Our Story of Losing The Oxford American



MINI-UPDATE: Enzinna no longer works at The Oxford American (just as Marc Smirnoff predicted). Wanna know why? Read Enzinna's text messages to Carol Ann below. Enzinna has found an appropriate job at the notorious VICE magazine, which is banned from many, if not all, college campuses. No comment on Enzinna's severance package from Rick Massey, Chairman of The OA Board. When Marc Smirnoff fired Enzinna, Enzinna demanded $5,000 in severance, which Smirnoff refused him. No comment from State Rep Warwick Sabin, current publisher.



Cast of Characters

 

Richard (“Rick”) N. Massey: Chairman of The Oxford American Board of Directors

Work Phone: (501) 320-4871

E-mail: richard.massey@westrockcap.com

 

Warwick Sabin: Publisher and “Interim Editor” of The Oxford American

Work Phone: (501) 374-0000

E-mail: wsabin@oxfordamerican.org

 

Marc Smirnoff (above, right): Founder and former Editor of The Oxford American

Work Phone: currently unemployed

E-mail: godisinthedetails1@gmail.com

 

Carol Ann Fitzgerald (above, left): former Managing Editor and Art Editor of The Oxford American

Work Phone: currently unemployed

E-mail: carolann.fitzgerald@gmail.com

 

Stuart Jackson: Employment Lawyer and Partner at Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP

Work Phone: (501) 371-0808

E-mail: wjackson@wlj.com

 

Amy Ellingson: Web Editor of The Oxford American

Work Phone: (501) 450-5798 

E-mail: amye@oxfordamerican.org

 

Wes Enzinna: Senior Editor of The Oxford American

Work Phone: (501) 374-0000

E-mail: wenzinna@oxfordamerican.org 

 

Walker Beauchamp: Editorial Assistant of The Oxford American

Work Phone: (501) 374-0000

E-mail: wbeauchamp@oxfordamerican.org

 

The (Fired) Intern

(TBA)

 

 

 

MINI-TIMELINE OF EVENTS MAY 21 TO JULY 15, 2012

 

 

monday, may 21

Summer interns start arriving at Oxford American editorial office in Conway, Arkansas.

 

saturday, june 2

Publisher Warwick Sabin hosts Film Festival party at OA business headquarters in Little Rock. Alcohol is served openly to underage OA interns and non-staff minors.

 

tuesday, july 3

Marc Smirnoff reprimands an intern (for the second time) about her poor attitude and performance.

 

wednesday, july 4

Smirnoff hosts 4th of July party for editorial staff at cabin on Mt. Petit Jean. Smirnoff uses OA credit card for food but not alcohol. Editorial assistant Walker Beauchamp collects money from interns and buys/brings alcohol to Mt. Petit Jean. Egregious acts of insubordination are committed by senior editor Wes Enzinna and objected to, in front of others, by Smirnoff.

 

thursday, july 5

Smirnoff reprimands the problem intern (for the third time), in front of everybody, and threatens to fire her (for the first time). Smirnoff and the problem intern have a long talk and agree to work out their problems. Smirnoff sends text message to Enzinna telling him they will have a very serious discussion on Friday.

 

thursday, july 5

Enzinna sends urgent text messages to “best friend” (managing editor) Carol Ann Fitzgerald to persuade her to call him about his termination meeting with Smirnoff on following day. Enzinna secretly tapes phone conversation with Fitzgerald.

 

friday, july 6

Smirnoff fires the intern when she doesn't show up for work. Smirnoff severely reprimands web editor Amy Ellingson and puts her on probation. Smirnoff gives Enzinna the option of being fired or resigning.

 

saturday, july 7

Enzinna, Ellingson, and the fired intern file complaints against Smirnoff and Fitzgerald to an OA Board member. There are rumors that one or more of the parties threatened The OA with a lawsuit.  

 

tuesday, july 10, 12:53 a.m.

Though Enzinna has agreed to be banned from the OA’s editorial offices at UCA--as part of the preliminary termination agreement--he enters OA late at night on Monday and deletes and copies files from his OA computer. Enzinna leaves an obscene message on his OA computer (12:53 a.m.).

 

tuesday, july 10

Smirnoff's final termination meeting with Enzinna.

 

wednesday, july 11

Smirnoff takes day off to visit Fayetteville, Arkansas. OA Board Chairman Massey calls Smirnoff and orders him to report to his office (with Fitzgerald) the next day, July 12, at 10:30 a.m.

 

wednesday, july 11

By calling the UCA police to report Smirnoff and Fitzgerald as threats, Sabin unilaterally breaks OA Handbook regulations regarding the “confidentiality” of the “investigation.”

 

wednesday, july 11

Just as Fitzgerald “was leaving” The OA UCA office [see UCA police log] five UCA police officers arrive to “secure” what is, in plain terms, an empty office.

 

thursday, july 12

In Little Rock, at Chairman Massey’s corporate headquarters, Smirnoff and Fitzgerald are separately interrogated by “investigators” (two different lawyers hired by The OA Board).

 

thursday, july 12

Immediately after Kim ends her “interview” with Fitzgerald, she tells Fitzgerald that Sabin (who, though in attendance for the duration of the “interview,” said nothing) will now speak. Sabin tells Fitzgerald that, effective immediately, she is suspended with pay from the magazine. [Note: Fitzgerald later told the OA officials that she would not accept any money from The OA during the time of her suspension.]

 

Conclusion: It is obvious that Sabin knew before the “interview” began that Fitzgerald would be suspended but waited till it was finished to tell her that.

 

thursday, july 12

Immediately after Jackson ends his interview with Smirnoff, he tells Smirnoff that Massey (who, though in attendance for the duration of the “interview,” essentially said nothing except to excuse himself for potty breaks) will now speak.

 

Massey tells Smirnoff that, effective immediately, he is suspended with pay from the magazine and that Smirnoff must turn in his cellphone.

 

Conclusion: It is obvious that Massey knew before the “interview” began that Smirnoff would be suspended but waited till it was finished to tell him that.

 

Smirnoff stands up and says, with heat and in regards to being paid while on suspension: “I don’t want your dirty, stinkin’ money.” And: “I will turn in my cellphone to the UCA police, not you.”

 

Smirnoff leaves. Takes a few steps. Stops. Then turns backs and re-enters the conference room where “investigator” Jackson and Chairman Massey remain sitting.

 

Smirnoff says, with heat (but no shouting), something like: “If you really want something interesting to investigate, why don’t you see if Warwick Sabin did any political business from his OA office computer during OA working hours. He said he did not. But you know what? I don’t believe him.”

 

Note: It is not till they are back in Conway that Smirnoff and Fitzgerald realize they no longer have access to their work computers or their Oxford American e-mail accounts (which both used for professional and personal communications). Smirnoff and Fitzgerald both believe that their computers and their OA e-mail accounts contain evidence that would help exonerate them.

 

thursday, july 12

Smirnoff turns in his cellphone to UCA police.

 

friday, july 13

Log Cabin Democrat and other publications print a communication by Sabin that not only libels Smirnoff but singlehandedly breaks the “investigation’s” strict “confidentiality” agreement.

 

friday, july 13 (around 9:45 a.m.)

Sabin informs Fitzgerald and Smirnoff they have one day (27 hours) to provide evidence against unspecified charges. (Sabin continues to block their access to OA files, documents, photographs, e-mails, and OA colleagues--some of which and whom could, if properly researched or questioned, disrupt the insinuations that are piling up against us.)

 

saturday, july 14

Sabin sends this e-mail to Smirnoff:

 

From: Warwick Sabin <wsabin@oxfordamerican.org>

To: Marc Smirnoff <masoxford@yahoo.com>

Sent: Friday, July 13, 2012 9:22 AM

Subject: Notice of Special Board Meeting on Sunday, July 15, 2012

 

Dear Marc:

 

This is official notice that a Special Meeting of The Oxford American Board of Directors will take place via teleconference at 10:30 a.m. (Central time) on Sunday, July 15, 2012.

 

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss personnel matters involving Marc Smirnoff and Carol Ann Fitzgerald.

 

Because you are the subject of the meeting, the Board requests that you not attend the meeting.

 

Warwick

 

sunday, july 15

Sabin fires Smirnoff and Fitzgerald by e-mail. No reasons for the terminations are given.

 


INTRODUCTION TO SMIRNOFF AND FITZGERALD’S SIDE OF THE STORY

Dear Friends and Colleagues and Contributors,

 

I keep trying to write this letter. There seem, though, to be too many ways for Carol Ann and me to approach what has happened and too many ways to think and talk about it. But I finally decided I’d just write it as clearly as I can and in my voice (no lawyers) and despite the absurd length.

 

I know in writing so truthfully we will be judged harshly.  I don’t think we mind that so much any more. We just want to be judged fairly.

 

We have already been judged unfairly by an “internal investigation” and a manipulated and insolent Board of Directors.

 

Well, here we go…. What I write here is the truth--at least as far as I sincerely see it and think it.

 


OUR STORY OF LOSING THE OXFORD AMERICAN

As you may know, Carol Ann, the managing editor/art editor of The Oxford American (for eight years), and I, The OA’s founder and chief editor (for twenty years), were fired on Sunday, July 15, 2012.

 

What you don’t know is why we’ve been fired.

 

We don’t know either.

 

That’s because OA publisher Warwick Sabin (also now the magazine’s “interim editor”) and his Board are invoking an Arkansas law that allows them to keep silent about their reasons for firing us.

 

Arkansas is an “at will” state, which means it is lawful for employers to fire their employees for any reason and without saying why. (One lawyer said we could be fired for the color of our shoes; another lawyer said we could be fired for the color of our shirts.)

 

Carol Ann and I are not contesting Arkansas’s “at will” status.

 

We are, however, contesting the ethics and honor of Warwick Sabin and Rick Massey and The OA Board itself in firing the magazine’s two most faithful, long-serving editors (one of whom is the magazine’s founder) without having the decency of saying why they made that decision.

 

We the accused are simply left guessing, from the very insinuating questions we heard a few days before we were fired, what the charges could have been.

 

But there’s no telling if our guesses were right or wrong.

 

Arkansas may be an “at will” state, but the few people I fired when I worked at The OA in Arkansas saw my eyeballs when I fired them and they at least knew why I fired them--even if they profoundly disagreed with my decision and despised me for it.

 

QUESTION: Cowards in an “at will” state can take the Sabin route and not tell a person why they are firing him or her, but shouldn’t leaders of a company and members of a Board (and future politicians) have more conscience than cowards do and more humanity?

 

ANSWER: If you don’t have the guts to tell people why you are firing them, you don’t have the guts to be a leader.

 

O TRANSPARENCY! COME OUT, COME OUT, WHEREVER YOU ARE!

There is also the matter of “transparency.” When Sabin became publisher after the magazine had been embezzled by an office manager hired by ex-publisher Ray Wittenberg, Sabin used to drone on at OA Board meetings about how he, the new publisher, would lead The OA with…transparency in all matters.

 

Where is that transparency now?

 

Where is the transparency in hiding the charges against Smirnoff and Fitzgerald not only from the public but from Smirnoff and Fitzgerald?

 

Where is the transparency in hiding the names of their accusers from Smirnoff and Fitzgerald? (The American Constitution says that the accused have the right to face their accusers.)

 

Where is the transparency in hiding the “report” of the “internal investigation” from Smirnoff and Fitzgerald?

 

Where is the transparency in hiding The OA Board from Smirnoff and Fitzgerald? The OA Board, presumably filled with honorable people, did not even hear directly from Smirnoff and Fitzgerald!

 

WHEN RAISING YOU, DID YOUR MOM OR DAD TELL YOU THERE IS ONLY ONE SIDE TO EVERY STORY?

Yesterday, I managed to speak with a friend who had been hard to reach during the timeline of our troubles--he was dealing with turmoil of his own. Because so many people we regarded as friends have already betrayed us, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this friend, though at least he called me back--and when so many people refuse to answer our phone calls or e-mails, a call returned is a novelty or gift.

 

My friend had, I knew, like many of you, heard some very troubling accounts of us. After exchanging hellos, I pounced and said to him something like, “Man, all I want from you is to hear our side of the story before you judge us. That’s all. Once you hear us, feel free to blast us if you think we deserve it. But I want you to first hear from me before siding with the attacks and rumors.”

