? Right.'"

For several years, the bold and valiant defenders of decency in Appleton have used every means at their disposal to block my access to comment threads at TNA, on the JBS YouTube channel, and elsewhere. Shortly after TNA published its piece on Drew Johnson, I was able to circumvent the lockout and post the following comment:

Here's the relevant portion: "Do a search-and-replace substituting `The New American' for "Free Press," and `William Grigg' for `Drew Johnson,' and you could publish this story without any other significant alterations."

As of this writing (circa 2:00 AM August 6), the comment is still available. I'm confident to the point of a moral certainty that Gary Benoit will rectify that oversight sometime later this morning -- after catching up on the latest Mel Gibson-related news, of course.

UPDATE, August 6, 8:30 a.m.

They really are as predictable as a Zimbabwean presidential election, aren't they? Yes, the comment has been deleted, and my newly created account has been blocked. I would wager that the people in charge of policing comment threads for state-run news sites in Communist-ruled China are less zealous about purging evidence of dissenting opinion. In dealing with dissent, the Appleton Politburo consistently displays a Stalinist disposition.

1 comment:

Michael said...


Your comment on the New American website (and its subsequent deletion) backs up what I've thought for years: That the John Birch Society, under both its current and previous management (aka Vance Smith), does not well tolerate views or opinions that run contrary to its own.

This is one of the things that convinced me that it was time to resign. Seemed to me at the time that the society did not want to hear any point-of-view other than its own and I was of the opinion then, and now, that the Society could have been more effective by working with similarly like-minded groups. Generally speaking, however, the JBS refused to do so, insisting that it had the real keys to "saving the constitution"....obviously I wasn't convinced.

Keep up the good work.