The Benicia Herald on Friday fired Editor Les Mahler following complaints by candidates in Tuesday’s City Council election who were critical of a column he wrote in which he quoted from a letter he had received.
Mahler said one of the candidates, Scott Strawbridge, also wanted him to exclude letters-to-the-editor from supporters of Strawbridge’s opponents. Strawbridge had spent $7,000 with the paper in advertising.
The firing triggered a demonstration in front of the paper’s offices Friday, according to the rival Vallejo Times Herald. Above are Norma Fox, left, Ruth Pierce, center, and Donnell Rubay, along with others. They held signs saying “Les is mo better,” and “We want Les truth, not bought truth.” Former Benicia council member Jan Cox-Golovich, who organized the protest, said Mahler’s free speech had been impinged upon and that he “should have editorial freedom.”
Benicia Herald staff declined to comment on the protest or on Mahler’s suspension. Last Sunday the Herald printed a retraction of Mahler’s column, saying that Mahler had violated company policy by quoting from an unpublished letter and attacking candidates’ positions. (Photo credit: Stacey J. Miller of the Vallejo Times-Herald)