 

He actually tried to brush that aside by saying: “Well, that’s a given, isn’t it? I would never judge you or Carol Ann before hearing what you had to say.”

 

The concept of hearing both sides of a story before passing judgment should be a given--I agree. Hearing both sides of a story seems to be the foundation above which American justice looms. Maybe most of our relationships are even built atop it, too.

 

But honorable, naïve friend! Carol Ann and I have quickly learned (or in my case, re-learned) that it is not, in fact, a given that people--or even friends!--will want to hear what you have to say if you are named in a public scandal.

 

We know for a fact that even those Oxford American colleagues of ours whom we have felt very close to and worked with for years--people like Ray Wittenberg, Kathleen King, Walker Beauchamp, Tammy Gillis, Cristen Hemmins, Tom Martin--have not heard our sides of the story or asked to. (Yet they toil away on my creation….) (Important note: The incredibly talented OA designer Tom Martin did ask for our side of the story but only after we contacted him.) If you don’t believe me, you can ask them yourselves. If they choose not to speak with you, that is their choice, not ours.

 

Of course, Sabin and The OA Board will say that The OA Board “heard” everything they needed to hear of our story via a written report of the “investigation” conducted by “investigators” hired by The OA Board of Directors.

 

We have never seen the report in question so we cannot say what’s in it or not in it. We cannot say whether it conveys accurately or fairly what we feel are the crucial points of this business or whether it is riddled with bias, errors, and libel.

 

All we can say is that we were not invited to speak in our defense when The OA Board decided our fate--or, at least, our careers and reputations--on July 15, 2012. Sabin and Massey know more about politics and corporate schemes than I do. So I am not surprised that they know how to legally set up a behind-the-scenes tribunal. Again: I say legal. I do not accuse the gentlemen, in this instance, of breaking any laws. But I did not say: noble. Nor did I say that their behind-the-scenes “tribunal” and “sense of justice” jibes with what I, and perhaps others, hope to find in politicians and non-profits and literary magazines.

 

TEAM SABIN’S USE OF THE WORD “SPECIAL”

All we can say about the Sunday, July 15, “special” OA Board meeting that decided our careers and reputations is that the two supervisors--OA publisher Warwick Sabin and OA Board Chairman Rick Massey (about both of whom I will speak later)--were in cahoots against us; were biased against us; were rude in their treatment of us and fain to distort our words, and one of them maybe even wanted my job.

 

None of these obvious or subtle possibilities has seemed to bother any of the noble characters on The OA Board of Directors.

 

WHAT WE AIM TO PROVE WITH OUR WORDS

In this document of our words, we aim to prove, among other things, that long before the Board meeting on July 15, 2012, Sabin and Massey had proved their bias against us and pre-judged us.

 

We also aim to show in this document that the actions and characters and motivations of our accusers are highly suspect and biased at best--and deceptive and treacherous, if not criminal, at worst.

 

As for the length of this document--the long length--I apologize, but length is, unfortunately, necessary. The many falsehoods spoken against us and leaked behind our backs might have been easy enough to utter and spread, at least at one point; but they are hellish to rebut and stop.

 

For those people who will mock us for the excruciating length of our defense, please just try, instead, to be grateful that you are not in our position of having to defend yourself against false charges of sexual harassment, which seem to be the most devious and tricky of false charges to defend against. False charges do not come with reliable evidence or impartial witnesses; they inevitably boil down to one person making claims against another--the ol’ “he said/she said” can of worms. If any of the people involved in “he said/she said” scenarios is dishonest then you get a bigger, more nefarious mess---and not a can of worms but a barrel of serpents.

 

And, of course, less chance for justice.

 

WHY WE ARE SPEAKING OUT IN THIS PUBLIC DOCUMENT

We decided to speak out in public about our firings because when things are this serious, we don’t want lawyers to speak for us.

 

(We think that when your lives and careers and honor are at stake, you must speak for yourself.)

 

We speak out here because we also don’t want to let Team Sabin continue to hog the narrative.

 

We speak because we are still upset that we never got a proper hearing in the sham “internal investigation,” funded by The OA Board, which had an obvious lack of respect for anything we had to say. We are also tired of the selective outpourings of OA Chairman Rick Massey, apparently the New Anti-Oxford American’s chief spokesman, who inevitably emphasizes the “confidential” nature of the “internal investigation” while simultaneously leaking distorted nuggets from the “investigation” that always, coincidentally, happen to portray Carol Ann and me in the most despicable, if imaginary, manner possible.

 

We speak here out of our love for those of our friends and colleagues and contributors who want to hear our side of the story. We are so grateful that some people do, in fact, care about us and do, in fact, want to hear our side of the “story.” It empowers us to know we have friends who think fairness and justice are important. Such an outpouring gives us courage to speak and fight.

 

Those of you who have never been outnumbered or derided by a mob or betrayed by people you trusted might not understand what I mean. You might just think that I’ve got a lot of vacuous platitudes at my disposal.

 

Those of you who have been in situations like ours will, I think, feel the sincerity of what we are saying.

 

In any case, we are truly, truly touched by many of the people who have reached out to us. The fact that from July 11 on, all e-mails and texts and calls made to our long-held numbers (I’ve had the same e-address and phone number for years) are suddenly bouncing back is simply another way Sabin and Massey decided to hurt us and it has made it hard to speak to everyone we would like to. Obviously, we don’t remember the e-addresses or phone numbers of hundreds.

 

We hope this public paper of ours will at least help us reconnect with other dear friends who have not been able to locate us.

 

We also think OA readers and contributors are treated with more respect if they hear from the magazine’s founder (me) and its most hard-working (and most loyal) senior editor (Carol Ann Fitzgerald)--and not from previously silent members of The OA business team or Board.

 

ALSO WORTH TALKING ABOUT: OA INTERNS

We also speak out so that maybe current and future interns won’t have to associate with people we fear are liars and knaves.

 

We also want to air the truth about our own relationships with interns. For example, I have been accused of sexually harassing one intern (she made these claims the very day after I fired her). She lied; there was nothing sexual in our relationship except PG-rated back-and-forth banter (meaning I wasn’t the only one bantering). (Other possible complaints against me are so vague and mysterious that I won’t bother to address them until they come out clearly and in the open, attached to the names of my accusers.)

 

While many know I am tough on OA interns, they also know that I am fair with them and caring. They know I admire them and root for them and that, unless they totally stink in their work at The OA (and the vast majority excel), I will help them out in the future as best I can.

 

Furthermore, I don’t regard OA interns as inferiors--though they are unpaid and usually inexperienced in professional publishing--but as colleagues. I respect them because I know that without our interns (and our intense and time-consuming training of them), we could never have published any issue of The Oxford American. (The early issues of The OA had volunteers, not interns, but we may regard the two as interchangeable.)

 

So, corny as this pledge may sound to some, I know I owe it to that unpaid but honorable workforce we call OA interns to defy those who pretend to care about them.

 

Rick Massey and Warwick Sabin, for example, claim to care about OA interns, but their interest feels strategic and new, not heartfelt and old. Until now, until now, until now, neither of them ever worked closely with OA editorial interns--or, really, ever even asked about their welfare or their hopes or dreams or their lives in Conway.

 

And those interns who came to The OA came not because of Rick Massey and Warwick Sabin; they came because they liked the magazine and hoped they could learn something and/or give something to it. They came to The OA because they trusted the editorial team--it was we, the editors, after all, who made the magazine they liked and who analyzed their applications and who decided which of them to interview and which of them to invite to Conway, Arkansas--not Rick Massey or Warwick Sabin.

 

Yes, before Carol Ann and I leave her, I want to help, if I can, sweep out or decrease the influence of some of the corrupting forces now entangling The Oxford American. And why shouldn’t I try that? I started this magazine. Not Rick Massey or Warwick Sabin (or other weak Board members); not Wes Enzinna or Amy Ellingson or Walker Beauchamp.

 

It was I who started this magazine in the late 1980s…as a dream or because “it came in a vision--a man appeared on a flaming pie.” Jimmy Pitts, my roomie at the time, was there when my vision began and, later, a few other (monetarily) poor but diehard believers, such as Laura Robertson, Jeff Baker, and John Hester, kept the sparks going (and sometimes my faith in it). (John and Jimmy have since died.) In 1992, the magazine became a reality. Funny enough, it came to life without lawyers and money. (Three or four years after its birth, a former lawyer did get involved with the magazine and he was both giving and wise, but that is another story.) And, of course, it did take money--more money than I ever thought would be in my control--to print the first issue (the first issue was all I could focus on at the time). Fortunately, it was not the kind of money that lures the slickest of lawyers and politicians. It was about $15,000. I cobbled together that sum through a most amazing and motley crew of decidedly not rich but decidedly very generous benefactors (all of whom were eventually paid back). (Maybe that’s a story for another time, too.)

 

Anyway, under my leadership, The Oxford American began to take on aspects of life, and then, in 1992, she flew! Here is how I described our editorial perspective in issue number one: The OA’s “aim is not exclusively regional since we aspire to publish, regardless of origin, the best writing. (It just so happens, lucky us!, that a lot of the best writing in the United Sates can be found in the Southern territories.)”

 

Then I saw that it would be fun to be precisely regional and so I started to say that The OA aimed to “explore the American South through good writing.”

 

Most recently, and maybe because some wisdom accidentally and finally reached me, I started to say that the magazine “aimed to provide truthful glimpses of the South.”

 

I said “glimpses” because I was beginning to see that maybe that is all we as human beings are allowed to see clearly and, further, maybe glimpses, though fleeting, aren’t all that small or ephemeral in their value. I said “truthful” because I have never purposefully or knowingly published a falsehood in The Oxford American magazine, which, as I said, began in 1992. It died on July 15, 2012.

 

TOP TEN POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF THIS PUBLIC MESSAGE

1. Team Sabin will ignore everything in this document. (Claiming that since their  “internal investigation” is over, justice has been fondled and served. The official timeframe for the “thorough” investigation: July 7–July 15, 2012.)

 

2. Using head-games and acrobatic semantics, Team Sabin will lie about many things in this document.

 

3. Chairman Massey and Team Sabin and Cohorts will sue me for libel and even though you can’t win a libel case if what your opponent says is true, you can still make life hell for a poorer (albeit truthful) opponent by intimidating him with lawyers, deep pockets, and meanness. (What Hamlet called: “the oppressor’s wrong.”)

 

(Note: If, or when, Carol Ann and/or I are sued for libel, we humbly request a pro bono lawyer with a literary bent. I know I am mocking legal machinations, lawyers, and legalese in this document but I don’t do that because I hate lawyers who behave honorably and fight for justice. I do that because I hate lawyers who behave dishonorably and fight for money. My own late pops was a lawyer, so I know that plenty of fine lines exist between good lawyers and bad lawyers. Pro bono: when we were fired, Carol Ann and I immediately lost our health insurance and, of course, no severance pay was offered to us, so we’re kinda poor.)

 

4. Marc Smirnoff and Carol Ann Fitzgerald disappear under mysterious circumstances. (Or some contraband will be planted in the Smirnoff bungalow or in his station wagon or some new false witness, like a Jack-in-the-Box, will pop up for another round of “he said/she said.”)

 

5. Warwick Sabin becomes publisher of Garden & Gun or governor of Arkansas.

 

6. People with assumed names say hurtful things in online commentary about Marc Smirnoff’s ego. (When you are in deep trouble, old and forgotten enemies, or anybody who feels slighted in some other, unrelated matter, emerge from the sludge like so many…cockroaches.)

 

7. All editorial staffers will suddenly make $100,000 a year. Massey, the money man, knows he can buy friends and good will. On Friday, July 20, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that a local do-gooder had pledged to donate--beginning immediately--$69,000 a year for five years. This money will be used to repay The OA’s current debt to the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), which, before the first payment, stood at $700,000. The do-gooder’s five $69k payments will total $345,000.

 

Question: Who was the generous donating do-gooder?

 

Answer: Rick Massey.

 

Cynicism aside, I do have to wonder if the timing of Rick Massey’s generous donation had anything to do with what Sabin and Massey are currently trying to accomplish at The OA. If not, I, for one, thank Rick Massey for his big, pure, unsullied heart. (On the other hand, the Nobel Laureate I.B. Singer said, “There is no such thing as coincidences....”)

