A former reporter for the Newport Plain Talk
—a newspaper in East Tennessee—is suing his former employer, saying that he was discouraged from digging too deeply into the life and times of Cocke County Mayor Iliff McMahan Jr. According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel
, the reporter, Gary Butler, who worked at the paper from 1999 until his termination late last year, says his bosses conspired with the mayor to "suppress unflattering stories, photographs and even a political advertisement criticizing the mayor."
He says that he was fired because he went ahead and did the investigating anyway. His former bosses don't disagree. The president of the company that owns the Plain Talk
told the News-Sentinel
, "Butler was told not to become involved in stories about McMahan without first consulting his supervisors." Apparently he didn't ask nicely enough.
Most mind boggling of all is the amount in damages that Butler seeks. He wants—drum roll please—$90 million(!) in damages. Man, media suppression don't come cheap these days.