High Salon-ic

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Salon magazine editor David Talbot knew that if his scrappy little webzine ran a story about Henry Hyde's sex life it would make a big splash inside the Beltway. But no sooner had Salon started playing in the media big leagues than Talbot began acting like a Steinbrenner, firing his Washington bureau chief for grousing publicly about his news judgment. Did Talbot forget that journalism -- especially web journalism -- is supposed to be about freedom of speech?

Talbot says he ordered Jonathan Broder not to talk about the story -- Broder says he never agreed to that. When Broder told to Washington Post media harpy Howard Kurtz that he "objected to it on journalistic grounds, on grounds of fairness and because of the way Salon would be perceived," Talbot blew his stack, and Broder was gone. But should Talbot have made such a demand in the first place? The editor says that the magazine was under enough fire as it was -- bomb threats, congressional attacks, press hue and cry -- and that Salon didn't need any more bad press. Come on. Talbot brags about the 400,000 new readers the story netted him, calls breaking news stories "free p.r.," and declared in the Post that "it was right for us to pull Henry Hyde's pants down." Forgiving Broder -- or better still, running his dissent in Salon -- would have gotten Talbot the best press he's had all week.