 

8. The designation “intern” is banned from the magazine’s vocabulary and changed, in proper doublespeak fashion, to “associate vice president of internal affairs.”

 

9. The names of Jimmy Pitts and John Hester are removed from The OA masthead.

 

10. One of the photographs of Wes Enzinna giving the finger (see attached) is used as the cover of The Oxford American Sex Issue.

 

INTRO OVER; THE NARRATIVE BEGINS….

Warning: This narrative, though truthful, is exceedingly long and sometimes it is weird. Often it is sad.

 

SMIRNOFF AND FITZGERALD’S SIDE OF THE STORY: TIMELINE

1. Friday, July 6, 2012.

I fire, via text, an Oxford American intern (the first time I ever had to fire an intern). Later that same day, I severely reprimand, in person, web editor Amy Ellingson. Then, same day, I severely reprimand senior editor Wes Enzinna and give him the option of being fired or resigning. He says he wants to resign (to take effect after the current deadline). We agree to work on a “resignation package,” but agree, in principle, to its essential attributes--or so I say and am told.

 

2. Saturday, July 7.

The very next day, Enzinna, Ellingson, and the fired intern file complaints with an OA Board member against me--and Carol Ann Fitzgerald! Please emphasize this: Though it happened on July 7, Carol Ann and I don’t learn of this act of retaliation by disgruntled employees until July 12.

 

3. Sunday, July 8.

My meeting with Enzinna on Friday had been very strange and exhausting.

On Sunday evening, I am suddenly struck with the fear that Enzinna might try to sabotage the current deadline. On his computer are many key files and information needed to complete the deadline and though I do not wish to be paranoid or unfair, even to somebody I don’t want to work with, I have to reasonably consider what harm Enzinna might wish to do. There is no need to involve the UCA police, of course, but under Arkansas law, employers are allowed complete access to their employees’ computers. So, on that hunch, Carol Ann and I drive to the office and check Enzinna’s computer to see if there have been any suspicious deletions.

 

What we find on his Google search history (which I printed out) is that for most of the day Friday--an important deadline day--right up to when we had our tense fire-or-resign meeting, Enzinna had deleted e-mails and some files from his computer and looked up things like “Arkansas law sexual harassment,” “rape,” “sexual harassment lawyers, Arkansas,” etc.

 

I unplug his computer so that if he sneaks into the office (another hunch), he will know I have (legally) searched his computer.

 

4. Still Sunday, July 8.

I send this text to Enzinna:

 

Wes, I am going to shoot to meet with you Tuesday [July 12]. In the meantime I suggest we continue work on sojo [our nickname for the current issue]. I also suggest that you work from home tomorrow and work up a memo on how you think you could work from home effectively and still playing a leading role in making the sojo deadline. Would any inhouse duties have to be transferred to others, etc. I also need for you to accept immediately that all editorial ideas and any professional communication you sent or received regarding the oa up to this point and extending into the future belong to the oa. Any erasue or destruction of oa property, intellectual or otherwise, will be considered objectionable. And finally did I just see you in conway???? Please respond to all this so I can tweak and prepare my official proposal regarding the future in good faith. Said proposal I hope to have ready by tuesday! And then if you accept and if I accept any counterproposals then we then turn the matter over to warwick for quick, I hope, approval. Let me know. Thanks, mas

 

He responds the same day:

 

Hey marc, just got this, was on a long bike ride. But this all sounds good, I agree. I'll work up a memo tomorrow from home. And, no, I wasn't just in Conway! Though maybe ill come by tonirrow eve to get some files? I have most all of what I need, though. But, yes, all sounds good and I'll shoot you a note tomorrow and I'll look forward to meeting with you on Tuesday. Thanks. Yeah, I understand, and, yeah, plan b is the plan. I'll standby and request my files--ill probably have James bring them to me because I don't think Amy [Ellingson] wants to be involved, and that's probably best. Let me know; we'll talk tomorrow. Thanks. Wes

 

Note: I did not give Enzinna permission to come by “tonirrow eve to get some files” and he did not “standby and request” his files or ask “James to bring them” to him.

 

5. Tuesday, July 10. 12:53 a.m.

We see by the “history” on Enzinna’s OA computer that Enzinna entered the OA/UCA office around midnight and both copied and deleted files that were on his OA computer. He creates, at 12:53 a.m. (ah, the precision of computers), a Word document he calls “TOP SECRET DIARY,” which he leaves out on the desktop of the computer. He has, I hope you can see, left that document for the eyes of Carol Ann and me. We take the bait.

 

Below, in the enlarged bold type, is the entirety of Enzinna’s “TOP SECRET DIARY.” That document, on the desktop of his computer, was written and left there by Enzinna after he entered an OA UCA campus office he had been banned from (and that he had agreed to be banned from)--i.e. that document was created and placed on Enzinna’s desktop because Enzinna both lied and broke the law:

 

“Fuck you disgusting cocksuckers.”

 

Yes, ladies and gentleman, the author of the above sentiment is the same Wes Enzinna who has recently been published in The Oxford American, Harper’s, and the New York Times Magazine and who is embraced by “interim editor” Warwick Sabin not only as a reliable whistleblower and reputable human being, but as the person Sabin entrusts to put out the current New South Journalism Issue of The Oxford American.

 

That’s Sabin’s modus operandi and idea of leadership and management: hire and harbor a scoundrel if he can help you--politically, financially, or strategically. I say strategically because Sabin needs Enzinna to keep this fantasy going. Once Sabin fires Enzinna, he proves that the ringleader of the case against Carol Ann and me (especially against Carol Ann) is the kind of person who needs to be fired.

 

My Brazen Prediction: There will be no firing of Enzinna but he’s gone soon. Enzinna will “resign” after the completion of the New South Journalism Issue. Enzinna will be given a very considerable severance pay…from Chairman Rick Massey.

 

THE NEW SOUTH JOURNALISM ISSUE

Even though our work with it ended on July 12 (a mere three weeks before its final deadline), Carol Ann and I deeply care about the fate of the “New South Journalism” issue. For one thing, the idea for this issue was mine (I’m passionate about what some of those New Journalism gods and goddesses of the 1960s and ’70s wrought). Also, Carol Ann and I, despite what you will likely hear elsewhere (as we can now predict), came up with the vast majority of the specific ideas and assignments for the issue.

 

That said, if “interim editor” Sabin and senior editor Enzinna pretend that everything in the issue came from their efforts in the few weeks preceding the final deadline, we won’t be shocked--and you shouldn’t be either.

 

The one thing Enzinna has done for the New South Journalism Issue that I will definitely give him credit for is that he’s un-rejected at least two pieces I rejected, including one by his best friend/ex-roommate James Pogue.

 

TO CONTRIBUTORS OF THE OA’S NEW SOUTH JOURNALISM ISSUE

Dear Contributors:

Please note that your work may be grouped with at least two articles that Carol Ann and I thought did not meet our publication standards. One piece I rejected for being too partisan and shrill in its politics; I rejected another for slippery and muddy argumentation, suspicious claims, and inaccuracies. Enzinna has since un-rejected these pieces. Your work is in their company.

 

RE: “Fuck you disgusting cocksuckers.”

 

And, yes, ladies and gentlemen, the author of the above line is also the same Wes Enzinna whom the “interim editor” Sabin has no qualms about allowing to supervise and work with unpaid, college-aged interns.

 

TIMELINE CONTINUED

6. Wednesday, July 11 (my birthday).

Rick Massey, the Chairman of The OA Board of Directors, reaches me on my cellphone to say that Carol Ann and I must show up the next day at his Little Rock office at 10:30 a.m. He conveys that the meeting is very serious and that we will understand everything the next day. I tell him we will be there.

 

7. Still July 11.

Shortly after I get off the phone with Chairman Massey, Carol Ann calls to inform me that five police officers have arrived at our office. The editorial offices, which were run by me, are on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway, Ark. The OA’s business offices, which are run by OA publisher Warwick Sabin, are in Little Rock.

 

Here is the entirety of a log entry from the UCA police on July 11 (published first in the Log Cabin Democrat print edition on July 13 and then online at the Arkansas Times and the Log Cabin Democrat). The only alterations are in brackets, where I’ve inserted the dates:

Oxford American employees are under an internal investigation Marc Smirnoff and Carol Ann Fitzgerald regarding inappropriate conduct…they were informed today [Wednesday, July 11, 2012] to meet with attorneys in Little Rock tomorrow [Thursday, July 12, 2012] Mr. Smirnoff was very upset and agitated and Mr. Sabin notified our department to assist in clearing the building…KIMMY MANNING from UCA Physical Plant was notified to come and change the locks on the doors ROOMS 106 / 107 / 108 HAVE BEEN CLEARED, STANDING BY FOR PHYSICAL PLANT. CAROL WAS LEAVING ROOM 107 UPON THE OFFICERS ARRIVAL / THEY ADVISED HER THAT THEY WERE THERE TO SECURE THE DOORS AND SHE LEFT SHORTLY AFTERWARD

 

Stuart Jackson, one of the lawyers hired by The OA Board, and clearly supervised by Chairman Massey and Sabin, confirms on Friday, July 13 at 4:27 p.m. that Sabin had contacted the UCA police department with the “information” that appeared in their report.

 

Sabin knows from experience that anything he told the UCA police, as a matter of routine, will appear in an official police log that will be quoted by the local newspapers.

 

Before becoming The OA’s publisher, Sabin was hired by UCA President Lu Hardin and installed as “associate vice president for communications”--in plainer words, Sabin was the school’s, and Hardin’s, publicist.

 

(In hiring Sabin, by the way, Hardin called him “an outstanding writer and politically astute." Hardin later pled guilty to fraud and money laundering and before his ouster at UCA was considered a “rising political star,” with a good chance at becoming governor.)

 

Regarding the “confidentiality” of the “investigation,” Stuart Jackson sent this e-mail to Carol Ann and me:

 

On Fri, Jul 13, 2012 at 11:36 AM, Stuart Jackson <wjackson@wlj.com> wrote:

 

Mr. Smirnoff and Ms. Fitzgerald --

 

During the meetings yesterday, you were directed that the investigation was to remain confidential and reminded that retaliation is strictly prohibited and unlawful.   While we understand your anger over the allegations made against you, it's clear under the law that you cannot retaliate against your accusers.  As the magazine's own harassment policy states, "Discrimination or retaliation against any employee for making a complaint under this policy or for providing information during an investigation is strictly prohibited, will not be tolerated, and is a violation of this policy.  Any employee who violates this policy will be subject to appropriate discipline, up to and including termination.  Any supervisor who knowingly permits harassment or retaliation to take place in his or her areas of supervision will be subject to appropriate discipline, up to and including termination."

 

You have the right to report, to the proper authorities, what you believe in good faith to be a crime.  However, you should not attempt to influence the statements of any witnesses, especially if a criminal investigation is to take place, through the unnecessary public disclosure of your allegations against Mr. Enzinna and Ms. Ellingson.  Such actions could be seen as retaliatory, and retaliation is a clear violation of Oxford American's employee handbook….

 

So let’s get this straight: Team Sabin, in the guise of Stuart Jackson, the lawyer/“investigator” whom Sabin and Chairman Massey are working with, is not only quoting to us what the “magazine’s own harassment policy states,” it--Team Sabin--is battering us with it.

 

Which raises two questions:

 

QUESTION A: If Team Sabin insists on a confidential investigation, why did Sabin himself, who is centrally involved in the confidential investigation, leak to the UCA police/local newspapers on July 11 the very names [“Marc Smirnoff and Carol Ann Fitzgerald”] of the two people at the center of the “internal investigation”?

 

QUESTION B: Why did Sabin have to go on to say that the “internal [and, lest we forget, confidential] investigation” involving “Marc Smirnoff and Carol Ann Fitzgerald” [lest, too, we forget those two confidential so-and-sos] were being investigated for “inappropriate behavior”?

 

It’s not enough to out Smirnoff and Fitzgerald as the suspicious suspects in an internal investigation, but Sabin has to add, on his own prompting (unless, of course, the cops were beating him silly for these words), that WHAT we are being investigated for (hey, local news readers will be curious) is “inappropriate behavior”!

