This past week, Commentary magazine blogger D.G. Myers suggested he was fired for his pro-gay marriage blog post, Media Bistro’s Fishbowl DC reported. Commentary identifies itself as “America’s premier monthly magazine of opinion and a pivotal voice in American intellectual life” and notes it “was founded in 1945 by the American Jewish Committee.”
In a Nov. 10 “Statement on my firing,” Myers blogged that shortly after he published a blog called “The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage,” Commentary‘s John Podhoretz emailed him “telling me that I had been terminated.”
After getting that email, Myers said that he unpublished the blog “almost immediately,” and questioned if he “was fired for the substance of what I wrote or for violating the magazine’s procedures.” According to Myers, Podhoretz’s email suggested at issue was the blog post, which Podhoretz “considered … to be political, and thus inappropriate for a literary blog” and for which Podhoretz “could not understand why I did not seek prior approval for it.”
Myers argued that his post wasn’t “political” but “to my mind, a literary and philosophical defense of gay marriage.” Myers also pointed to Podhoretz’s post on the firing and the Daily News‘ blog on the issue.
In a Nov. 10 “note,” Podhoretz wrote that he “would ordinarily not discuss such things; the relations of editors to writers are a private matter between them,” but that he was going to address the issue since Myers had blogged about it already. According to Podhoretz, Myers wasn’t fired, but his freelancer role was ended. Podhoretz wrote:
“He calls what happened to him a ‘firing,’ which it was not; he was not and never has been an employee of COMMENTARY; he was paid as a freelancer.)”
Myers’ author page on Commentary identified him as a “frequent contributor to Commentary,” a literary blogger and writer for Commentary, and an Ohio State University faculty member.
According to Podhoretz, Myers was to provide a “literary blog” for Commentary, explaining:
“I told David that he could write at will on his blog without editorial supervision, as long as he stayed within the confines of the literary. By contrast, this blog you are reading right now is heavily edited; posts typically go through two editors, and most topics are approved in advance and discussed communally before an item appears.”
Podhoretz indicated that he had been planning to cut Commentary‘s ties with Myers’ blog earlier for unidentified “problematic” issues in their “working relationship.” but hadn’t. Podhoretz also dismissed the suggestion that Myers’ relationship with Commentary was ended over topic of pro-same sex marriage, noting that Myers had previously been approved to post a Nov. 7 blog “GOP Can’t Be the Party of Old White Men” that included a paragraph arguing in part that “if the GOP really is the party of marriage, shouldn’t it be in favor of extending the goods of marriage to as many as possible?”
Podhoretz noted that the topic for the Nov. 8 blogpost hadn’t been approved beforehand.
“Please note that I was not opposed to him writing in defense of gay marriage on COMMENTARY’s website. He had just done so a day earlier—and this blog has a readership many, many orders larger than the readership of Literary Commentary.
“What I did not like, and what I could not accept, was that David had decided unilaterally to convert Literary Commentary into a sociopolitical blog without a moment’s consultation. This I considered an uncollegial and insubordinate act,and I’m afraid it was not the first of these. I would not have allowed him to do so had he asked; I might have considered publishing the item on this blog, though to tell you the truth, I found his take goopy and overheated.”
Podhoretz re-iterated that “the issue was not the content,” adding
“This overstepping—coupled with other, more bureaucratic matters I’ve alluded to here—was not the cause of the parting of the ways between D.G. Myers and COMMENTARY. It was more like the last straw. And I would have done the same if he’d put up a post on tax policy, or China, or Dick Morris’s prognostications.”
Further, he noted that Commentary isn’t “institutionally hostile to gay marriage,” and that he himself once was “an opponent of gay marriage” but isn’t anymore.
According to Podhoretz, Myers both published and unpublished the gay marriage blogpost “unilaterally.” In an “update,” Podhoretz wrote that he shut down the comments section “for legal reasons.” The comments section now reads that “Commenting on this page has been disable by the blog admin.”
iMediaEthics has written to Commentary asking why Myers had the exception to post directly to the website, how many Commentary writers had that exception, if posts with that exception are reviewed post-publication, how he would characterize what happened between Commentary and Myers if he wasn’t “fired,” and what issues came up in the comments section to prompt closing it.
Myers wrote in his statement that he has “nothing further to say about it publicly,” but we sent an email to him as well seeking comment. We’ll update with any response.
iMediaEthics wrote earlier this year when Commentary‘s Podhoretz told Tablet it “ended its relationship” with Italian journalist Guilio Meotti after he was accused of plagiarizing.
Hat Tip: Gawker