There’s one more voice that’s off the air of Mississippi Public Broadcasting following the state network’s cancellation of Fresh Air.
Carl Gibson, whose first job out of journalism school was covering the state capitol for MPB, was fired on Friday for leaking an internal memo about the state network’s decision to drop the NPR-distributed show. Gibson was just returning from an assignment covering the Gulf Coast oil spill, he said, when controversy over MPB’s cancellation erupted over the blogosphere on July 15. Friends at the Jackson Free Press, the state’s only alternative newspaper, approached Gibson as a source, and he wanted to help them get the story straight, he told Current.
The Free Press‘s July 16 story points to the discrepancy between MPB Executive Director Judith Lewis’s official statement describing the “careful consideration and review” given to the decision to drop Fresh Air and the email that Gibson leaked, which was written by MPB Radio Director Kevin Farrell shortly after the axe came down. Farrell notified MPB staff July 8 that the show was being dropped immediately “due to content issues with the program,” according to Free Press. Farrell sent the memo less than 24 hours after MPB aired the Fresh Air interview in which comedian Louis C.K. discussed why he had sex with his shirt on. MPB has pointed to this edition of Fresh Air as an example of the content it found inappropriate.
Leaking the memo was a violation of MPB policy, Gibson acknowledged, but he mostly regrets sending it from his office email account, which was traceable. “I was not the only one leaking emails; I was the only one that got caught.” He believes that, by canceling Fresh Air, MPB Executive Director Judith Lewis violated another important policy: MPB’s commitment not to censor or edit programs for broadcast “solely out of fear of complaint.”
MPB has not responded to Current‘s request for comment.