 

In other words, Sabin, on his own accord, is delivering a bonus round of information contrary to the “confidential investigation.” (Unless, of course, the coppers are still smacking him around.)

 

SABIN’S UNILATERAL DISMANTLING AND TRASHING OF THE “CONFIDENTIALITY” AGREEMENT DOESN’T STOP THERE

To top it off, Sabin opines to the UCA police (and, thus, as he knows, the local press) that Smirnoff was “very upset and agitated.”

 

WARWICK SABIN’S FIRST PUBLIC LIE

In fact, Sabin did not speak to me on July 11, the day he called the UCA police to manipulate them into “securing” The OA office.

 

In fact, I have not spoken on the phone, or in person, to Sabin since July 10, when I called him with an at-length update on my ongoing problems with Wes Enzinna and Amy Ellingson. I had already called Sabin once or twice (I don’t remember which) earlier in the month with updates about the Enzinna and intern problems, but July 10, Tuesday, was absolutely the last time, as of this writing, that I spoke with Warwick Sabin.

 

Not only did Sabin NOT speak with me on the day he filed his false report to the UCA police, I was NOT in the office or even in Conway that day.

 

I was three hours--and about 160 miles--away in Fayetteville, Ark.

 

I have proof of this and thus the next reasonable question becomes, Why in the world would Sabin need to get police involved to “secure” an office from a physical threat who was not physically present in the office that was so threatened?

 

8. Still July 11, Wednesday.

In any case, it was not Sabin I spoke to; as I said, it was the new Chairman of The Oxford American Board of Directors, Rick Massey, who called me while I was in Fayetteville (and to whom I said I was in Fayetteville).

 

If Sabin meant to claim to the UCA police that he was merely passing along hearsay via Chairman Massey about my emotional state, Sabin should have clearly said so.

 

He did not.

 

CONCLUSION: Apparently, being the first OA’er to break the confidentiality agreement (on July 11) and misrepresenting important truths to the UCA police does not bother Sabin’s conscience or stop the allegedly impartial “investigator” Stuart Jackson from lecturing us about breaking the confidentiality agreement on July 13--two full days after Sabin himself was the first to break the confidentiality agreement.

 

The hubris! It’s almost poetic.

 

When I learned of Sabin’s false public utterance to the UCA police, I was not silent. I immediately e-mailed Stuart Jackson (and cc’d Sabin) more than once to complain about this over-the-top transgression. One example:

 

Friday, July 13 at 6:08 pm

 

Gentlemen,

 

In regards to Mr. Jackson's pointed comments about confidentiality, am I to understand that Mr. Sabin is allowed to initiate a violation of the confidentiality agreement while we the accused must endure a different set of rules? Mr. Sabin's biased and inflammatory and false public description of me is a clear-cut violation of the confidentiality agreement that you so strenuously invoke. I am confident that impartial observers will have a different analysis than yours on this point. And to me this is a very very very very very big point indeed. Hypocrisy and double standards seem to be at the core of this mess in one fashion or another. And I am beginning to have my doubts that you all see that. If you were me, you too would have these reasonable doubts.

 

Mr. Sabin's public abuse clearly constitutes a chronological paper trail. I demand that Mr. Sabin issue a full public apology regarding this point, but I reserve the right to consider such an apology legally insufficient.

 

Thank you for listening.

 

Sincerely,

 

Marc Smirnoff

 

To which Team Sabin and Stuart Jackson offered: no response.

 

SPEAKETH THE CHAIRMAN

But Chairman Massey did. Chairman Massey is not only a vegan, amateur poet, community activist, and leader of non-profit boards, he is skilled at distorting language for the good of whatever cause he chooses to support (both pro bono and for pay). Which is to say: he is a lawyer.

 

(An aside, by Smirnoff, on the danger of lawyers: First, I will grant that I am generalizing here and it is unfair for me to pretend, even in a generalization, that all lawyers can be painted with the same brush--so I won’t even try that. I’ll leave such artistry to Shakespeare and Dickens. But, generalization or not, I do truly think that many lawyers--too many lawyers!--deserve our contumely. And that’s because too many of them are bullies. Unfortunately, we ordinary citizens tend to overrate lawyers and to be unduly fearful of them. Yes, lawyers can hurt us, but I’m tired of the kind of fear they encourage that makes us stop doing what is right. They pretend they can do anything but they can’t. They can’t control or destroy what we should value most: our minds and our souls and our honor. I don’t mean to exaggerate their number but baddies exist and we ordinary citizens must stop kowtowing to the bullies and creeps of the legal profession.)

 

(We must remember that some lawyers are not what they pretend to be: They are not hired, for example, to find or defend the truth. They are not, that is to say, “independent investigators.” They are paid to defend their client, whether that client is a liar, a serial killer, a tax evader, a wife-beater, etc. It’s like the game of Battleship. Once you are assigned a color, your job is to kill the other color. If you are “red” team, you kill “white” team. There is no discussion in Battleship as to whether the “red” team is being invaded unfairly and treacherously by the “white” team.)

 

(Lawyers are paid to eviscerate the opponent. They are not paid to eviscerate lies. Or to find out the truth of a case. (That’s the judge’s or jury’s job.) They will even deny or distort truths if it helps win the game. Yes, lawyers are full of life and dress stylishly and eat at the best restaurants and are often very funny and charming and tend to know the funniest lawyer jokes--one of their best qualities--but, jeez, if you believe in heaven and hell, please be honest about where you expect many lawyers will end up. For now, I will just plead that you, my fellow earthlings, don’t be so frightened about what they can do against us. They can harm us deeply but they cannot harm us permanently.)

 

On July 19, Chairman Massey sent out a press release, which touched on the subject of the alleged confidentiality of the investigation:

 

“Although Mr. Smirnoff and Ms. Fitzgerald were directed not to talk to any employees of The Oxford American about the confidential investigation and to avoid retaliatory acts, they failed to follow the Board’s direction in that regard….”

 

In other words, Chairman Massey “forgot” to disclose, in his (signed) press release, this primary fact and truth: that the first person to break the confidentiality agreement was his main partner/handmaiden in the “FIRE SMIRNOFF & FITZGERALD” strategy: Warwick Sabin.

 

With regards to our breaking of the confidentiality agreement, Chairman Massey was referring to two text messages Carol Ann and I sent to our interns on July 12 and July 13, which dates come after--not before--Sabin first broke the confidentiality agreement and also lied about me to the UCA police on July 11. Here are the messages we sent:

 

July 12, 4:58 pm (Text from Marc and CAF to: 5 interns and 1 editorial ass’t)

 

Dear all, due to lies by Wes, Amy and [the fired intern], the OA board of directors has chosen to suspend Marc and me with pay until an investigation has been completed. This decision was made before we were given a chance to respond to the charges. We are sorry for our role in this development but ask that u look deep into your hearts to ascertain our deep and sincere regard and gratitude for each and every one of you. The lies will be discredited but for now there is pain and cowardice. Of course we turned down the board's offer to pay us during the suspension. And of course we miss you. Love, Marc and Carol Ann ps Marc's fone has been confiscated, feel free to reach him thru me if u want to.

 

July 13, 9:28 am (Text from Marc and CAF to: 5 interns and 1 editorial ass’t)

 

Dear all, Marc asked me to transcribe the following message to you: Dear colleagues, yesterday carol ann told me that on learning that Wes was no longer working at the magazine, Mike, our Old Main janitor, told her that he was glad because he had seen Wes [Enzinna] steal a lot of toilet paper and was convinced that Wes was the one vandalizing the Old Main toilets for a year and a half. Mike said that he had reported this to his supervisor. The idea of Wes as a toilet-paper thief first shocked us but is in fact totally believable. We take [allegations of] theft and destruction of other people's property very seriously, we also fear that Amy [Ellingson] may have known of Wes's [alleged] illegal actions. If any of you have knowledge about Mike's claims, please Lt. Jamie Boothe at the UCA PD at 501 450-3111. I know this is an embarrassing matter, but the truth must prevail. Thank you, Marc Smirnoff

 

WHY IS SABIN’S PUBLIC LIE ABOUT ME RELEVANT?

Many of us can guess what Sabin meant to imply about me when he lied to the UCA police by telling them I was “very upset and agitated.” He meant for the UCA police to perceive that my emotional state was very dangerous; he meant to convey that the safety of the public or of OA UCA property was at stake.

 

This was a tactic. By making up the story to the UCA police that I posed a real threat to either human beings or office equipment, Team Sabin could have conjectured that this was a way to win the hearts and minds of their audience even before I could defend myself.

 

Who, after all, takes lightly the presence of a “very upset and agitated,” soon-to-be-fired employee stalking the grounds of a university campus?

 

Who does not remember, or fear, the possibility of another “very upset and agitated” lone gunman going onto a college campus and shooting people?

 

These things happen and we know it and we fear them.

 

Fact: After being denied tenure at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, a professor on the campus on February 12, 2010, killed three faculty members and wounded three others.

 

Fact: Even our UCA police have had to deal with such ugliness. In sleepy Conway, Ark., peaceful UCA had its peace destroyed by an on-campus gun rampage that killed two students and left one wounded on October 26, 2008. (By the way, Warwick Sabin was the UCA publicist at the time of that tragedy.)

 

So, yes, when police hear from an “authority figure” that two people who are the focus of an “internal investigation” concerning “inappropriate behavior” are “very upset and agitated,” they act. The UCA police would be stupid--unfeeling--unprofessional--lethargic--not to. (And we don’t think the UCA police department is any of those things.)

 

That’s the real fear Team Sabin brazenly, cynically, took advantage of, and tapped into, when Sabin lied about talking to me, and lied about my emotional state, to the UCA police: that we were dangerous, unpredictable physical threats.

 

9. On Friday, July 20, Chairman Massey finally stepped out of the shadows and admitted to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that it was he who had passed along the opinion that he thought I “seemed [emphasis mine] to be upset” to Sabin. Massey’s hearsay of “seemed to be upset” was translated by Sabin, who took it upon himself, apparently, to kill the “seemed” and to add a “very” and “agitated” and then he took his distortion and passed it along to the UCA police (making sure not to tell them he was reporting hearsay, of course). Sabin’s message was recorded in the log by the UCA police and from there it soon appeared in print and online.

 

So what?, Team Sabin will counter. Who cares if it was Sabin or Chairman Massey who claimed to have talked with Smirnoff to the police? The main point is that Smirnoff was--to further quote Massey from the Dem-Gaz article--“name-calling, cursing, invectives and ranting back.”

 

Okay, we can try that on for size, but there is still a problem: I wasn’t very upset and agitated. Nor was I name-calling, cursing, (saying) invectives, and ranting back.

 

(Note: a few things in that last Massey quote: the redundancy of “name-calling” and “invectives” suggests a theatrical piling-on. The “ranting back” suggests, plainly, that Massey initiated some ranting.)

 

This is just more lawyering. I did not abuse Chairman Massey in the one-sided, overwhelming way he suggests. (Nor did I threaten him, other people, or property.) Yes, it was not a cheerful phone call. Yes, it was conveyed to me that the magazine I created and my twenty-year job--and Carol Ann’s job and reputation!--were facing serious threats and, yes, I objected to a stray idiotic or condescending comment or two that the Chairman made to me and, yes, I felt emotion and my tone was hard.

 

But it would be more suspicious if I had responded to Massey’s deathlike call with no feeling or pain.

 

I did not, however, scream, shout, or jump--which is what the phrase “very agitated and upset” suggests.

 

In fact, I have seen the Chairman and his pals in the Chairman’s private luxury box at a Razorback football game far, far more upset and agitated about bad plays by the Hogs (or bad calls by refs) than I was that day about my life and future. I have seen the Chairman and his pals go bonkers--over and over again--in a manner I would call extremely “very upset and agitated”: They screamed! They jumped! They shouted! (I seem to recall they even hit one another at times--playfully perhaps, but very, very emotionally---and broke things.)

 

By the way, Massey is known in business circles to be, at times, a hot head. Away from work, after some drinks, he is wont to go on about what an “asshole” he is. We have heard his “I’m an asshole” monologue in Conway, Little Rock, Charleston, New York, New Orleans, and elsewhere. (And so have others.) Carol Ann and I, together or separately, have spent not insignificant time telling Rick--that’s what I used to call him--that he wasn’t an asshole.

