By Jeff Poor, Daily Caller
On Thursday, the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Free Press announced the termination of one of its editors for what was deemed to be an inappropriate headline criticizing President Barack Obama on the day of a visit to Chattanooga to promote his economic policies.
Later that day, Johnson gave an interview to The Daily Caller in order explain his termination, claiming it was unmerited on the grounds that it was for a policy that had not yet been put in place. He explained the circumstances of inserting the headline at the minute prior to publication.
“It’s very common practice at our paper and I’m sure it is at a lot of papers to just plug in a space-holder headline or you know, you have a headline you’re not happy with and you change it at the last minute. And I probably did it myself once a week. In this case, I put in a placeholder that wasn’t good. It got time to publish the piece and I thought, ‘What goes with jobs plan?’ and I thought the Johnny Paycheck song, ‘Take this job and shove it.’ So I put that in there — put the title that you saw and the next day, while it was becoming literally the most read, not just editorial but [most read] thing ever on the paper’s website.”
Johnson explained that later that day he got called into his editor’s office and they conveyed their displeasure with the headline. And they informed him that going forward changes to headlines would have to be approved by another editor so that this would not happen again in the future.
And despite the alleged offensive nature of the editorial, Johnson pointed out the Free Press kept the editorial up online in its entirety without any adjustments.
“Keep in mind the entire time since they told me that people were offended by the editorial, they had the editorial online and it’s been read by — it’s got hundreds of thousands of clicks and they’ve made money and they’ve made plenty of money on online advertising,” he added. “And it wasn’t offensive enough for them to pull down and stop getting all the traffic.”