By Jon Cassidy | Ohio Watchdog
A reporter for the Bellefontaine Examiner may be fired for calling conservatives bigots during an e-mail argument about a small-town mayor whose family is receiving food stamps.
Nate Smith, a staff writer for the paper, sent a sharply worded email last week to Nick Mascari, the main blogger at Third Base Politics, accusing him of throwing “a bunch of red meat at a group of judgmental, conservative bigots.”
Third Base Politics is the state’s leading Republican blog.
We checked with the paper’s management on whether that sort of gross generalization about conservatives was acceptable. General manager T.J. Hubbard wrote back to say that “the Examiner apologizes for the unprofessional and offensive personal remarks made by Mr. Smith. Disciplinary action against Mr. Smith, up to an including employment termination, is being considered at this time.”
The issue started when Adam Brannon, the 27-year-old mayor of Bellefontaine (pop. 13,322), announced on Facebook that his family was receiving food stamps. Brannon was criticizing Mitt Romney’s controversial remarks about the 47 percent of the population that doesn’t pay federal income taxes. In particular, he objected to Romney saying, “I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
“I’m part of the 47 percent,” Brannon wrote, before telling how his mother got all kinds of government help with housing, food, daycare, and schooling, and that now he needed help, too.
“I have taken personal responsibility for my life, we purchased a house, we pay our bills, but we do need a ‘hand-up’ at different points in our lives and for my family right now, this is one of them,” he wrote.
Mascari heard about the Food Stamp Mayor and thought it was “an absolutely perfect example of the entitlement culture that is taking over America and bankrupting our country.” He posted several links.
“Brannon claims poverty, but his situation is entirely of his own making,” Mascari wrote. “Both he and his wife have college degrees, but have purposefully decided to live on only $27,000 a year. Fine. That’s his business and his alone. Until he demands that the rest of us actual taxpayers actually feed the children he decided to have.”
Mascari’s take may have been harsh, but his facts were correct.
Brannon was elected mayor right after graduating from the University of Findlay, which offers “Brain-Based Learning,” according to its homepage.
Being mayor is a part-time job that pays $26,840, and it’s the only one he has. The “position is considered a part-time position, however the responsibilities and obligations that are asked of the mayor make it a full-time position,” Brannon told Ohio Watchdog. “I have had other jobs outside of the mayor’s office, first a part-time first-shift job that competed with the time that I was to be in the City building. Second, a full-time, third-shift job that made it impossible to attend evening meetings and events due to needing time to sleep. I did leave the position voluntarily because of the time constraints and the fact that my first son was being born around that time. That was May 2011, my wife and I did not apply for any assistance until February of this year.”
The thing is, Brannon ran for re-election last fall, after quitting his a job at AGC Automotive after just four months. Then he applied for the food stamps.
Mascari tipped off Smith at the local Bellefontaine Examiner, and got an earful rather than thanks.
Smith told Mascari that he should be writing about “subsidies to oil companies, tax loopholes that allow millionaires to be taxed less than you or me, etc.”
“Your work is small-minded and simplistic; hate on average Americans, a public servant no less, for utilizing a decades-old federal nutrition program for children, but ignore the kinds of top-down abuses that have contributed to cratering the economy and keeping middle class wages flat,” Smith wrote. “What a joke.”
Hubbard, the Examiner’s manager, said that Smith’s email was unauthorized.
“The Examiner, a fifth-generation family-owned business, has endeavored since 1891 to produce a politically independent, family-friendly daily product, and deeply regrets this unfortunate incident,” Hubbard said.
Smith did not reply to a request for comment.