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Editor Quits After Gun Owners Threaten His Life (and Publisher Caves) | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

Editor Quits After Gun Owners Threaten His Life (and Publisher Caves)

One day after the disgraceful actions of the publisher of a small newspaper in rural Murphy, North Carolina, the Cherokee Scout, wrote one of the most embarrassing “note to readers” ever in genuflecting to local gun owners, the editor of the paper has resigned.

The publisher, David Brown, just last week had apologized to readers and sought their forgiveness—even though some of them had apparently threatened his life and the life of the editor who dared put in a public records request to the local sheriff. The note even told everyone how wonderful they all were, and even apologized to the sheriff.

As publisher of your local newspaper, I want to apologize to everyone we unintentionally upset with our public records request for a list of those who have or have applied for a concealed carry permit. We had no idea the reaction it would cause.

Jim Romenesko, the longtime media blogger, covered it (about a week after it appeared) under the headline: “Most Incredible Newspaper Apology Ever.” He have said “Most Embarrassing” or “Most Craven” or what not.

The editor, Robert Horne, 43, had not even planned to publish the names of the local gun permit holders in Muprhy County that he had requested—as happened with the recent controversy surrounding my own local paper, The Journal News, in New York—but simply to tally their numbers. The Journal News eventually scrubbed its site of the names but the Cherokee never intended to even post them.

Now the other shoe has dropped—and the editor has been forced (we presume) to resign—though Horne tells Jim Romenesko that he chose to go (and is even moving out of the state, no wonder). You can catch up with the whole hideous story here.  

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Brown had originally stuck to his guns, so to speak, after the sheriff rebuffed his initial attempt to get the records. The dispute went public when the sheriff posted notes about it on his Facebook page. Brown then hit the threats from “near-hysterical residents as a result of the sheriff’s actions.” But then he caved, and now Horne, who had worked at the paper for seven years, is gone.

A related newspaper/sheriff story here:  "Now an Asheville city councilman, Bothwell says intimidation and threats were common during his reporting on the sheriff. Vans with dark windows would park outside the houses of newspaper staffers at night.  Two deputies had told Bothwell off the record the sheriff said he was going to “take care” of him. He took to wearing somewhat of a disguise when reporting in the field, and borrowing a friend’s car."

 

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