By: E&P Staff
The firing of Jim DeFede at the Miami Herald was already a cause celebre, both in and outside the newspaper. But now a skirmish has broken out over who decided to bring down the hammer. In a memo to his staff, posted today at Jim Romenesko’s site at Poynter.org, Herald Editor Tom Fiedler denies charges that Knight Ridder CEO Tony Ridder made the decision.
That charge came from New Times Broward/Palm Beach, which wrote earlier this week that “Herald veterans say the leading theory in the newsroom is that Ridder was behind the firing and that Executive Editor Tom Fiedler — who has been humiliated both inside and outside his newsroom in the aftermath of the firing — simply carried out the ghastly order.”
Today in his memo, Fielder responds to the charge:
“Normally I would regard responding to a New Times’ article as being as dumb as standing between a dog and a hydrant.
But because a link to NT writer Bob Norman’s fantasy has been posted on Readme (and is also on Romensko), I feel compelled to respond to his conspiracy theory that Jim’s firing was the culmination of a two-plus-year-long vendetta plotted by Tony Ridder and carried out by me under his direct orders.
The far-less interesting fact is that, although Tony Ridder and others at KR were briefed that evening on all the events at The Herald — as would be appropriate — Tony Ridder was not just explicit in telling me and Jesus during a conference call that the decision was to be made ?by Miami,” he was emphatic. He arranged to set me up in a private office where I could be linked by phone and computer to The Herald’s system. Except for the initial briefing and discussion early in the evening, he had no further conversations that night with me or, to my knowledge, with Jesus. The decision by me, supported by Jesus, to dismiss Jim came three hours later.
Although this may be hard for those at New Times to believe, Tony Ridder is not only not fixated on Jim’s status, he has never appeared to me to have been bothered by anything Jim has written in the past, before or after he joined The Herald.
Norman’s grandiose notion that Tony Ridder ordered me to execute his long-festering plot to fire Jim — knowing full well that I was the guy who hired him in the first place — is nuts. But I hope you already knew that.