 

(But hell, maybe, after all, he was right and we were wrong.)

 

I too can be a hot head (though not, from what I understand, anywhere near as frequently as Massey). But there is only one thing relevant here and that is whether I was a hot head in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on the phone to Massey. And I wasn’t. And Massey knows that. But he must play his game. The game is either Battleship or “he said/she said.”

 

10. Why should I be believed?

 

After the hardship and anguish of having to fire an intern, and severely reprimanding Ellingson the web editor, and giving the fire-or-resign option to Enzinna the senior editor, I chose one day amidst the tumult and pain (and deadline) to take off to try to find some peace. And that day was July 11, my birthday, the day that Sabin claimed I was very upset and agitated. I chose to visit Fayetteville because I wanted to be surrounded by the serenity of the Arkansas mountains in the company of a close friend, and because I wanted to spend quality time at a lovely used bookshop there (good bookshops soothe me). All this--out of the office, near the mountains, with a friend, in the bookstore--I banked on being calming influences, and they were.

 

The first thing I said to my friend after getting off the phone was something like: “Well, they want me out and they want the magazine. And you know what? I just don’t have the passion to fight anymore.”

 

If I was very upset and agitated, my friend and our fellow diners and our waiter--the actual reliable witnesses to my behavior--did not notice.

 

The friend I was with in Fayetteville will testify as to my calm demeanor.

 

11. Isn’t it an irrelevant detail and tangent?

 

No. Some of us argue that God is in the details; others say: the Devil is in the details. Both disparate parties agree, however, that details count. (Kind of funny, ain’t it?)

 

Details, though small and often overlooked, have the power to convey crucial information and truths. Sometimes you can even add up the details to get the full story, just as the details that go into a house eventually make a house; sometimes when a controversy is murky and two completely different, emotional positions are being loudly argued about, you can find clarity and accuracy in details.

 

In any case, after Sabin’s public and libelous hearsay was exposed by me via e-mail to the so-called impartial “investigator,” Sabin should have been immediately removed from participating in this “investigation” for reasons of bias and gross misconduct.

 

After all, none of us wants to be represented or judged by somebody who is biased against us.

 

It’s that simple. Fairness is that simple.

 

But instead of seeing Sabin as the biased railroader that he was, The OA Board not only absolved him of conflict of interest, they embraced him and gave him the very job of the person he’d helped them to investigate and oust!

 

Sabin and Massey’s “very upset and agitated” language was so obviously prejudicial that it irrevocably tainted the entire “investigation.”

 

Any reasonable person who read in the matter-of-fact UCA police log--such an authoritative and impartial source!--that I was “very upset and agitated” and needed to be subdued or cordoned off by UCA police had to conclude that I was guilty of everything that anybody wanted me to be guilty of.

 

For this transgression--tainting the “investigation”--Sabin and Massey should have been removed from the “investigation,” or, even, really, fired.

 

If you think it is too extreme for me to say the duo whose mishandling affected other lives should have been fired (hey, we were fired!), I will counter by saying both men, as palpably honorable people, should have at the very least recused themselves from any role in the “investigation.” Failing that, maybe Stuart Jackson should have pointed out that, Uh, Houston, we have a problem. But apparently that was not relevant to an “independent investigator”….

 

MORAL: In “internal investigations,” power belongs to the most cunning.

 

12. Anyway, let’s try to return to the timeline, if we can: July 12, Thursday.

Carol Ann and I arrive at Chairman Massey’s Westrock Capital Partners offices at the appointed time. The Chairman directs us to a conference room and tells us that we will be asked serious questions by “investigators”/lawyers hired by The OA Board (at, we presume, Chairman Massey and OA publisher Warwick Sabin’s urging).

 

Hit pause for brief Chairman Massey intro.

 

Massey is a lawyer (and a former colleague of Hillary Clinton’s at the Rose Law Firm) who has told Carol Ann and me and others that he now specializes in buying banks. He is a multi-millionaire.

 

He is also Sabin’s intimate OA ally.

 

He was also a very close friend to Carol Ann and me, or so we believed--until July 11, when his icy tone on the telephone told me very clearly that we were no longer friends (and made me doubt, abruptly, whether we ever had been). That was quite a jolt because Carol Ann and I both spent significant time with the Chairman: trips on his private jet (including one visit to St. Louis for a Cardinals game that was a birthday gift for his father-in-law and to which he warmly invited me); outings at his “barn” in Little Rock; and those late nights when the two of us debated a long-running favorite inquiry of his--whether human beings have souls (he votes no; I vote yes). In fact, Carol Ann’s surprise birthday party last year was held at Massey’s barn (at this surprise party there were OA staffers, including Sabin, and OA interns, and, yes, liquor was served). Massey has also been to our Conway house (Carol Ann and I live together) for a casual gathering of locals and OA staffers (including OA interns) and where, again, liquor was consumed by many, including the Chairman but not me (I remain steadfastly but boringly sober). I’ve spent hours playing with his dogs.

 

NOTE: The names and contact info of witnesses to the Carol Ann/Massey Barn Surprise Party and the Massey Visit to Conway Party, and some other shindigs, can be provided if requested. (Sabin and his fiancée/OA employee Jessica DeLoach have been to our Conway house, as have current OA’ers--Ray Wittenberg, Kathleen King, Walker Beauchamp, and Tammy Gillis--when booze and OA interns commingled. OA Board member Rex Nelson once attended an OA Fourth of July party at Ray Wittenberg’s dad’s house where, again, OA interns and booze were intimate.)

 

De-activate pause button and return to: July 12.

 

So we are in Chairman Massey’s office. My former friend--how quickly I must say that!--and I do not shake hands. Carol Ann and I had decided that we would be as calm and peaceful as we could be--and we seem to be doing all right in sticking to that aim. Massey, though, seems agitated if not upset with me (meanwhile, he’s very solicitous of Carol Ann). At one point, I calmly ask Massey a snarky but relevant question (I can’t remember what I asked, but I did have a few questions for him before we met with his “investigators”) and, suddenly, red-faced and grimacing, Massey unleashes on me:

 

“MARC I CAN HAVE YOUR FUCKING ASS THROWN OUT OF MY OFFICE RIGHT NOW IF YOU WANT THAT!”

 

Carol Ann and I both hear this, of course. He is screaming and he is not five or six feet away from us so it would impossible not to hear him--and not to be startled by his volume and redness. It is likely that others in the office heard this as well. It is unlikely that others in the office will admit they heard this as well. The best Alpha Males know how to get their people to toe the company line.

 

I know that I am apt to be very defensive. It’s something that has bothered me for years. The smallest criticism against my person will cause me to defend myself--sometimes logically, sometimes fairly, but sometimes irrelevantly and rashly. At this moment, though, when my future and my twenty years of sincere work at The Oxford American are clearly beyond my jurisdiction, and where the reputation of sweet, honest, gullible, profound, loyal Carol Ann will shortly be ripped asunder by the lies and gutter-snipings of inferior jackals, I am, oddly, calm. I am almost serene.

 

So, beatifically, I don’t respond to Massey’s anger with any heat of my own and he suddenly seems very foolish. He composes himself and does not throw me out of the office. The corporate atmospherics of Westrock are sterile and I’m not grooving on Massey’s vibe--and maybe that’s why I am serene: I don’t care if I’m not there.

 

That said, after such an outburst, Massey should, of course, recuse himself on the grounds of bias from participating any further in this “investigation.” But, of course, he does not.

 

Massey says that Carol Ann and I will be asked questions in separate rooms by separate “teams.” Carol Ann’s team will consist of OA publisher Warwick Sabin and an attorney whose name I didn’t catch but that I think is Ms. Kim. Carol Ann didn’t quite catch her name either (we weren’t thinking about names) and we never have any further correspondence with her. Carol Ann and I both have intense further correspondence, though, with “my” “investigator” Stuart Jackson.

 

Before entering the Westrock chambers, Carol Ann and I made a solemn pledge to each other: We will answer all questions honestly--even if our answers embarrass or hurt us or cause us to be mocked or reprimanded or worse.

 

That means I did admit to serving alcohol off-campus to minors and using--brace yourselves--G-rated innuendo in both my office and outside-world banter.

 

(Let me be explicit: Though I am an incessant joker and teaser--please don’t say clown!--I do not use explicit language in my banter. My talk, at worst, is PG-rated. There are many witnesses, from many years, for all this.)

 

13. With regards to serving alcohol to minors (i.e., interns under the age of 21 but over the age of 18), I confessed my guilt.

 

The following is no legal defense, but it is something of a moral defense and it is not irrelevant so I will mention it. I once boozed like a wannabe weekend Bukowski. But since either 2002 or 2003 (I forgot which year, believe it or not), I have not had any alcohol in me and, as an ex-boozer, I’m actually a good person to supervise drinkers. For one thing, on my watch, I don’t let intoxicated people drive or engage in dangerous or foolish behavior.

 

Here we must mention that there was a recent public Oxford American event that involved booze and underaged drinkers: There are witnesses who can testify (and photographs that show) that the two OA minors who drank alcohol at my house (along with another OA minor who was not at my house) were also served alcohol at the business office of The Oxford American on Saturday, June 2, 2012, at a party in conjunction with the Little Rock Film Festival held under the direct supervision and leadership of Warwick Sabin. (If you work at The OA, or are on its Board, you know full well that the Little Rock office is Warwick’s baby. He lords over it and recently secured a $290,000 NEA grant specially for it.)

 

Those three underaged OA interns were not the only underaged drinkers at Sabin’s party that night. From Mike Poe, a Sabin political volunteer who was hired to assist the OA/Film Fest party, we know that two underaged young men who had been enjoying the booze at the party (like the other minors, they were not carded) later allegedly tried to steal some of it. Poe told me that Sabin stepped in to confront them and prevent the theft. Mike Poe can supply the names of these two minors (he played me a threatening phone message from one of them); Poe is friends with their employer.

 

From what we can discern, the fact that Carol Ann and I served alcohol (illegally but responsibly) to two underaged interns at our house has a great deal to do with why we got fired.

 

For our wrongdoing, Carol Ann and I lost everything.

 

Yet when Sabin coordinates and supervises a public OA Party where the same two OA interns, plus an additional underaged OA intern, drink booze under his watch (and which was much more boisterous and uncontrolled and raucous than anything that’s ever happened at our house), nothing happens?

 

Sabin not only goes unpunished for a crime that we think might have cost us our jobs, but he wins the support and love of The OA Board of Directors--and my job.

 

This is the justice of a “thorough internal investigation”?

 

This is the justice of an alert and caring Board of Directors?

 

14. With regards to sexual harassment: NO.

 

For all my foibles, serious and otherwise--which include patting and rubbing the heads of interns I am especially close to and trust, hugging them at times, sometimes hoisting them up (publicly and comically), occasionally touching feet or arms or shoulders, shooting portraits of them (I just began contributing photo essays to The OA website)--I have NEVER sexually harassed an intern (or employee) at The Oxford American.

 

NEVER.

 

Neither has Carol Ann.

 

Repeat: NEVER.

THE 27 HOURS GIVEN TO US TO DEFEND OUR CAREERS AND HONOR

At 9:05 a.m. on Friday, July 13, we were told by Sabin via e-mail that we would have until noon the next day, Saturday, July 14, to provide our defense. He wrote:

 

You and Marc should send me any documents you would like the board to consider during this investigation by Saturday at noon.  This would include any statements you would like to submit from outside witnesses.  Feel free to e-mail those statements to me.  Thanks.

 

I immediately objected in this way:

 

Dear Warwick,

How dare you give us only till Saturday at noon to respond to these incredibly deceitful and tricky charges?

 

We will respond to them and get you and the board all documentation and witnesses as soon as possible but not necessarily by your impossible deadline.

 

We have a right to defend ourselves thoroughly and you have absolutely no right to interfere with that by imposing an unfair deadline on us.

 

And I'm willing to take legal action against you personally if you impede in any way our right to fully defend ourselves. If you want me to repeat myself, I'll send this email to you again.

 

Please forward this message to Rick Massey and anybody else on the OA board and your lawyers.

 

Sincerely,

Marc Smirnoff

 

To this e-mail Team Sabin did not respond.

 

Of course, Chairman Massey did.

