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February 09, 2005

Dawn Eden's Side of the Story

Friend and fellow blogger Dawn Eden got fired by the "conservative" NY Post for trying to balance an article by adding some minor pro-life sentiments to a piece she felt dealt cavalierly with disposable embryos... and possibly just for having a "faith-friendly" blog.

It turns out that firing her wasn't enough; some bitch at the Post had to go leak to Women's Wear Daily and attempt to further damage her career. Pretty vindictive.

Well, Dawn finally gets her say in today's New York Observer:

The Post hired her full time in 2003. She loved editing and writing punning headlines. But she landed in hot water after giving an interview to Gilbert, a G.K Chesterton magazine, in which she talked about her faith and working at the Post.

She said her boss, chief copy editor Barry Gross, chided her, telling her, "Some people already think the Post is conservative, and we don’t need New York readers also thinking it’s a Christian paper and that there are Christians working there."

"I don’t recall saying that," said Mr. Gross. "But I can’t swear that I didn’t. I mean, there’s no question people think we’re conservative." He added that he did caution her to cool it a bit in the future.

There was another chat with Mr. Gross after Ms. Eden resisted working on an article about a murdered porn star. She’d made it clear that she was disgusted with the cheerful, lurid commentary.

But Mr. Gross wasn’t around on Jan. 8 this year, when Ms. Eden was given a story by Post reporter Susan Edelman to copy-edit. The story was about women with terminal cancer who want to have babies: Through in-vitro fertilization, multiple embryos are fertilized and implanted one at a time until as many as 12 survive.

According to Ms. Eden, she was repelled by what she interpreted as a "cavalier" attitude about the embryos in Ms. Edelman’s story: "Treating them as a manufactured commodity that don’t have significance as human life," Ms. Eden said. (Ms. Edelman declined to comment when reached by The Observer.)

"I got choked up," Ms. Eden said. "How are people going to ever understand the complex issues involved here, if the story they’re reading reduces it to ‘Oh, isn’t this nice? We can just make lots of embryos and not worry about whether they live or die.’"

Ms. Eden read a line in the draft of the story: "Experts have ethical qualms about this ‘Russian roulette’ path to parenthood." She saw her opportunity: She added a phrase: " … which, when in-vitro fertilization is involved, routinely results in the destruction of embryos." And where Ms. Edelman had written that one woman had three embryos implanted "and two took," Ms. Eden changed that to read: "One died. Two took."

Ms. Eden said she thought she was performing a service for the reader, since she believed that the Post had been "notoriously oblivious" to the nuances involving embryonic life.

"In retrospect, my first loyalty should have been to my employer," she said.

The article, with Ms. Eden’s alterations, came out on Jan. 16. Post editors were furious. Mr. Gross told her to apologize to the writer, Ms. Edelman, which Ms. Eden promptly did, calling her own actions "unwarranted and wrong."

Ms. Edelman replied with an e-mail under the subject heading "SABOTAGE":

"Dawn You are the most unprofessional journalist I have ever encountered in all my years in this business. A disgrace. Sue Edelman."

Things soon got worse, as editors at the Post discovered her Dawn Patrol blog.

She waited. Mr. Gross came over to tell her she couldn’t blog on company time anymore.

Mr. Allan called her into his office and fired her.

"Probably the second most surprised person in the office the day she was fired, after Dawn, was me," said Mr. Gross. "I’m still not pleased about it, but the call wasn’t mine."

Keep it in mind the next time you're tempted to buy the N.Y. Post.

I guess this should also be kept in mind by Churchill's defenders, who insist on a fairly absolute right to free speech. Again, this strong-form version of the right to free speech -- without professional consequences -- would seem to only apply to those pigs who have learned to walk on two feet.

More... Dawn Eden corrects a few of the Observer's mistatements on her blog, which apparently was so dangerous it threatened the very continued operations of the NY Post.

And Still More... Alarming News weighs in, noting that whatever "slant" Dawn added was just the opposite of the slant the reporterette in question had put there herself.

Did the reporterette have that right? I suppose so. Still-- there is the legal principle of "clean hands" to consider.


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posted by Ace at 03:42 PM

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