On Tuesday, Nov. 22, I was fired from my job reporting for the Albuquerque Journal newspaper, for sending the following letter to spokespeople for Sens. Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman, and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, congressmen representing my state and home district:
Hello. Hope you’re well. This message is for an article or a series of
articles I plan on writing for the paper sometime in the near future.
Please read all the way through.
I have never been so engaged in politics as I am now. This is bad news
for me, because the stories either lay bare how genuinely stupid
politics can be, or how corrupt (income inequality, unemployment,
taxation). Depressing stuff. It’s all bad news. All. Bad. News.
In spite of all this bad news (or probably because of it, if I’m
honest) I can’t stop following what’s going on with our suit-wearing
representatives in Washington D.C.
You are the spokesperson for a member of Congress. That member of
Congress is paid six figures to represent the people, to solve the
problems of constituents on a day-to-day basis. As a spokesperson
whose job exists so that we in the media may tell the public what is
happening at the highest levels, I challenge you to prove me wrong
when I say politics is dominated by the lazy and corrupt. Prove to me
that your boss is working for the people in his district, and not his
But do so with awesomeness, in a way that grabs me and then my
readers. I’ve seen your press releases, and they’ve got no zing. No
pizzazz. I don’t think legislation crafting and meetings are what this
country needs right now. America needs action! So what was your guy up
to yesterday or today to make things better for the middle-class in
I realize individual Congressmen aren’t deciding whether to arm the
Libyan rebels (did you read the article in Rolling Stone about Obama’s
decision on that? It was crazy), but there’s cool stuff going on with
Congress, right? Did you ever watch The West Wing?
Tell me about politics working, not making things worse.
Don’t ignore this email. This is a challenge. A duel. You’re a
congressional flack and I’m a newspaper reporter, so let’s dance. Give
me some good, interesting news that out-awesomes the depressing crap
we get coming out of D.C. on a daily basis. We have been slovenly in
our professions, we flacks and reporters. Society is suffering for it.
Congress’s approval rating is nine percent. As a congressional
spokesperson, that’s on you too.
This really is going to be an article, or at least a column, but feel
free to take a few days to respond. And I don’t want to talk about it
face to face, or over the phone. Only by e-mail. En guarde!
None of the flacks ever replied. One of them sent it to the Jounal’s reporter in D.C., and it moved up the hierarchy until the Editor-in-Chief decided it was grounds for my firing, three days after I first sent it out.
I’m super angry about this. I’ll probably stay super angry about this for the rest of my life. BUT… I’m not going anywhere. I’m still in Santa Fe, reporting and writing and watching movies and drawing Muhammad Ali fighting a dragon. Life is pretty sweet here most days. My brain feels lighter since the firing. I’ve lost a job before and bounced back. I’ll bounce back again.