First let me say:
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Marc Smirnoff, the obsessive founder of Oxford American, wore out my patience years ago. As a result, I knew with a certainty that his firing by the magazine board would not go quietly, not given his tendencies, as exhibited previously over far smaller grievances with writers here and other publications.
As I reported yesterday, his latest salvo came in letters by him and fired colleague Carol Ann Fitzgerald to UCA President Tom Courtway. UCA houses Oxford’s offices, but Courtway has no direct supervisory role with the private organization.
The letters were intended to blame the firings on other people, including young interns. But they made, as lawyers would say, admissions against interest (see the link to yesterday’s item with quotes from Smirnoff’s letter) about the dismissed employees themselves. I believe they were written to UCA with the understanding that they’d be available under the FOI and disseminated, particularly the scandalous portions. The letters, by turns silly and too slanderous to publish, make the case, better than I could, for Smirnoff’s poor judgment.
Under Arkansas law, the board can fire Smirnoff and Fitzgerald for no reason at all, without due process, without regard to alibi or defense. Smirnoff can obsess on this and create media maelstroms for as long as someone will listen and report. It won’t help him (indeed, the letters should make him radioactive to cautious future employers), but it might damage the institution he nurtured and young people still there. That seems to be the point.
Smirnoff’s actions have drawn a response from Rick Massey, a lawyer who chairs the Oxford American board. It’s on the jump.
And, BTW, Courtway has referred Smirnoff’s allegation of misappropriation of UCA toilet paper (No, this is not a new edition of the National Lampoon’s high school yearbook parody, with Humphrey C. Cornholt as principal) to campus police.