President Obama visited Tennessee last week where he was greeted by a mass of protesters. In fact, the entire state seemed to react. Vulnerable republican legislators who are under fire for their more moderate, liberal positions distanced themselves from the President, and then came a surprise from the Chattanooga Times Free Press, which is a local newspaper. An article headlined “Take Your Jobs Plan and Shove it, Mr. President” ran front and center. The article was written by editorial manager, Drew Johnson. Being a medium sized newspaper it is not often that their articles make headlines across the country. However, Johnson changed that. Media from around the country picked up Johnson’s editorial and it became the most read article ever published by the paper.
Johnson says the next day his boss told him that the headline had offended some people, and in the future to run changes by another editor just to have an extra set of eyes on it. Johnson apologized and agreed to the new policy. The paper fired Johnson the next day for “violating the normal editing process”. However, the new policy was in place only after the paper published the article. Furthermore, most people read it online and Johnson says they could have changed the title at any point. He says, “They fired me for a policy that never existed until after I wrote the piece.” Johnson also says, “If it had said President Bush instead of President Obama I’d still have my job today.”
Johnson tweeted, “I just became the first person in the history of newspapers to be fired for writing a paper’s most-read article.” Johnson also says through Twitter that his wife was fired months ago for exposing the truth in articles concerning a local power company. The Obama editorial remains online, but with a new title.
Nashville Tea Party founder, Ben Cunningham, set up a donation page yesterday for Johnson stating,
“My Friend, Drew Johnson, did not deserve to be fired and certainly not within two weeks of his wedding and shortly before his birthday. In fact, He deserves a bonus and I hope you will join with me and see that he gets rewarded for asserting the most precious right we all have and that is free speech.”
So far, almost $1,500 has been raised.
We spoke with Johnson briefly yesterday and he did not wish to further comment publicly on the event, as he was celebrating his birthday.