Guardianed Opinion

Contributor Brad Wieners sacked by the Guardian over tour guide aside

On the same day the San Francisco Bay Guardian's Freedom of Information issue hit the stands carrying the headline "Bound and Gagged," publisher Bruce B. Brugmann went berserk and banished Brad Wieners, one of the publication's longtime contributing writers. Wieners' crime? He made what can only be referred to as a most guileless commentary on the paper's standing in San Francisco journalism.

Writing for a British tourist guide, Timeout in San Francisco, Wieners stated, "The San Francisco Bay Guardian thinks of itself as alternative but has come to more or less reflect the mainstream of San Francisco." Faced with such betrayal from within his own ranks, Brugmann (or B3, as he signs his letters) reportedly spat the following marching orders: "I don't ever want to see Brad Wieners again. He is never writing for this paper as long as I live."

Guardian editors Tim Redmond, Miriam Wolf, and Pia Hinckle winked and nodded at Wieners, telling him to "lay low" for a while and Hurricane Bruce would, like all ill winds, pass. So Wieners went home, thinking he could initiate virtual employment at the paper, e-mailing in his columns and features. Wolf delivered Wieners' mail to him at home. But the disciplinary committee -- Redmond, Wolf, and Hinckle -- soon informed the errant Wieners that "lay low" meant he would not be writing for the paper until further notice. The Guardian literature supplement he was scheduled to edit this summer was assigned to another editor. And two scheduled features were postponed.

Shocked, Wieners asked for a meeting with the editors. It was then things became clear. Redmond said Wieners' blurb constituted "incompetence" and that the writer was oblivious to the "life-and-death nature" of the Guardian's mission and reputation. Wieners was told that if he apologized, bowed, and scraped before Brugmann sufficiently, he might get his job back -- an option Wieners was not willing to avail himself of. On March 29, Wieners faxed in his resignation letter.

"I was just hurt by the whole thing," Wieners says, standing in South Park on his way to a coffee refill. "What I wrote was totally misconstrued. All I was saying was that the Guardian has so shaped discourse in San Francisco [over the last three decades] that they were the mainstream, that they well represented and advocated for their constituency."

Asked for comment, Guardian Managing Editor Hinckle says, "The only thing I will say is this: Brad and the Bay Guardian had a parting of ways. Because we respect the confidentiality of our relationship with our writers we won't discuss it in public."

She added, "I'm sorry he's unhappy."
(Wolf, Brugmann, and Redmond did not respond by deadline to phone messages left at the Guardian.

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