The two Oxford American editors who were fired after a lock out of the quarterly’s offices and a “personnel investigation” are lawyering up.
Managing editor Carol Ann Fitzgerald wrote on her Facebook page:
“Dear Friends: Marc Smirnoff, founder and editor of The Oxford American, and I, the magazine’s managing editor and art editor, have been fired in the strangest, most secretive manner imaginable. We plan to give the full details and truth of what we know as soon as possible but we must first focus on preparing our legal response. In the meantime, we send out our heartfelt gratitude to those many people who have enriched our lives by their connection and support to the real Oxford American.”
Mr. Smirnoff told the Arkansas Times that he and Ms. Fitzgerald were called to Little Rock (where the literary magazine’s business offices are located) on Thursday to meet with attorneys. He said they were questioned for hours without being told what, specifically, had prompted the investigation.
Mr. Smirnoff refused to explain what their questions were “because he was in the process of hiring an attorney,” but that he’s “not even convinced [their claims] were illegal.”
He did admit to one thing, however.
“One thing they asked me was had I ever served alcohol at a party to underage interns,” he said. “And the answer was, ‘yes.’ I know that’s illegal and I have to own up to it.”
Meanwhile, publisher Warwick Sabin—who locked out the staff, summoned the editors to Little Rock, and has been installed interim editor —has extra incentive to worry about his image. He’s running unopposed for the Arkansas state legislature in November.
Ms. Fitzgerald wrote on Facebook: “Marc just said: it disgusts me that a politician is the Oxford American’s interim editor.” Also: “The only people who should be in the literary business are literary people. –Marc Smirnoff”
The Observer reached out to Ms. Fitzgerald, Mr. Smirnoff and Mr. Sabin and will update if we hear back.