 

MORE SAYINGS FROM CHAIRMAN MASSEY

In his July 19 press release, Massey had this to say about the 27-hour deadline: “Mr. Smirnoff complained about the deadline but did not say what information he would be able to develop if given more time.”

 

More unbelievable sophistry. More high-paid distortion.

 

As you can read for yourself from the only e-mail we ever received about the deadline, Sabin never asked “what information I would be able to develop if given more time.”

 

So, once again, Massey “destroys” an argument we never made.

 

Still, I don’t even mind playing with that fake argument. What would I have said HAD Sabin asked me, “What information would you be able to develop if given more time?”

 

I would have said: “I don’t know, you charlatan. For one thing, you banned us from searching for evidence on our computers and at our office. You have banned us from facing and questioning our accusers. But we do know that we want more time to try to investigate what we think the charges could be and we want more time to investigate the motives and actions of the people we think are accusing us. And we want access to our computers and to the office.”

 

WE ARE FIRED

Sunday, July 15, 2012.

Carol Ann and I were fired from The Oxford American via e-mail from Sabin:

 

From: Warwick Sabin <wsabin@oxfordamerican.org>

Sent: Sunday, July 15, 2012 12:38 PM

Subject: Notice of termination

 

Dear Mr. Smirnoff:

 

The Oxford American's Board of Directors held a Special Meeting today to discuss the results of a factual investigation concerning a complaint first initiated on July 7, 2012.  At the conclusion of the meeting, the Board of Directors unanimously voted to terminate your employment effective immediately.  This week I will provide you with a letter providing additional details regarding the separation of your employment.  We can also make arrangements for you to retrieve any personal items from the office.

 

Sincerely,

 

Warwick Sabin

 

--

Warwick Sabin

Publisher

The Oxford American

P.O. Box 3235

Little Rock, Ark. 72203-3235

 

Tel. 501-374-0000

Fax 501-374-0001

 

We can only guess whether the Board considered that the complaints against us might be the weird, calculated, desperate, and retaliatory tactics of three disgruntled employees.

 

We can only guess if the “investigators” “thoroughly investigated” the extensive documentation and many specific details we provided in our defense (in our little window of opportunity to save ourselves) from Friday, July 13 on--and even past the Saturday, July 14 deadline at noon. (If they did, they are superhuman in their ability to be “thorough” in such an insanely short time.)

 

For all we know, the Board heard nothing of our responses to the attacks of disgruntled employees.

 

And remember: Because we have never seen a copy of the “report,” we have no idea whether the “all-important” “report” of the “internal investigators” was competent or fair or accurate. We don’t know how the report was edited and whether Jackson’s or Kim’s notetaking (neither used a tape-recorder) was sloppy or precise or intelligent.

 

Finally, we don’t know if the Board members read the report--or, if they did, if any of them had questions that only we could answer.

 

Perhaps the only people who offered comments at the secret Board Meeting about Carol Ann and me were Sabin and Chairman Massey--the very two characters who should have--at the very least--recused themselves from this “investigation” and “hearing.”

 

We don’t know.

 

THE WORST OF IT ALL, part one

Because I have been betrayed in the past by people I regarded as friends, I was not all that surprised by the penetrating abuse or overwhelming silences we got from some people we thought were friends.

 

Because Carol Ann has never been railroaded, or abused in such a public and grotesque manner, she couldn’t guess that from July 12 on her pains would increase--not just by the false accusations--but mostly by the betrayals of people she had considered close, trustworthy friends.

 

When she cries because she suddenly remembers some other friend who hasn’t reached out to her through e-mail or Facebook or a call, there isn’t much I can say to soothe her other than: some people betray their friends quickly, but some, thank God, do not.

 

MY OWN FINE FRIEND

Take Warwick Sabin, The OA’s publisher and new “interim editor.” Since 2008, I have worked with him ceaselessly and intimately and we’ve gone through much together. For whatever inevitable differences we’ve had, I always regarded him as a true friend and ally.

 

Yes, I did.

 

Silly/stupid me.

 

EXAMPLE OF OUR STUPID FRIENDSHIP

When Carol Ann and I jointly sent $100 to Sabin’s campaign to elect himself as a state representative--we kept getting generic e-mails from him asking for “support” (i.e. money)--I told him, in an e-mail, that he had caused me to break a life-long vow to never give money to a politician but that I did so this one time out of friendship.

 

PERSONAL NOTE, REGARDING DONATING TO POLITICIANS

There are 10 principles in my life that I vowed never to break:

 

MARC’S PERSONAL LIST OF THINGS HE WILL NEVER DO

1. (Since 2002/2003:) Never have another drink

 

2. Never pay for sex

 

3. Never try meth or crack

 

4. Never buy a video game

 

5. Never sexually harass anyone

 

6. Never publish the word “eclectic” in a music review

 

7. Never publish a photograph of a beat-up truck covered in kudzu

 

8. Never visit a strip club

 

9. Never watch “The Matrix”

 

10. Never give money to a politician

 

Damn, damn, and dang. I feel so dirty because I broke one rule on My Top Ten Live This Way for Life List and that was Number 10 and I sold out on Number 10 because I thought my friendship with Warwick Sabin demanded it.

 

PERSONAL NOTE TO WARWICK SABIN

Dear Sabin, we are unemployed now and, coincidentally, disgusted by you. Please send us a personal check valued at $100 to replace the $100 we donated to your political future. You have our address.

 

P.S. When you win the election in the fall, which title will you list first in The OA masthead next to your name and triple-digit status: Publisher or Editor or Public Servant?

 

SABIN’S IDEA OF FRIENDSHIP

Though he is the love of my life, Sabin has not once asked me for my version of the events in question.

 

Until I heard the “investigator’s” questions on July 12 and heard, in between the lines, how Sabin had played me, I regarded Sabin as my most trusted ally, which is why I spoke at least twice to him, maybe three times, from July 6 to July 10 about the problems I was having with Wes Enzinna and Amy Ellingson and the intern. (Primarily, I spoke about Enzinna.)

 

Sabin seemed to listen carefully and merely told me he had full faith in how I would handle the problems and just requested that I keep him posted. I said I would and I did.

 

NOTE: Although Sabin knew of the July 7 complaints filed by Enzinna and Ellingson and the intern, he never, of course, said a peep to me about them.

 

NEW QUESTION

What does it tell me that my main partner and supposed ally at the magazine would not be interested in what I had to say about the complaints against me and would hear and only act on--and act rashly!--the other side of the story, the side of the story that cast Carol Ann and me as booze-peddling sexual harassers?

 

INEVITABLE ANSWER

Whether it’s because he sincerely believed the false charges against us to be true, or whether it’s because he saw Trio Enzinna’s false complaints as a perfect storm that would allow him and Massey a sweet, new opportunity to control the magazine, I cannot say.

 

But either scenario proves Sabin undeniably pre-judged Carol Ann and me.

 

And to pre-judge is the future state rep’s idea of justice and integrity?

 

COULD THERE BE SINCERITY OR HONOR IN TEAM SABIN’S PRE-JUDGMENT OF US?

Yes.

 

Why?

 

It’s possible that Team Sabin operated so swiftly--so rashly--in judging us and firing us simply because Team Sabin sincerely believed the false charges by the three disgruntled employees (which must’ve shocked them) were honest and accurate.

 

Sabin and Massey could have reasoned things this way: Nothing in the world could cause three independent, healthy, youngish Americans to file complaints on the same day against their boss and the managing editor except the truth. We must act!

 

ANOTHER POSSIBILITY REGARDING BOARD BEHAVIOR

1. In our Post-Sandusky, Post-Paterno World, we need Boards (especially Boards that Are Linked to Universities and Young People) to protect the innocent and to avoid cover-ups.

 

2. Boards need to be aggressive, rather than stagnant, in evaluating and taking seriously complaints made by lower-ranking people against their higher-ranking colleagues.

 

3. Carol Ann and I agree that Sabin and Chairman Massey were duty-bound to take the complaints against us seriously.

 

We also must point out that UCA has suffered a recent history of seemingly very weak Boards supporting seemingly very weak presidents while those presidents were involved in big scandals.

 

The last two presidents to leave UCA--Lu Hardin (Sabin’s former boss) and Allen Meadors--both resigned under cover of scandal.

 

NOTE: The current president, Tom Courtway, is regarded by many as a man of character and honor precisely because it doesn’t seem he wants the job or power or privileges that he has.

 

A RUSH TO RASH JUDGMENT

The failures of the UCA/Penn State boards prompted Sabin and Massey to decide that their joint leadership of the Board would not coddle wrongdoers.

 

When you consider that Sabin, in addition to his Oxford American duties, is currently running for a political office, you realize that how he appears to deal with scandal is not insignificant to his ambitions.

 

So, we conjecture, Sabin and Massey decided they would lead and inspire The OA Board not to dawdle or hedge their bets, but to act quick and be hard in dealing with the scandal before them and its villains.

 

In fact, under their joint leadership, The OA and its Board would be so decisive and authoritative that there would not be any reason to involve UCA, its partner and editorial host, or other authorities, in this mess.

 

CONCLUSION: If the people busted and smashed by a company’s internal network are, indeed, guilty of the crimes they are punished for, then swift and hard action does, we agree, demonstrate leadership and a company’s integrity and skill at managing itself. It is welcome when justice is swift and decisive…if, of course, the accused are, in fact, guilty.

 

If the accused are guilty.

 

If.

 

If.

 

If.

 

If.

 

If.

 

THE WORST OF IT ALL, part two

Of course, having the magazine I created in 1992 snatched from me causes a special pain.

 

I should, I am told, at least take sustenance in knowing that what I created (and then worked on with the gigantic efforts of many noble partners and colleagues and believers and artists!!!) is now coveted by lawyers and moneymen.

 

I should be tickled that scoundrels now roll up their sleeves to labor on, and froth over, something I made and which they clearly did not have the brains or creativity to make on their own.

 

I should rejoice, I am told, that dream-stealers and cynics must now follow my blueprints and editorial vision--or perish.

 

Okay. I can be infantile; there is some trivial satisfaction in thinking about my creation being my opponents’ love. But…mainly, I worry that Team Sabin’s “Business As Usual” strategy of telling everybody that all is well in OA-land will fool good people into believing that the current managers are guardian angels who have goodness in their hearts, sweetness in their minds, and depth in their eyes.

 

ALWAYS SHAMMING

Parse Sabin, dig into him, and you hit…the shallows.

 

In a recent article, Sabin said that The Oxford American would survive the loss of its founder (me) because, after all, The New Yorker survived the loss of its founder (Harold Ross).

 

Now that he’s “interim editor,” I guess he feels the need to attempt a literary analogy.

 

The difference is that Ross died on the job and he did not die with arrows and daggers in his backside. And his death was mourned, not cheered. And he was not mutinied upon by fake-friends and rich, power-greedy Board members; he was not humiliated and lied about in public. His girlfriend was not destroyed simply because she was his girlfriend.

 

DESTRUCTION AND PAIN: IS THIS FUN OR WHAT??

On July 22, we sent two texts to Rick Massey. The first read, in part:

 

We know we can't beat your lawyers and money and we won't try. We will simply ask that Warwick change the name. Love, Marc and Carol Ann

 

The second text, below, referenced (A) an idea we heard from a lawyer of floating a peace pipe over to Team Sabin and (B) rumors that a New York Times reporter was about to visit Arkansas to sink into the controversy.

 

Dear Rick, word on the street is that our lawyer might be proposing a peace treaty next week--we kinda think it might be spat on but you know how lawyers are... If such a thing were amenable, too bad it couldn't happen before the New York Times visit. I hope the barn is still beautiful. Hopefully, Carol Ann

 

Massey texted back these two messages in quick succession:

 

[1] If your 'peace offering' is for us to change our names, my counterproposal will be that you and Marc change your names to Jim and Tammy Fay Baker.

 

[2] Is this fun or what??

 

Fun? So that’s what corporate takeovers have to offer. I never knew.

 

THE WORST OF IT ALL, part three

The real worst, though, happened when senior editor Wes Enzinna charged Carol Ann with sexual harassment. It’s that charge that we think was used to fire her.

 

The incident of “sexual harassment” occurred in New Orleans on Saturday, October 8, 2011, when Enzinna and Carol Ann went out for drinks after representing The OA at an event there.

