Don Surber, a now-former columnist for Charleston, WV newspaper the Daily Mail, took the country by storm when he posted a now-deleted entry on his personal blog calling Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager gunned down by Ferguson, Missouri officer Darren Wilson, an “animal.”
“This summer I had an epiphany as I watched packs of racists riot in Ferguson, Missouri, in support of a gigantic thug who was higher than a kite when he attacked Ferguson Police Department Officer Darren Wilson, who unfortunately had to put this animal down,” Surber wrote. “My realization was I don’t care about police brutality anymore. I don’t care about the militarization of the cops, either. Give them what they need to keep society safe from the hundred thousand or so thugs who want to rape, murder and maim decent people. Most of the victims are non-white. And poor. And male. And young.”
After facing public backlash, Surber added an “update” to “correct” some information. “UPDATE: I made a factual error. Michael Brown was not an animal but a man. Big. Brutal. High. His death was a justifiable homicide and not a putting down,” he added.
Surber’s racist diatribe did not sit well with his employer, though the paper did not much mind previous (and unnoticed) racist rants under their banner.
AATTP asked Daily Mail editor Brad McElhinny what difference there is between previous entries under their banner and the one that led to Surber’s termination. McElhinny said that it is important to talk about race in America, but the recent entry on Surber’s personal blog was too “bluntly stated.” We pointed out that his prior railings, under the paper’s banner, against the Voting Rights Act, Affirmative Action, and the declining white majority in America were just as offensive as the post that led to Surber’s termination, but he did not have a concrete answer as to why Surber was not terminated previously. However, McElhinny admitted the negative attention was a large part of it.
Mcelhinny told Talking Points Memo that Surber is no longer employed with the paper.
“It’s the kind of conservative that believes in the power of the individual. That is, each individual has the possibility to flourish, succeed and prosper,” McElhinny wrote. “That’s why it was so disheartening to see the careless words of one of our own editorial writers describing a young man whose life ended tragically too soon.”
“He selected words that were unfortunate, inflammatory and, in our view, inexcusable,” McElhinny wrote. “It’s his own blog, but still, he’s known as a Daily Mail editorial columnist and many readers seemed to perceive the views stated to reflect on the Daily Mail’s editorial policy.”
McElhinny was unclear if Surber was asked to leave, or if he was terminated. “As of this week, Mr. Surber is no longer employed by the Daily Mail,” McElhinny wrote. “We thank him for his service and we wish Mr. Surber good luck.”