The Ugliest Exits From the Denver Post Before Terry Frei's Japan Tweet

Terry Frei
Terry Frei
Courtesy of The Denver Post

Sportswriter Terry Frei's departure from the Denver Post  following a tweet in which he announced that he was "very uncomfortable with a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend" made for a notably ugly exit. But it's hardly unprecedented. Indeed, Westword has chronicled a number of bizarre firings or resignations at the paper over the years, involving plagiarism charges, gambling allegations and a previous Twitter scandal spurred by an uncomfortable come-on to a female hockey fan.

Here are our picks for the five most memorable Post departures.

G. Brown, foreground, in a 2016 photo from the Colorado Music Hall of Fame Facebook page.
G. Brown, foreground, in a 2016 photo from the Colorado Music Hall of Fame Facebook page.

G. Brown

Here's how we summarized the way Brown (currently the executive director of the Colorado Music Hall of Fame) left his longtime position as the Post's music critic in a 2004 Best of Denver item dubbed "Best Media Scandal."

Until last fall, G. Brown was the city's most prominent music critic — a staple in the Denver Post since the days when Boz Scaggs was a hitmaker, not a trivia question, and Yusuf Islam was still known as Cat Stevens. Not even an early-’90s suspension from the Post for essentially lifting the lead for a Keith Richards review from an item in Rolling Stone could knock him off his perch. Then, last October, Brown wrote a preview of a Simon & Garfunkel appearance so littered with appropriations from other sources that a Post investigation didn't even find them all. Brown characterized these borrowings as boo-boos, not chronic plagiarism, but resigned anyway in favor of a DJ gig at KCUV. The station's website includes a section called "What Can G. Brown Do for You?" that's loaded with past Brown articles, none of which are attributed to the Post or any other publication. ’Cause they can't make him resign again.

Chuck Green and a friend.
Chuck Green and a friend.
File photo

Chuck Green

In a May 30, 2002, column titled "Three the Hard Way," we outlined the circumstances that led to Green, a former editor of the paper turned columnist, being sent packing after 34 years without receiving so much as "cab fare," he said.

Green had already been under fire for alleged journalistic laziness when he published a column "purportedly" sent by relatives of Frank Rodriguez, a convicted killer who died earlier in 2002 before he could be executed.

The word "purportedly" was key. Green wrote that while "Rodriguez's attorney said [the letter] sounded like the real thing," the authors "couldn't be reached to verify the letter's authenticity." In other words, Green built an entire column around a missive that could have been entirely phony.

In the wake of that kerfuffle, Green's work began appearing less and less frequently in the Post. But a column about what was apparently the least controversial subject imaginable, Mother's Day, ran afoul of his overseers, who asked for some changes — and according to Greg Moore, who was about to come on board as the Post's editor, "that evolved into some other discussions about general feelings the editors had about his columns and feelings he had about how he was being edited."

At this point, Moore was apprised of the situation. "I was certainly involved in some of the content questions about his column. They were going to talk to him more broadly about how often his column would appear and on which days, and after that, he decided it was best that we part." Moore insisted that Green "was not fired. He said, 'Maybe it's time for me to go do something else,' and I can understand that. He's been writing a column for a long time, and with the level of scrutiny, he may have just felt he doesn't want to go through that anymore."

As for Green, he disputed the claim that he'd resigned, and hired attorney Dan Caplis to negotiate a settlement with the paper. Once that deal was done, Caplis told us, Green and his wife set out to start "a new life"

Without the Denver Post.

Jim Armstrong.
Jim Armstrong.
File photo courtesy of The Denver Post

Jim Armstrong

Prominent sportswriter Jim Armstrong left the Post in November 2011 after his name popped up in a grand jury indictment targeting a sports-betting operation.

The announcement of Armstrong's fate in the Post's article about the scheme qualified as more than a bit odd. He was initially described as "former Denver Post sports reporter and columnist Jim Armstrong" without any contextualizing about why the "former" descriptor was attached.

Only after a note about Armstrong using the account password "cheese" and often combining his bets with Blake Street Tavern managing partner Chris Fuselier did the piece mention him leaving the paper the day before the article's publication — a move about which he declined to comment. That was followed by a quote from then-Post editor Moore: "Readers have to believe and trust that all of us at The Denver Post cover events impartially and without a stake in the outcome. We take this very seriously."

Armstrong's fate subsequently became a debate topic on the website. One of his defenders wrote this:

I understand the aspect of "illegality" in this situation with regard to the placement of the wagers.

What I do not understand is the absolute standard some have asserted here that wagering on games is disqualifying for a sportswriter.

I have seen with my own eyes folks who cover horse racing at the parimutuel windows. I have even seen tracks where they set up a special window in the press box to accommodate the credentialed reporters covering the day's races. Should all those folks really be fired from their jobs becuse they bet on games?

Should this extend to fantasy sports — which almost always have a monetary aspect to them? Should a baseball reporter be fired for being in a baseball fantasy league? Should a baseball reporter be fired for being in a football fantasy league?

As I said, there are legal issues here, and the police and the courts should handle those issues regardless of the fact that one of the persons involved is a sports reporter. However, I think firing here is a bit over the top.

Continue for the story of two more bizarre departures from the Denver Post.

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