A Tennessee opinion page editor wrote the most popular story in the history of the Chattanooga Times Free Press and as a reward—he was fired. Drew Johnson’s headline was critical of President Barack Obama’s newest jobs plan. On Thursday evening he announced via Twitter that he had been fired.
Chattanooga Times Free Press now former opinion editor headlined on the President Obama’s jobs plan story read:
“Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough.”
The headline was Johnson’s humorous take on a hit country song from 1977 entitled, “Take this Job and Shove it.” The Tennessee newspaper claims that Drew Johnson was fired because he placed a headline on an opinion piece “outside of normal editing procedures.”
A statement the Chattanooga Times Free Press posted on its website in reference to the opinion page editor’s firing reads:
“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.”
I worked for newspapers for many years and firmly believe that Drew Johnson’s firing for such a minor policy infraction is virtually unheard of, to say the least. I seriously doubt that an editor has ever been fired for writing an engaging and opinionated headline for an editorial piece in the history of the news industry. The headline matched the sentiments in the article extremely well. If Johnson did indeed violate a written policy about headline alterations, than a notice on the newspaper’s website or retraction in the next print edition would have been a normal course of action. Most general editors or publishers would have cheered the enormous page views and free promotion the controversial headline had prompted and not ever considered handing Johnson a pink slip.
An excerpt from the Chattanooga Times Free Press article which appeared under the job-ending headline reads:
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. Forgive us if you are not greeted with the same level of Southern hospitality that our area usually bestows on its distinguished guests. You see, we understand you are in town to share your umpteenth different job creation plan during your time in office. If it works as well as your other job creation programs, then thanks, but no thanks. We’d prefer you keep it to yourself. That’s because your jobs creation plans so far have included a ridiculous government spending spree and punitive tax increase on job creators that were passed, as well as a minimum wage increase that, thankfully, was not.”
During a telephone interview with The Blaze, Drew Johnson stated that he was entirely unaware of any headline approval policy at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. As a former newspaper gal, Johnson’s explanation of how the headline process typically unfolds at his office seems par for the course in both the print and online journalism realm.
The former opinion page editor had this to say after the anti-Obama headline was published:
“Their claim is that the headline was changed at the last minute, which it was and happens almost every day. A lot of times we’ll use filler headlines to hold it until we come up with something better and it has been very common to either change a headline myself or have a copy editor change a headline.”
The “Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough” headline ran at the same time as the current Oval Office holder was going to be visiting the Tennessee city. While the former opinion page editor did note that some Democrats were shocked that a journalist would dare to criticize President Obama and lambasted the headline and the article, Johnson also stated most of the phone calls he received in response to the piece were “overwhelmingly supportive.”
According to Drew Johnson, most of Chattanooga is conservative and the article represented the same mindset of the majority of the folks who routinely read his work. Instead of patting the editor on the back for his record-breaking story and the increased revenue it generated, Chattanooga Times Free Press brass opted instead for censorship.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press article also took exception with President Obama’s Smart Grid job creation initiative. An excerpt from the controversial article reads:
“The Gig to Nowhere is a Smart Grid, a high tech local electricity infrastructure intended to improve energy efficiency and reduce power outages. After lobbying for, and receiving, $111.6 million in stimulus money from your administration, EPB decided to build a souped-up version of the Smart Grid with fiber optics rather than more cost-effective wireless technology. In reality, though, the gig, like most of the projects funded by your stimulus plan, has been an absolute bust. You claimed that the Smart Grid would create jobs for Chattanooga. But in reality, all it did was push America deeper in debt and lure a local government agency into making a terrible financial decision that will weigh on Chattanoogans like a millstone for decades to come.”
Not only did the Smart Grid project prove to be yet another waste of taxpayer money, the project and others like it may make it easier for cyber hackers to gain access to the power grid, according to some tech experts. A cyber hacker sitting in China or in a car next to an electrical car charging station in NYC, could possibly access the power grid and do as much damage to the fragile infrastructure as a powerful solar flare.
The Tennessee opinion page editor is not the only conservative journalist to face potentially harsh penalties for speaking in opposition of liberal talking points. As previously reported by Off The Grid News, North Carolina columnist John Rosemond is being threatened with practicing psychology without a license charges by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office. The extremely popular syndicated columnist holds a license to practice psychology in North Carolina, but it is not recognized in all states where his no-nonsense and conservative-leaning parenting advice column appears. If the state attorney general successfully prosecutes John Rosemond, then all journalists who offer tips, advice, and instructions on a whole host of topics can find themselves inside a courtroom as well.
Although I loathe everything that Reverend Al Sharpton yells into the microphone, I still support his right to state his opinion – and turn the channel quickly. The suppression of free speech, whether it is at the hands of the government or newspaper publishers, infringes upon the First Amendment and diminishes the flow of information to the American public.
What do you think about the decision of the Chattanooga Times Free Press to fire Drew Johnson?