New York Press editor Jeff Koyen stepped down today in response to intense criticism about last week’s satire on the pope. Koyen was a major league ass plug who attacked us in 2003 for publishing The Hipster Handbook:
“Lanham’s unbelievably stupid 169-page pocketbook is a bad joke, a riff, an overly long Saturday Night Live skit converted to print…. he’s now embarrassed by everything he did the night before, so he’s claiming satire.”
(Yeah, strong sales and critical success are pretty embarassing, Jeff). Koyen was even stupid enough to think the book (and its satirical lexicon) were not intended to be a joke.
Nevertheless, we are sad to see the censors prevail. Is this the 1950′s? The Pope article was a joke. And the author of the article, Matt Taibbi, who we know personally and have much respect for, is an incredibly nice person. We guess being tasteless is a crime again. We never thought we’d be on Koyen’s side. The sun will be turning red soon. There will be locusts!
Here’s Koyen’s statement:
In Friday’s Daily News, Rep. Anthony Weiner called on New Yorkers to “exercise their right to take as many of these rags as they can and put them in the trash.” Unfortunately for Mr. Weiner, New Yorkers don’t have that right. No one does. Interrupting the distribution of any newspaper-even a paid one, wherein you buy, say, 1000 copies and toss them-is against the law. Case law dictates that the right to circulation is to be held as sacred as the right to publish, as one is worthless without the other.
My bosses apparently don’t believe in New York Press‘ right to distribute. They refused to stand up against Rep. Weiner; they refused to condemn his call-to-action as immoral (and illegal). They also refused to stand behind me in the face of harsh criticism for publishing Matt Taibbi’s “52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope”. On Friday afternoon, I went on the 3 different radio programs and even suffered through an MSNBC appearance with Joe Scarborough and the disgusting bigot Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League. I did my best to show this battle to be one of free expression.
This morning, I was told to accept a two-week unpaid suspension. During that time, I was to “think about what this paper should be.”
Problem is, New York Press already is the paper it should be. We are iconoclastic, occasionally obnoxious but always intelligent. If you see through the nasty Pope jokes, for instance, you will see a well-reasoned political argument.
Publisher Chris Rohland is a spineless alt-weekly weenie. I can’t blame him, really. He has a wife and kids, and a nice home in New Jersey. He wants nothing more than to punch the clock and get his paychecks. Owner David Unger, who is the paper’s ultimate owner, is similarly spineless. They want New York Press to be “advertiser-friendly”; they “don’t want controversy.”
That’s their choice. But I don’t need to be party to such weenieness. And I won’t be sent to my room without dessert. Hence, I resigned this morning.
It’s been a great run, and I have nothing but respect for everyone in the editorial department I’ve just left behind. Chris Rohland and David Unger, however, can blow me. Such weak-willed and lackluster men should not be in control of a newspaper, especially not in these times of editorial restriction by way of advertiser dick-sucking. They’re too vulnerable to the appeal of money.