Friday, May 30, 2008

ACLU goes after company that fired Barry Nolan

We don't think former tabloid television host Barry Nolan should have been fired for his campaign against a Boston Emmy honor for Bill O'Reilly-- even if he did veer off from his mission to attack us, our readers and our editor (we were happy to spar with Barry online, but we changed our tune when he got the axe). And neither does the American Civil Liberties Union, whose Boston chapter is going on the attack against Comcast, the cable company that fired Barry from his gig hosting a cable TV show.

Here's the article from the Boston Herald:

ACLU hits Comcast on Barry Nolan axing

Says cable company’s move suggests it neither
values nor understands independent journalism

By Jessica Heslam

Calling the firing “disturbing,” the local American Civil Liberties Union is blasting Comcast for canning TV host Barry Nolan over his Bill O’Reilly protest.

Nolan, a host on Comcast’s CN8 for five years, was axed last week for speaking out against the local Emmy Awards for giving the Fox News host the Governor’s Award – its highest honor.

In a statement sent to MediaBiz yesterday, the ACLU said Comcast has hurt its reputation. O’Reilly has declined comment.

“Comcast’s decision to terminate Mr. Nolan is most unfortunate, as it suggests that independent journalism is not valued or perhaps even understood at Comcast,” wrote Jim Wolken, senior director of communications for the ACLU of Massachusetts.

“Bill O’Reilly’s struggles with fact-based journalism have been well documented by numerous independent sources, making Mr. Nolan’s firing all the more disturbing,” wrote Wolken, who didn’t cite the sources. “Barry Nolan’s value to the public is that his credentials as a reporter cannot be bought or intimidated. By firing him, Comcast injures its own reputation as a reliable source for news.”

Wolken added: “Barry Nolan has been a respected journalist in the Commonwealth with a well-earned reputation for fair and intelligent reporting on a wide range of complex issues.”

During the May 10 awards, Nolan passed out fliers with quotes from O’Reilly and the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him.

Before firing Nolan, Comcast suspended him for two weeks without pay.

Nolan has since written a piece defending his O’Reilly protest that was posted this week on ThinkProgress.org, which the Huffington Post (
editor's note: and Tabloid Baby) picked up.

As for the ACLU’s support, Nolan said: “I was very touched by that.”

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