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
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
"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]
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.