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LA Times Readers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 14, 2005
1:17 PM

CONTACT: LA Times Readers
Marcy Winograd, 310. 795-2322
Karen Pomer, 310.463.7025

 
LA Times Readers/Subscribers to Picket Outside Times Building To Protest Controversial Firing of Popular Columnist Robert Scheer
"I've been a punching bag for Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh for years and I think the paper finally collapsed" -- Robert Scheer, Friday, Nov. 11th
 

LOS ANGELES - November 14 -

WHAT:
Readers to Picket LA Times to Protest Firing of Columnist Robert Scheer and Limited Coverage of Local Anti-War Movement

WHO:
LA Times Readers and Grassroots Peace Activists from Across Los Angeles

WHEN:
Tuesday, Nov. 15, Noon

WHERE:
Outside LA Times Building First Street Entrance 202 W. 1st St. (at Spring St.) Los Angeles, CA 90012

After a week of Internet rumors, it was officially announced on Friday, Nov. 11 that LA Times publisher Jeff Johnson fired Robert Scheer, who had worked at Times for 30 years, the last 12 as a weekly columnist on the op-ed page. Scheer had a substantial following, and very often his columns would be on top of the paper's list of most e-mailed stories.

An announcement of the protest to grassroots activists reads in part:

''Robert Scheer's anti-war voice is critical. Los Angeles Times readers will not tolerate the Paper's op-ed page tilting further to the right with the firing of Scheer and the inclusion of far-right columnists Max Boot and Jonah Goldberg with no one holding Scheer's spot as a passionate and contrarian national progressive voice.''

A delegation of protesters will request a meeting with publisher Jeff Johnson, who reportedly has privately told people that he hated every word that Scheer wrote.

''We want to read a full-spectrum of voices on the LA Times op-ed page and know that our daily newspaper will fully cover the anti-war movement in Los Angeles,'' said Marcy Winograd, one of the organizers of the protest. "For many of us who have subscribed to the Times for decades, this is a sad and ominous moment."

As soon as word got out that Scheer had been fired, readers launched an e-mail campaign of letters of protest to LA Times editor Dean Baquet and publisher Jeff Johnson. Many subscribers have canceled their subscriptions in protest of the firing.

Outside the Times Building on Tuesday, protesters will distribute slices of Wonderbread to signify the blanding of the paper. One of the activists will perform a guerrilla theater skit, portraying Jeff Johnson as a willing tool of a corporate billionaire.

Over the past several months, the Times has provided very little coverage of significant anti-war events in Los Angeles, such as an Inglewood teach-in on the Downing Street memo, a protest of Hilary Clinton's pro-war stance at her Hollywood fundraiser and the largest gathering to date of Southern California Gold Star Families who have lost relatives in Iraq. .

Signs will have such slogans as:

LA Times Publisher: Did you hate every word Scheer wrote exposing lies that led us into the War in Iraq?

LA Times Publisher: Did you hate every word Scheer wrote exposing the lies about Wen Ho Lee?

LA Times Publisher: Did you hate every word Scheer wrote exposing the lies of the NY Times' Judith Miller?

Robert Scheer is scheduled to appear on the national radio and TV news show Democracy Now! on Monday Nov. 14. KPFK 90.7 FM at 6AM and 9AM, DirecTV: Link TV, Channel 375, DISH Network: Link TV channel 9410 and Free Speech TV, channel 9415.

Robert Scheer's Nov. 11 statement::

"On Friday, I was fired as a columnist by the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, where I have worked for thirty years. The publisher Jeff Johnson, who has offered not a word of explanation to me, has privately told people that he hated every word that I wrote. I assume that mostly refers to my exposing the lies used by President Bush to justify the invasion of Iraq. Fortunately sixty percent of Americans now get the point but only after tens of thousand of Americans and Iraqis have been killed and maimed as the carnage spirals out of control. My only regret is that my pen was not sharper and my words tougher."

LA Times article on the changes to op-ed pages.

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