by Max Brantley
The Chattanooga Times Free Press, which is controlled by Walter Hussman, owner of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has fired the editorial page editor who wrote this headline, which drew national attention on President Obama's recent visit to Chattanooga:
"Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough."
The editorial, which criticized the viability of Obama's economic plan on a local level, coincided with the president's visit Tuesday to Chattanooga. The Times Free Press determined that editorial page editor Drew Johnson's altered headline was "inappropriate."
"It was not the original headline approved for publication, and Johnson violated the normal editing process when he changed the headline," the announcement read. "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 article notes that the newsaper retains both a conservative and liberal opinion page, a remnant of the combination of the conservative Free Press with the liberal Times, once owned by the same family that owns the New York Times. Walter Hussman's sympathies — indeed much of his game plan for his own newspaper building strategies came from the former Free Press owner — are not generally with those of the New York Times.
Chattanoogan.com, a local alternative news outlet, reported:
Soon after his dismissal, Mr. Johnson sent out this tweet, "I just became the first person in the history of newspapers to be fired for writing a paper's most-read article."
Mr. Johnson, 34, had been the replacement for Lee Anderson, who had a 70-year career with the newspaper.
He was the founder and first president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, a free market think tank and watchdog organization based in Nashville.
He was with the newspaper for just over a year.
The Hussman paper's editorial page article on the dismissal didn't say what the original headline said or who had approval over editorial page headlines. It said the newspaper supported the content of the editorial and past criticism of the president. It closed: "This newspaper places high value on expressions of divergent opinion, but will not permit violations of its standards."
I haven't found a news article on the matter on the newspaper's website.