The Press: The Machine Wins

Not all editors emerge triumphant from court after tangling in print with their readers. Last week Gene Wirges, 39, former editor of the weekly Democrat in Morrilton, Ark., was sentenced to three years in prison for perjury.

Wirges' conviction was only the latest incident in a long history of troubles that eventually cost him his paper. While he was in command, the Democrat attacked the well-entrenched local political machine of Sheriff Marlin Hawkins, a close ally of Governor Orval Faubus. After accusing the machine of election fraud, Wirges was threatened, beaten up and shot at. Harassed by every possible legal weapon his...

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