High Salon-ic II

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According to Salon magazine staffers, Washington bureau chief Jonathan Broder was fired because he promised his boss he would keep his strong objection to Salon's controversial Henry Hyde exposť to himself -- and then broke that agreement by talking to the Washington Post. Broder committed a "fundamental violation of the trust that any organization must have in its employees," Salon editor David Talbot told the New York Times, in what has become the official version of the events that led to Broder's ouster.

But Broder tells a very different story. He never promised Talbot he would keep quiet, he told TIME Daily -- in fact, the Washington Post learned that Broder was unhappy only when they were given his name by David Talbot himself. Broder says he had taken several calls about the Hyde story -- and delivered as many "no comments" -- when the Post's Howard Kurtz told him that Talbot had identified him as the loudest internal dissenter to the story. "He put my name into the public arena," says Broder. "I had never told them I would keep quiet, but I did until then."

The question that nervous web journalists are asking now is whether there should have been a gag order in the first place. Broder, not surprisingly, says no. "This wasn't a disagreement over a hiring or firing," he says. "This was a principled journalistic decision... I voted with my feet." But not before Talbot, who could not be reached for comment, took one more shot at keeping Broder muzzled. According to Broder, Talbot made Broder's severance package conditional on a promise that Broder say nothing more on the subject. Broder says he thought about it. "Then," he says, "I told him where he could put his money."