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Posted by on Sep 29, 2009 in Breaking News, Economy, Media, Politics | 6 comments

CQ-Roll Call Fires Editor for Questioning Layoffs

Last week, 44 employees of the company that publishes Congressional Quarterly and Roll Call were given pink slips. Today, the newsroom editor, Brian Nutting, was fired for an email he sent to top management demanding to know the reason for the layoffs. Or, to be more precise, he was fired for refusing to apologize for sending the email. Nutting worked at CQ-Roll Call for 27 years, and was very highly regarded by his co-workers.

Now, Fishbowl DC reports, “morale is in the dumpster.”

Last week, in the midst of the CQ-Roll Call layoffs, FishbowlDC posted a “We need answers” email response from CQ editor Brian Nutting. The email demanded answers and clarification from upper management regarding the layoffs and falsities surrounding the Economist‘s acquisition of CQ.

Many outraged sources now tell FishbowlDC that the hero-editor has been let go over his stance and determination to defend his employees’ jobs.

One source tells FishbowlDC:

He is a 27-year veteran of CQ. He fostered many careers at CQ and many are crying this morning in the newsroom. He was fired for “not showing remorse” after sending the email. Before the layoffs he offered to be laidoff himself if it would save his two reporters who were cut. Management said no because they couldn’t afford this severance.

Sounds like management ought to start ordering Prozac in bulk because morale is in the dumpster…

In a separate Politico post, Nutting tells Michael Calderone that the reason for the layoffs was, essentially, greed:

Brian Nutting, who was fired after 27 years with Congressional Quarterly, says that the reason given by management Tuesday morning was “insubordination.”
[…]
“The key question that I wanted answered was for somebody in a position of authority, from someone who made the decision that there needed to be layoffs, to tell us why there needed to be layoffs,” Nutting told POLITICO.

Nutting said he spoke with CQ-Roll Call editorial director Mike Mills on Thursday and Monday evening about the email, but refused to apologize. Today, in a meeting with Mills, Nutting was fired.

“We now know the real reason was money,” Nutting said, of the 44 layoffs. “Nobody has yet acknowledged that. Why do they need to make more money?”

Indeed, CQ was a profitable company under previous ownership. So Nutting believes the motive behind last week’s layoffs has to do with trying to increase the now-merged company’s profit margin.

“A number of people who were laid off last week,” Nutting said, “could not possibly be redundant.”

Outrage is the appropriate response to all this, I think — but at the same time we can also feel inspired by one man’s personal integrity, courage, and selflessness:

Despite 27 years on the job, Nutting will not get severance. And unlike staffers laid off Thursday, Nutting did not sign a non-disparage agreement. “I guess I was given one last chance to say I was sorry, that I’d done something impulsive, and I apologize,” he said.

But Nutting didn’t apologize and potentially keep his job or walk away with decades worth of severance.

“I didn’t feel like I could turn my back on the people I worked with,” he said.