An editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press has been fired after adding a pithy headline to a piece critical of President Obama’s stimulus plan. Author Drew Johnson announced on Twitter that he had been fired:
I just became the first person in the history of newspapers to be fired for writing a paper’s most-read article.
— Drew Johnson (@Drews_Views) August 1, 2013
The Times Free Press published the piece Tuesday under the headline “Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough.” Johnson has admitted the headline was his idea but claims headlines are changed routinely.
A statement published by the Free Press says Johnson’s decision to change the headline was the reason for his termination.
The headline was inappropriate for this newspaper. It was not the
original headline approved for publication, and Johnson violated the
normal editing process when he changed the headline. The newspaper’s
decision to terminate Johnson had nothing to do with the content of the
editorial, which criticized the president’s job creation ideas and
Chattanooga’s Smart Grid. The Free Press page has often printed
editorials critical of the president and his policies.
The piece itself is written as an open letter to the President who was visiting the area. It begins “Welcome to Chattanooga, one of hundreds of cities throughout this great
nation struggling to succeed in spite of your foolish policies that
limit job creation, stifle economic growth and suffocate the
entrepreneurial spirit.” The tone is similarly blunt throughout:
Even though 64 percent of Chattanooga respondents said they would rather you hadn’t chosen to visit our fair city, according to a survey on the Times Free Press website, it’s probably good that you’re here. It will give you an opportunity to see the failure of your most comprehensive jobs plan to date, the disastrous stimulus scheme, up close and personal.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 helped fund the Gig to Nowhere project, a $552 million socialist-style experiment in government-owned Internet, cable and phone services orchestrated by EPB — Chattanooga’s government-owned electric monopoly.
The rest of the article focuses on the failure of this project. He concludes the piece “So excuse us, Mr. President, for our lack of enthusiasm for your new
jobs program. Here in Chattanooga we’re still reeling from your old one.”