Fired editor: Termination was unfair

February 9, 2015

Death and Taxes

Victor Paul Alvarez, the former associate editor who was fired in January for writing a controversial article about House Speaker John Boehner, publicly addressed the circumstances surrounding his exit Monday.

In a post published on SpinMedia site Death and Taxes, Alvarez says that two other editors at understood the gist of the story and did nothing to prevent him from publishing it:

Termination was not a fair or balanced response. Colleagues have been suspended for far worse transgressions. The widely-reported assertion that I acted on my own, that I was a rogue editor who secretly placed an irresponsible story on the site’s front page, is bullshit. A fellow editor saw the headline, heard me writing the piece. No protest. Another editor who placed the story on the page didn’t balk. In fact, he went out of his way to tell me how well the story was doing on the site. I sent a link to the piece to my immediate superior about an hour after it went live. The same superior who told us we needed to put “top-spin” on all of our stories.

The post, which implied Boehner was a drunk, drew a rebuke from Boehner spokesperson Michael Steel and was reported widely by regional and national outlets.

Through a spokesperson, general manager Corey Gottlieb delivered the following response to Alvarez’ post: “We’ve moved on. We wish Victor well.”

In an earlier interview, Gottlieb told Poynter Alvarez did not present the story for a final edit before publishing it. Later in the interview, he reiterated that Alvarez was the only staffer to see the post before it went live.

In the wake of the Boehner story, management adjusted the site’s editorial approach slightly, putting more emphasis on copyediting and reminding staffers to slow down when necessary.