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On the firing line : Two Casualties of Terror War?

Columnists for daily newspapers in Texas and Oregon were fired after writing opinion pieces critical of President Bush's handling of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Columnist Dan Guthrie, an employee of the Grants Pass, Ore., Daily Courier since 1991, and Tom Gutting, 23, city editor for the Texas City (Texas) Sun since June, were fired within days of writing columns that incited overwhelmingly negative reader response.

Publishers at both dailies would not say if the columns led directly to the firings, but they appear to have played central roles, especially at the Texas City Sun, where Gutting wrote, among other things, that Bush on Sept. 11 "was flying around the country like a scared child seeking refuge in his mother's bed after having a nightmare."

While Publisher Les Daughtry Jr. declined to discuss Gutting's firing, he did write a Page One apology in the 5,966- circulation, Galveston Newspapers Inc.-owned Sun, as well as an Op-Ed piece titled "Bush's leadership has been superb."

Although Gutting said he regrets not having the publisher or managing editor vet his column before it ran, he said it was not required, which Daughtry acknowledged in the apology.

In Grants Pass, Guthrie was let go after penning for the 16,987- circulation, family-owned Daily Courier an acerbic column, titled "When the going gets tough, the tender turn tail," that criticized a number of people, especially Bush.

Both Publisher Dennis Mack and Editor Dennis Roler denied that the column specifically led to Guthrie's ouster, though Roler --who read the column before it was printed and then wrote an opinion-page apology after it ran -- conceded it played a role: "We shouldn't go after somebody personally when talking about public policy."

Guthrie could not be reached by E&P.

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Title Annotation:columnists Dan Guthrie and Tom Gutting fired after writing articles critical of George W. Bush
Comment:On the firing line : Two Casualties of Terror War?(columnists Dan Guthrie and Tom Gutting fired after writing articles critical of George W. Bush)
Author:Davis, Joel
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2001
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