Suspended Black Conservative Columnist Speaks Out About Why She Quit St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"It's Never Been a Secret That I Support the Second Amendment and the National Rifle Association"
St. Louis, MO / Washington, D.C. - Project 21 Co-Chairman Stacy Washington, a black conservative, was recently suspended by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after writing a column defending gun ownership. She is now speaking out and available for interviews about the allegations made against her by the newspaper's management and her decision to end writing for the Post-Dispatch altogether.
Washington was recently selected to help guide Project 21, a leadership network promoting the diversity of political opinion within the black community in America, as one of its co-chairmen.
A freelance contributor who began writing a column for the Post-Dispatch last November, Washington was suspended by the newspaper on April 28 after writing a column on guns that her editor complained did not mention her past affiliation with the National Rifle Association (NRA). While she has worked with the NRA on media programs and projects in the past, she says she was never paid for her services and the opinions in the column were her own.
Washington's support of gun ownership has never been a secret. In her first column for the newspaper, she wrote: "With my father on active [military] duty, guns were always a part of life, so I considered the Second Amendment second in importance only to the religious protections afforded to us in the Constitution." Before becoming a columnist, the Post-Dispatch reported on her work with the NRA. She also said the column in question - "Guns and the Media" - was reviewed by the newspaper's staff before publication. That column criticized other Missouri newspapers that recently featured commentaries speculating that gun owners favored guns over child safety and asked readers to compare the NRA to the ISIS terrorism network. In her column, she wrote: "Gun ownership in America is a right that is enshrined in the Constitution, and owning a gun has no bearing on whether people love their children."
Commenting on leaving the Post-Dispatch, Washington said:
It's never been a secret that I support the Second Amendment and the National Rifle Association. To effectively be suspended by a newspaper for that seems beyond comprehension. But that's what I believe happened to me.
Last week, my final column for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch - "Guns and the Media" - discussed two anti-gun opinion columns in other Missouri papers. I think these commentaries were allowed to falsely accuse gun owners of prioritizing guns over child safety and tried to make the NRA and ISIS morally equivalent. I suggested such radical allegations were allowed to be published without challenge due to an editorial bias against guns.
Like all of my columns published by the newspaper, it was submitted, accepted, edited and approved by the staff of the Post-Dispatch. As a freelance writer, I was unable to post my work directly to their website. So I was obviously surprised when I was notified of a suspension that readers were told was due to my " active promotional activities and professional association with the National Rifle Association, [which] represented an unacceptable conflict of interest."
I am not, nor have I ever been, an employee of the NRA. I was not compensated for my participation in an NRA documentary that was released last year nor was I paid for any appearances on NRA-affiliated media over the years. Some of this work was even previously reported on by the Post-Dispatch. There was never any attempt at deception.
After much consideration, I have decided to terminate my relationship with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. When I began writing for the paper, it was with the belief that I would be able to present my opinions from a conservative perspective without interference. This has not been the case, and it makes any future relationship with the newspaper untenable.
I stand by what I wrote, and it represents me and no other person or organization. I believe that, even in a commentary, it is irresponsible and proves an inherent bias when newspapers permit the comparison of NRA members to Islamic State terrorists and imply that gun-owning Americans cherish their firearms more than the safety of their children.
To book an interview with Stacy Washington, contact Judy Kent at (703) 759-7476.
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