The St. Louis Post-Dispatch suspended an opinion column by Stacy Washington, a black conservative commentator, after she blasted an op-ed in another newspaper that compared the National Rifle Association to the Islamic State.
The Post-Dispatch didn't mention Washington's opinion as a reason for suspending her column, but it did contend that her "active promotional activities and professional association with the National Rifle Association represented an unacceptable conflict of interest in her most recent column, which resulted in our suspension of her work." After the suspension, "Washington chose to terminate her contract" with the paper, the Post-Dispatch said.
In Washington's April 28 column — "Guns and the media" — she targeted an op-ed in the Columbia Missourian by George Kennedy, a professor emeritus of the Missouri School of Journalism. His big question was, "Which organization is more dangerous to Americans — ISIS or the NRA?"
Kennedy argued that 15,000 Americans were killed by guns in 2016 and that each year since 9/11 an average of 11,737 Americans were killed by other Americans — but that each year since 9/11 an average of nine Americans were killed by Islamic jihadist terrorists.
In rebuttal, Washington offered a different kind of comparison between ISIS and the NRA: "[W]hen has a member of the NRA ever decapitated, set on fire, tossed from a rooftop or otherwise terrorized another American? The linkage is not only rife with improper context; it is false on its face. Yet the Missourian saw fit to publish it without question, I believe, because it suits the ideological bent of the opinion editor."
More from Washington's column:
This failure to represent the opposing, especially conservative, view is an increasingly apparent deficit in the news reporting apparatus in our country. Republicans seek other news outlets that don’t demonize them or compare them to terrorists, simply because they own a gun or support an organization founded to give blacks the right to own guns and use them to defend themselves. The NRA stood in opposition to the Ku Klux Klan. This clarifying historical detail on the founding of the NRA rarely makes it into news media characterizations of the organization.
It’s understandable that we seek out opinions and news that support our viewpoint. Confirmation bias is a very real part of how people consume news and media. However, we should be appalled to see neighbors with whom we work, attend church, people who have children defending this country through military service — in other words, good decent people — portrayed in the same light as demonic murderers for the simple act of owning a firearm.
Here's the Post-Dispatch's statement on its suspension of Washington's column:
Stacy Washington's column will no longer appear in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Her active promotional activities and professional association with the National Rifle Association represented an unacceptable conflict of interest in her most recent column, which resulted in our suspension of her work. Ms. Washington chose to terminate her contract. Columnists are expected to fully disclose conflicts of interest when writing about topics where such a conflict might arise. We apply this standard regardless of the lobbying or advocacy group being written about in a column.
Most commenters weren't pleased with the paper's suspension of Washington's column — which she said occurred Friday — nor with its reason for doing so.
"Stacy has been a public figure for years. You didn't know her affiliations? You call yourselves a news paper? ... Another good example of why I cancelled my subscription," Cathy Taylor McAfee wrote.
"This action by the Post Dispatch is just as bad or worse than the confrontations taking place at Berkeley," James Hessler said. "Shut down conservative speech by any means necessary, even by thinly veiled attempts of explanations that do not ring true. HYPOCRITES."
Linda Purk wrote, "This is exactly why most people don't trust the media anymore. The left is always complaining about the free press being under attack...what about free speech? The tolerant left again...lol."
Barbara J. T. Easom asked, "So what if she has ties with them? She's sharing her opinion, which was well-argued. Have another writer share an opposing view if you don't like it, but this just looks like you don't agree with the NRA so had her fired."
"What a cowardly way to deal with a truth you do not like," Aebe Mac Gill offered.
Washington chimed in on the dustup with some pointed tweets:
My column on the @NRA being nothing like ISIS got me suspended from @stltoday.... #SOTR https://t.co/bg8ZvAAswJ— Stacy Washington (@Stacy Washington)1493607171.0
After the Post-Dispatch published a letter to the editor calling Washington a "shill" for the NRA, she shot back with a tweet saying she informed the paper's editorial editor that she's not paid by the group.
And clearly her sense of humor hasn't been squashed:
Discovered the remuneration Post Dispatch accused me of getting from @nra #paidshill #itsonlyathumbdrive @stltoday… https://t.co/6ygY4RtsI8— Stacy Washington (@Stacy Washington)1493778686.0
Washington also had this to say about the Post-Dispatch:
I'm not ashamed to support the NRA. The fact that @stltoday thinks I am shows how skewed their view of conservatives is.— Stacy Washington (@Stacy Washington)1493673340.0
(H/T: BizPac Review)