When Joe McGinniss moved into a house next to Sarah Palin's Wasilla home, the Internet exploded. Palin posted a sassy note on her Facebook page. Todd Palin raised the fence. And McGinniss went on The Today Show to say that he rented the house only because it was such a good deal.
As screaming heads and snarky blogs across the country weighed in, Palin's hometown paper, The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, ran an editorial on May 29 that reminded McGinniss that "Alaska has a law that allows the use of deadly force in protection of life and property."
It was a throwaway line at the end of an otherwise forgettable editorial, but those 34 words touched off a media firestorm.
Tom Mitchell, the Frontiersman managing editor who wrote the editorial, apologized, saying he didn't mean that McGinniss should be a victim of violence, and the Frontiersman's publisher suspended comments on the editorial after 428 postings, which ranged from "Great piece" to "Cancel my subscription."
"It certainly caught fire," said Mitchell, now the Frontiersman's former managing editor. "Palin's a spark plug for a lot of things."
The reason Mitchell is the former managing editor is because on June 14 -- two weeks after the infamous editorial had circled the globe -- Frontiersman's publisher Kari Sleight sent out a terse e-mail: "Tom 'TC' Mitchell has resigned his position at the Frontiersman to pursue other efforts. His resignation is effective immediately. We wish Tom well in his future endeavors."
Mitchell, a longtime and well-respected journalist in the state, said he was surprised to lose his job. He also said that while the editorial wasn't mentioned at the final meeting he had with Sleight, "It doesn't mean that she or others in the corporation didn't factor that in."