 

ABOUT CAROL ANN FITZGERALD

Carol Ann is utterly brilliant and sometimes utterly naïve. People who know her know exactly what I mean by this.

 

For example, despite her penetrating knowledge of literature, people can still trick her. She is very gullible, in other words, a trait, I think, that often reveals a big heart. Until that night with Enzinna in New Orleans on October 8, 2011, Carol Ann had not had a tequila shot. You would think that a writer and editor in her forties, like Carol Ann, who had a New York art and publishing career before arriving in Arkansas to enliven The OA, had experienced a tequila shot or two. Certainly, if I had claimed to have never downed a tequila shot in my life, you would not believe me. But, dang, if Carol Ann says it, you know, it’s--somehow!--true. (I actually don’t know if I ever drank tequila. It wasn’t my beverage of choice, but there were nights that I got so blotto that I can’t be sure I didn’t drink the blood of a newt.)

 

Anyway, during that October night in New Orleans, Carol Ann told Enzinna that she’d never tried tequila, so he proceeded to order: tequila after tequila after tequila. And the two of them got toasted on the stuff and Enzinna talked loudly and publicly about x-rated sex and, later, as they stumbled down Bourbon Street at 2 or 3 in the morning, Carol Ann flirted with, and made a pass at, him. Enzinna responded by saying to Carol Ann that if he started to kiss her, he wouldn’t be able to stop with just a kiss. So they stopped. Then he said, I’m hungry! Buy me some food! Let’s find a place to eat!

 

I know it was embarrassing for Carol Ann to have her mistake dressed-up as a charge and for it now to be discussed in public and here. But it happened and she admitted it. That’s her character.

 

But the salient point is that just because Carol Ann has admitted to flirting with Enzinna and making a drunken pass at him, does NOT mean that Enzinna honestly thought this was “harassment” of any kind or that it posed any real threat to him or affected him in any way at the magazine. Nor does it mean that he did not himself frequently violate numerous statutes in The OA Handbook in his treatment of her. (Carol Ann concealed his aggressive and obscene behavior from me because friends don’t rat on each other.)

 

We can also guess that after the Bourbon St. incident, Enzinna did not spend nights tormented and alone in an unlit closet, tearing at his beard and scratching at his skin, and screaming and wailing as he replayed over and over the Torturous Drunken New Orleans Night in October 2011 When Carol Ann Flirted With Him. O the terror! O the void!

 

He probably either laughed off the pass--or stored it in his cunning head for future use.

 

If Enzinna had suffered from that October 8, 2011, night because of Carol Ann’s foolish flirtation, he would not have continued to nurture and take advantage of their friendship in the same boisterous way he did before October 8. But he did.

 

And it must be emphasized, again and again, that Carol Ann considered Enzinna her best friend and their tight friendship continued along zestfully after October 8, 2011: They remained inseparable: they still worked hard and late together (I have always been amazed by Carol Ann’s work ethic and I have not said that Enzinna shirked work); they still ate lunch almost every day together; they still went out to eat and drink together; they still texted each other incessantly; he still taunted and jeered her in private and public; he still besieged her with crude stories about himself and his sexual predilections; and Carol Ann--despite making only $40,000 a year for all her years at the magazine (Sabin never gave her a raise)--still loaned Enzinna money* and bought snacks and groceries for him, and so on and so on.

 

[*He still owes her the $220 he borrowed from her to fix, he said, his car, and another $9.99 for using, without her knowledge or permission, her i-Tunes account to download an audio book called Doing Time: The Politics of Imprisonment.]

 

So, yes, the best friends behaved like best friends up until July 5 and July 6, 2012--when Enzinna and Carol Ann sent their last texts to each other.

 

Oh, and what were their last texts about?

 

Remember, please, that July 6 was the very same day that I had that hour-or-longer Come to Smirnoff meeting with Enzinna in which I severely reprimanded him for his misconduct at the office (and elsewhere) and told him he would have to choose between being fired or resigning.

 

Enzinna knew that I was going to have a serious meeting with him on July 6 because I informed him of it the day before, in almost those very words.

 

Enzinna on July 5, I later learn, is jumpy and anxious. But he, being Enzinna to the core, is also…cunning.

 

Here first is the entire transcript of texts between Enzinna and Carol Ann (CAF) on July 5. In the first one, CAF is giving Enzinna advice on how to behave in the Come to Smirnoff session the next day.

 

CAF: Be transparent. You understand, right? tomorrow

ENZINNA: Ok. Can we touch base by phone tonight/in a little bit?

CAF: Scared to

ENZINNA: Why?!

CAF: Marc request

ENZINNA: Well, things are about to get real bad, real quick! Yay! Thanks for the tip, though...that's helpful.

CAF: Real bad real quick: what do u mean?

ENZINNA: You need to call me!

CAF: Ok--I'll call u in a second--I'm at Krogers checkout

ENZINNA: Ok thank you please do...I'm stressing pretty hard/not feeling positive

 

So, as indicated above, she calls him. And this July 5 call is the one that Enzinna, sly dog, records. It is also the very call that Massey, in his language-abusing press release of July 19, refers to as “a voice recording” when he says: “The investigation also took into account relevant text messages, a voice recording, and Mr. Smirnoff’s and Ms. Fitzgerald’s own admissions.”

 

A voice recording!

 

QUESTION: WHAT’S ON THE VOICE RECORDING?

Since Sabin first broke the “confidentiality” agreement of the “internal investigation,” on July 11, we considered the “confidentiality” agreement null and void on that date. And since Carol Ann and I texted the interns two days later and then released our own public statements, and since here we are here speaking forthrightly in public again, and since Chairman Massey himself can both admonish us about breaking the confidentiality agreement while doing so himself (in a press release no less!), we suggest the following: The confidentiality agreement is…officially dead.

 

This controversy is now a public matter.

 

There is also no more “investigating” going on from The New Anti-Oxford American. (As Stuart Jackson said in a Thursday, July 26, e-mail to us: “The investigations our firm was hired to handle have been completed, so I do not expect to have any further involvement in this matter.”)

 

For these reasons we make the following request:

 

Chairman Massey and Honorable Members of The Oxford American Board: Carol Ann Fitzgerald and I hereby request that you release the entire contents of the “voice recording.”

 

If the July 5 recording is made public, this is essentially what will be heard on it:

 

A. Enzinna and Carol Ann discussing Enzinna’s insubordination and dire job predicament.

 

B. Carol Ann advising Enzinna--who she clearly does NOT want me to fire--to tell me how he resisted her in New Orleans because she thinks it will prove his loyalty to me and thus save his job.

 

[It would not have. Because she’s not very cunning, she’s not much of a strategist.]

 

C. Carol Ann considering whether she should leave when her friend (Enzinna) is fired. (Some friends, like Carol Ann, are loyal.)

 

The point is: Carol Ann wants to save her best friend’s job and is willing to sacrifice herself to help!

 

That’s it. The smoking gun that is the Massey/Enzinna “voice recording.”

 

SEXUALLY HARASSING WES ENZINNA

“The Oxford American’s Employee Handbook,” which Team Sabin claimed to be abiding by in their “internal investigation,” is emphatic about the following point:

 

“If you believe you have been the subject of harassment by anyone, including supervisors, officers and co-workers, vendors or customers, you should immediately report the problem to the Publisher.”

 

As we know, Enzinna did not report the “problem” of Carol Ann’s October 8, 2011, “sexual harassment” of him “immediately,” but waited nine months to do so--waited, in fact, until July 7, the day after I had given him the option of being fired or resigning.

 

Repeat: Enzinna did not report the “problem” of Carol Ann’s October 8, 2011, “sexual harassment” of him “immediately,” but waited nine months to do so--waited, in fact, until July 7, the day after I had given him the option of being fired or resigning.

 

CONCLUSION: Enzinna, you cannot be trusted. Because you used a nasty fake charge to annihilate a gullible woman who treated you as her best friend--and did all she could to try to help you--including sacrificing herself in your time of need--you can be accurately labeled many horrible things, including disgusting and foul.

 

But it’s just as disgusting and foul that anybody with a conscience or a brain would believe—or pretend to believe—such a sloppy, reckless, base liar.

 

And yet that’s precisely what Sabin and Massey have done: they have believed the unbelievable lies of Wes Enzinna. And now they embrace him and harbor him and rely on him to lead the current New South Journalism Issue to the printer.

 

Or: Maybe they didn’t believe his lies; they just liked his lies because it helped them achieve something they wanted--or that they just suddenly learned they wanted. And that was: they could get the magazine if they got rid of Carol Ann and Marc.

 

Is that why they wanted to get rid of me and Carol Ann?

 

I can only speculate. Maybe you, or somebody else, should ask them. Certainly nobody on our ineffectual, uncaring Board thought to grill Sabin or Massey about their motives or actions. Certainly nobody on our ineffectual, uncaring Board thought to scrutinize the motives and actions of Sabin or Massey. They just embraced Sabin and Massey who embraced Enzinna who embraced Ellingson who embraced the fired intern…and who knows who will get the next embrace?

 

PROOF THAT THIS MAN ENZINNA WASN’T SEXUALLY HARASSED

For somebody who seems to be claiming to have been oppressed and debilitated by a tipsy pass of nine-months vintage by a woman skinnier and smaller than him, Enzinna’s treatment of Carol Ann before October 8, 2011, during October 8, 2011, and after October 8, 2011, sure seems mighty crude and sexual.

 

Carol Ann shared details of Enzinna’s violations of OA policies with Team Sabin’s “investigators” (who ignored them) and now with other authorities (who we hope won’t).

 

ONE VIOLATION, ONE FINGER

One violation that The OA Employee’s Handbook strictly forbids is the act of one employee giving “the finger” to another employee. The fact is that Enzinna routinely gave Carol Ann the finger (in and out of the office; at OA events; and just about anytime she took his photo). Enzinna was extremely careful not to let others see this behavior--this finger--even if people were in the immediate vicinity. (Dude’s cunning.) Below is a photo of Enzinna and his finger. Many more such photos were on Carol Ann’s office computer but Team Sabin took her computer (and no doubt deleted those images). We have additional photos of Enzinna and his finger available on request.

 

DIRTY TEXTING

Below are some verbatim texts from Enzinna to Carol Ann. These samples (we have more) constitute proof that Enzinna was not behaving like somebody who had been truly sexually harassed by the person to whom he was texting. You see him here in all his grime and spite; you see him sexual and demanding--it seems he’s everything but fearful of, or intimidated by, his supposed “harasser,” Carol Ann.

 

These texts are unedited and even when Enzinna texted just one word or two or three, he proved, I think, something of a master of abusive and misogynistic haiku.

 

January 8, 2012

10 pm

Enzinna: Maybe I’ll but [buy] your fatso ass another dinner…if I feel you’ve earned it. My hunch is that you have.

 

January 23, 2012

9:15 pm

Enzinna: Fat lazy ass!

 

February 11, 2012

3:02 pm

Enzinna: Humping

 

February 13, 2012

1:30 pm

Enzinna: Ride my pony?

 

February 13, 2012

11:14 pm

Enzinna: Suck one!

 

February 14, 2012

8:20 pm

Enzinna: Damn right! Sexy time!

 

February 21, 2012

5:28 pm

Enzinna: You mean, wrestle it into submission, just like I did your mama!

 

February 24, 2012

11:16 am

Enzinna: Yo, just got mags from blabbermouth ray [Wittenberg, OA advertising executive]! Running minute late

 

March 1, 2012

5:37 pm [At the AWP Conference in Chicago. About a reading by a female writer]

Enzinna: Sexy

Enzinna: For a grandma, I meant

Enzinna: Who writes a lot about incest

 

March 26, 2012

9 am

CAF: I have doc @ 10:15

Enzinna: Okay. I have an Asian massage w/ happy ending at 11!

 

March 28, 2012

7:30 pm [about a piece by Enzinna’s former roommate James Pogue]

CAF: Marc seems to think he should take over the piece-but that prob ain't necessary

Enzinna: That's fucking retarded. As is the fact that he would even suggest that w/o talking to me That's just idiotic. And insulting, actually

 

March 30, 2012

series of messages from 7:27 to 8:00 pm [about an OA event the night before in New Orleans; CAF is in Arkansas; Enzinna is in New Orleans]

 

CAF: so no one driving w u?

