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Reply To Tom Gutting

Introduction:    On the day after the terrorists' attack on the United States Tom Gutting was terminated as City Editor for the Texas City Times.  Mr. Gutting claims he was fired because he "raise[d] some doubts about the quality of [President Bush's] leadership" in his column of September 11th.  In the following article, which was posted to the salon.com website approximate three weeks later, he comments on the incident and questions "the commitment of editors and publishers to the ideals of free speech."

"The Dangers of Silencing Disagreement"
"A Texas Journalist Speaks Out After Being Fired for Criticizing President Bush."

By Tom Gutting Oct. 1, 2001

"In his address to the nation Sept. 20, President Bush warned the country that recent terrorist attacks would force all Americans to make sacrifices.  I didn't realize how quickly my turn would come.

"Two days after the president's speech, I used my regular column for the Texas City Sun to raise some doubts about the quality of his leadership.   There was loud public outcry, and I was fired.  What has happened to me as an individual isn't important.  I'll be fine, though I am less na´ve about the commitment of editors and publishers to the ideals of free speech.  It is important, however, for Americans to reflect on the dangers of silencing disagreement.

"During the past three weeks, there has been a great deal of talk about what it means to be an American." Citizens and leaders in our country have stood united, waved flags and sung 'God Bless America.'

"Being American, however, means more than simple shows of patriotism.   The strength of our nation does not come from flying the flag, but rather from our unique set of ideals.  Especially in times of crisis, it is important for Americans to adhere to the principles that have made us the flag bearer of democracy to the world"

What Mr. Gutting neglects to mention is the nature of what he misleadingly refers to as "rais[ing] some doubts about the quality of [President Bush's] leadership".

Here's what he wrote in his column of September 11th:
"So last Tuesday, there was W. flying around the country like a scared child seeking refuge in his mother's bed after having a nightmare.  When Dick Cheney went on "Meet the Press" last week, it became abundantly clear W. hadn't done the one thing he promised - lead.  Cheney was making all the calls while Bush ran scared, thereby fulfilling the terrorists' wishes to make the most powerful man in the world fear them."

He proceeded to characterize President Bush's stopover at the military base on the way back to Washington as, ". . .hiding underground in Nebraska."

Nor did Mr. Gutting mention that one reason why the president was "flying around the country" was because Air Force One had received reports that the 4th hijacked plane appeared to be heading for Washington, DC (it crashed in Pennsylvania).  Since no one could be sure if there might be still other hijackings in progress, and if so, whether Air Force One might itself be a target of a suicide attempt, fighter escorts were scrambled and the decision to return to DC was properly postponed.