Times Free Press Fires Editor Drew Johnson

Thursday, August 1, 2013
Drew Johnson
Drew Johnson

Chattanooga Times Free Press officials said Thursday that Free Press editor Drew Johnson has been fired "after placing a headline on an editorial outside of normal editing procedures."

The newspaper said, "Johnson’s headline, 'Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough,' appeared on the Free Press page Tuesday, the day President Barack Obama visited the city.

"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 Chattanooga Times Free Press is unique in that it has two editorial pages, the conservative Free Press page and the liberal Times page. This newspaper places high value on expressions of divergent opinion, but will not permit violations of its standards."

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."

He later added, "Getting fired for taking a stand is bad. Getting fired two weeks before your wedding is worse. Thanks for sticking by me."

He also wrote, "The policy I 'broke' did not exist when I 'broke' it. It was created after people complained about the headline & was applied retroactively. Any time the paper wanted to change the headline online (which is how most people read the editorial), they could've.

"We change headlines all the time at the last minute. I had a filler headline in that stunk and thought of that Johnny Paycheck song."

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. 


Chattanooga Police Looking For Missing Man, Paul Parr, 64

Chattanooga Police are searching for a missing man, Paul Parr, 64.   Mr. Parr was last seen walking in the woods at 5764 Highway 153 around  9:51 a.m.  on Tuesday. He was wearing a blue jacket, blue shirt with a tan collar and blue sweat pants.   Mr. Parr has green eyes, is  6'1", and weighs  290 pounds.   Anyone ... (click for more)

Corker Gives Statement On Senate Consideration Of Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act Of 2015

Senator Bob Corker said he welcomed upcoming Senate consideration of his bipartisan bill requiring congressional review of any comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced the legislation will be taken up on the Senate floor next week. Senator Corker indicated the Foreign Relations Committee could vote on the bill  next ... (click for more)

Tennessee Deserves Better Health Reform - And Response

Tennessee needs health care reform. Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," was not the best solution for Tennesseans. That is why the vast majority of Tennessee legislators never publicly supported the plan defeated in a special legislative session in February.   It is important to distinguish health care from health insurance. As one physician ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Insult To Israel

I am deeply saddened that over two dozen members of Congress – all Democrats – will be boycotting a speech by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, when he speaks in Washington tonight. I am also offended that the President of the United States will not receive Netanyahu prior to the speech – a customary gesture on such occasions – because he claims it is too close to ... (click for more)

Tre Tiller's 22 Leads Central To Region 3-AA Basketball Championship

There just must be something about playing basketball at Chattanooga State that makes the Central Purple Pounders click. Especially when the opponent is the Brainerd Panthers. Facing Brainerd for the fifth time this season and second at Chattanooga State on Monday night, the Purple Pounders defeated the Panthers for the third time. The latest conquest may have ... (click for more)

Hamilton Heights Invited To City Of Palms Classic

Hamilton Heights, which just completed a successful season at the NACA national tournament in Dayton, has already taken a big leap into more nationwide prominence by accepting an invitation to play in the prestigious City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla., next December 20-22. The Hawks, who went 28-5 this season with a highlight game at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, ... (click for more)