Columnist who called Michael Brown an "animal" parts ways with West Virginia newspaper

Days after posting a racist rant to his personal blog, Don Surber is out at the Charleston Daily Mail

By Luke Brinker
October 30, 2014 9:40PM (UTC)
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An image of Michael Brown is seen on a tie worn by his father, at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri, August 25, 2014. (Reuters/Adrees Latif)

An opinion columnist who called Michael Brown an "animal" no longer works for the Charleston Daily Mail.

On Saturday, columnist Don Surber published a post on his personal blog in which he wrote that the unarmed black teen needed to be "put ... down" by Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Brown on Aug.t 9.


"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 in his blog post, which Talking Points Memo highlighted. The following day, Surber posted an update reading, "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."

Charleston Daily Mail editor and publisher Brad McElhinny confirmed Thursday that Surber is no longer with the paper.

"The point of view of The Charleston Daily Mail’s editorial page is conservative," McElhinny wrote in a blog post. "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. 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 added.


"As of this week," McElhinny continued, "Mr. Surber is no longer employed by the Daily Mail. While his sometimes controversial and caustic columns were noted by many readers, few readers realize the in-depth institutional knowledge and substantial contributions he made during his 30 year career here."

It's unclear whether the paper fired Surber or if he voluntarily resigned.

Surber's departure marks the second time this week a conservative columnist has left a local paper amid a firestorm over inflammatory remarks. On Tuesday, the Tampa Tribune let go Douglas MacKinnon after the columnist drew fire for his proposal that several Southern states secede and form an anti-gay country called Reagan.

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