A Michigan newspaper columnist who was fired Tuesday claims his dismissal was punishment for a column he wrote on Saturday criticizing American cars.
James Briggs, a former columnist and news editor at The Daily Telegram of Adrian, Mich., says the publisher canned him for writing the column that upset auto dealers and others so close to Detroit’s auto manufacturing power houses. The publisher told E&P that auto advertisers did complain, but says there’s more to it than that.
“I was in a meeting with my boss [editor Mark Lenz] and the publisher came in and berated me for half an hour,” Brigg said, describing the Tuesday morning meeting at the afternoon paper. “He said I needed to understand the consequences of what I wrote.”
What he wrote was a column in Saturday’s paper that described his decision to switch from driving an American car to a foreign model. “Maybe I’m hitting a late rebellious streak. Maybe I’m simply unpatriotic, ungrateful or un-American,” the column said, in part. “Or maybe the domestic automakers have slipped so far down that purchasing an American vehicle has become moronic. I’ll go with that answer.”
Briggs, 24, said he received no feedback from the newspaper until Tuesday morning when Publisher Paul Heidbreder approached him during his meeting with Lenz. “He said it was insensitive for me to write such a column given our proximity to the Big Three [automakers],” Briggs said. “He tried to get me to at least apologize and I was not going to apologize because I believe what I wrote.”