Enzinna: Ha, hell no...do you wish you were my co-rider? I guess I do wish I had a co-rider...but not really. Gonna see Vanessa, I sort of love her...tho she's married...or BECAUSE she's married...dunno

CAF: Did Marc have a good time do u think?

Enzinna: I didn't really talk to him at all...I think he had a really good time tho. He talked to Caroline rash [a current OA intern who introduced herself to me, Smirnoff, at the event] a bunch...who is REALLY cute. Lets sign her up!! But I think mas [Smirnoff, my initials] had a good time

CAF: She’s good too right?

Enzinna: Yeah, she LOVES the OA... And is smart...and really cute..

Enzinna: Also! I flirted with amy [Ellingson, OA intern at the time; now web editor] a bunch. And I think she's gay! Ie by "I think" I mean she sorta suggested she is. But you CAnNOT tell marc! I don't even know if its true

CAF: Y flirt w her?

Enzinna: I mean, in that way that I always I do with girls...

Enzinna: I fell in love with a hot Russian girl last night…almost made out wth her…and she was Josh Clarke’s girlfriend!

Enzinna: He would beat my ass!

 

NOTE 1: Regarding the above texts from March 30, 2012. “Amy” is Amy Ellingson, who was then an intern and these texts refer to the night before when, at an OA event in New Orleans, I accidentally saw Ellingson and Enzinna touching each other very intimately. I guessed immediately that the two were having an affair and when we were all back in Conway a few days later, I asked them both about it. Both of them lied and said that I had misinterpreted whatever I thought I had seen.

 

In fact, Enzinna knew I had seen them and--point Enzinna!--he simply outmaneuvered me by telling Carol Ann the day after I saw their intimate exchange that he thought Amy Ellingson was gay. He knew (in the Biblical and other sense) that Amy was not gay, but he got us all to believe or at least consider that she might be, which meant, of course, that she would never be consorting intimately with a male senior editor named….

 

The expert touch here is Enzinna telling Carol Ann that “you CAnNOT tell marc!” And: “I don't even know if its true.” Some people are Natural Kings of Lying.

 

NOTE 2: Enzinna’s and Ellingson’s senior editor/intern affair did not end up being the innocent private relationship between consenting adults that, to this day, the two claim it was. Their lies made it into the office every day, in one form or another, and caused discomfort and tensions for colleagues, and even might have cost another intern a possible promotion.

 

TO WIT: When Ellingson’s internship expired so did another intern’s and I was torn by the decision of which of them to hire as a possible web editor. (We had the means for only one of them.) When I am confident about my decisions, I will act solo without consulting anyone. But when I am torn, as I was in this case, I will ask my managing editor and senior editor to advise me. In the matter of Ellingson v. the other intern for the web editor post, I asked Carol Ann and Enzinna to analyze the two candidates and send me their analyses. Almost immediately, Carol Ann and I received a very long and passionate and praise-filled recommendation from Enzinna that thunderously campaigned for Ellingson. What he didn’t mention was his intimacy with her; in fact, he pretended to professional impartiality and made it sound like he barely knew her and only from a distance--but that her work shined. (The other contender, meanwhile, he dismissed in a single sentence.)

 

At the time, I still trusted Enzinna and it is fair to say that Enzinna’s staunch enthusiasm played a role in my selection of Ellingson for the post.

 

March 30, 2012

8:15 pm

Enzinna: Haha, gonna bone some married women tonight...I hope. Gnite, you fool!

 

April 3, 2012

2:12 pm

Enzinna: Hole

Enzinna: Gun in my khole

 

April 6, 2012

6:57 pm

Enzinna: For the record, you suck.

CAF: Sourpuss! What is it u want me to do? U r not making sense!

Enzinna: Oh, I don’t need anything from you. Except to not hear the weenie ass negative wimpy non-risk taker who doesn’t support those around her naysaying. I’m just trying to do SOME thing lively. It’s cool you have no desire whatsoever to be supportive

 

April 11, 2012

4:54 pm

Enzinna: You fucker!

 

April 18, 2012

10:58 am

Caf: where u

Enzinna: Dentist, dumb ass! You didn't read your email!? Back in a bit. Gotta go, I gotta finish filling out my paperwork now! Damn right.

 

April 21, 2012

 7:15 pm

Enzinna: Yeah, im working. But i need a walk! If i walk to your house, Will you take me to zazas?!

 

April 26, 2012

7:27 am

Enzinna: Hey I feel like ass gonna be lil late today And by "ass" I mean, couldn't sleep all night. Hadnt happened in a couple months.... Gimme some sleeping pills!

CAF: Aw poor thing

Enzinna: Poor thing?! I've got more energy when I'm tired than you do after a 15-hour nap!

CAF: Wrong

Enzinna: Rhymes with

 

May 5, 2012

9:06 pm

Enzinna: Yo fool, did you go to Joey Lauren Adams?

Caf: [Deleted] is name of street U didn't come did u?

Enzinna: I just came, elsewhere, if you know what I'm saying! Ha!

 

May 6, 2012

12:33 pm

Enzinna: We'll see, gotta try to hook up with [female writer] again

CAF: Get walker [Beauchamp, OA editorial assistant] on it He horse-whispered a wild horse last pm

Enzinna: I hear [female writer] likes younger men

 

May 13, 2012

1:15 pm

Enzinna: Hey gonna be there ina bit, by 2pm…right when weenie Tom [Martin, our designer] gets back from brunch with his mommy poo

 

May 22, 2012

10:29 am

CAF to Enzinna: Getting office supplies!

Enzinna: Hope they’re edible

CAF: 1 track mind

Enzinna: Edible weenies

 

June 2, 2012

12:57 pm

Enzinna: I gotta talk to you bout something else too tho! But did staff/interns fuck up or lazy ass Warwick?

 

June 13, 2012

1:34 pm

Enzinna: I sat in your chair while you were gone

CAF: Uh oh

Enzinna: Oops, I meant "shat" not sat

 

June 22, 2012

8:06 pm

Caf: I feel like I'm being strangled!

Enzinna: O well Some people like that

 

June 26, 2012

1:42 pm

Enzinna: Ha! If you give me $$$, I'll go out and get lunch. Or just buy me lunch

 

HOW TO BEHAVE WHEN YOU LEARN SOMEBODY HAS BETRAYED YOU

In his July 19 press release, Chairman Massey mocks Carol Ann by saying that her “allegations [against Enzinna were] first made during her interview with the investigators.”

 

Chairman is taking a truth and abusing it through false emphasis to make his opponent, Carol Ann, look as bad as possible and his client, Wes Enzinna, look as good as possible. There’s courtroom adeptness in what Massey is doing here, but no honor.

 

The simple fact is that it was “during her interview” that Carol Ann first learned Enzinna was charging her with sexual harassment. It was “during her interview,” therefore, that she realized the extent to which she had been betrayed and duped and that Enzinna’s “funny teasing” of her actually contained real loathing and malice. In short, she suddenly learned that Enzinna had concocted a fake “sexual harassment” charge not only to save his job but to kill her career.

 

Her response was to immediately provide a few of the innumerable sordid details of their relationship, which would show Enzinna was lying, including some of what Enzinna had been mum about but which was key to what really went on between Carol Ann and Enzinna.

 

You could say that Carol Ann was dumb for thinking Enzinna was her friend instead of her dupe--I do.

 

But you cannot imply that Carol Ann is a liar simply because she did not start to reveal how Enzinna abused her until she learned the sinister extent to which Enzinna had abused her.

 

When Massey writes, in that press release of his [he and Sabin must have met in former lives as publicists], that “[n]one of the witnesses substantiated Ms. Fitzgerald’s allegations that she had been sexually harassed by the co-worker [Wes Enzinna],” he is repeating another lawyer trick of dismantling an argument that wasn’t even made: Carol Ann has never claimed there were witnesses to Enzinna’s sexual harassment of her.

 

In fact, she had told the “investigator” that she and Enzinna usually worked alone in the office and when they hung out outside the office they did so alone. Those texts Enzinna sent to Carol Ann were not cc’d to anyone else.

 

So, yes, no witnesses equals no witnesses. Was that penned insight of Massey’s free of charge or did he bill The OA his hourly rate?

 

ME AND ENZINNA

At the very start, I liked Enzinna okay, but quickly began to dislike him. Carol Ann did try to change my mind about him but I wouldn’t budge. I told her that I respected his efforts and some of his OA contributions, but that didn’t mean I had to hang out with him.

 

Eventually, though, I began to have trouble with his work. His sloppiness in editing and fact-checking, for example, had a lot to do with why we let our long-time All Star columnist Hal Crowther leave the magazine. Enzinna’s ineptitude caused us to lose other fine writers, too (including another OA regular, who described him in a statement as arrogant, difficult, unstable, and unprofessional).

 

I also began to notice Enzinna’s exhausting pattern of evasiveness, which manifested in a number of ways, including his inability to answer a simple question simply. As a debater and editor, he was the king and queen of footnotes, asides, bottom-feeding, and ponderous theory. He used vapors and mist to hide from the concrete.

 

Worse, I isolated Enzinna’s misconduct and then tried to forget or forgive it as soon as possible. A few hours after a reprimand, I’d pull him aside or pop into his office and let him know that though I stood by the reprimand he shouldn’t take it too hard; he should just bounce back and learn from his mistakes. Enzinna caught onto this pattern and after one Smirnoff reprimand in late June, he told Carol Ann to watch how I’d come crawling back and say something nice to him later that day. And, sucker that I am, I did.

 

When I finally started connecting the dots of his misdeeds, I was horrified by the picture that emerged. There is more to say elsewhere about him and I have and I will.

 

For now, I’ll say that if anyone should be fired from The Oxford American for improper, if not predatory, conduct with interns: it is Wes Enzinna. After lying almost every day for over six months to fellow interns and colleagues (one of whom was Amy Ellingson’s roommate) about their senior editor/intern coupling, the two admitted to it, reducing the matter to one of “privacy” and “consenting adults.” I now talk about their “private” relationship because the two of them--and Sabin and Massey and The OA Board--have hypocritically and cruelly gone after Carol Ann and me for far more innocent behavior.

 

And I still can’t stomach a recent memory involving Enzinna and interns. Not too long ago, Mary Marge Locker, a current OA intern, and I were shooting pictures at an outdoor Shakespeare play when we walked over to a crowded nearby restaurant where we found Enzinna and Carol Ann having drinks (see, they kept hanging out together after October 8, 2011). After Mary Marge and I sat down, Enzinna, clearly drunk, began talking very loudly and meanly about another intern who he was sure (via intuition) that all the other interns hated. I tried to change the subject but he only came back louder:

 

“You just don’t like the fact that you aren’t the only with intuition! And you don’t like that I’m right!”

 

Though the damage was done, I rose from my seat and asked Mary Marge to join me outside for more photographs. The fact that a senior editor would trash another intern in front of an intern disgusted me profoundly and even though Enzinna later blamed it on his drinking, I think that moment was when I began to slowly but surely connect the dots. (I would later learn that it wasn’t “intuition” that gave Enzinna the idea about that intern but another intern who genuinely apologized to me for saying that. Such an apology never came from the senior editor.)

 

HOW SABIN DEALS WITH THE MISCONDUCT OF ALLIES

So “interim editor” Warwick Sabin not only decided to keep Enzinna and Ellingson in employment, he has given them supervisory roles with interns at the New Anti-Oxford American.

 

But what is seen by Warwick Sabin as right may not, we think, be right for the parents of current or future interns. So as part of our mission to decrease the corruption of Sabin’s New Oxford American, we have initiated complaints about this situation with authorities beyond the “jurisdiction” of The Oxford American’s “internal investigators” and its gullible Board.

 

WHAT A MAN?

I don’t know what kind of man Wes Enzinna is. (I have some theories…..) But I do know that when I see him again (and I have not since July 10), it will be very hard for me not to slap his face just for all the pain and torment he has gifted to Carol Ann. But, of course, I won’t. A slap could cause such a fragile flower as he to collapse forever and I don’t want to be jailed for the downfall of a delicate, submissive petunia. I’ll just wait for some other breeze to take him down.

 

THE NEW EDITORS OF SABIN’S NEW ANTI-OXFORD AMERICAN MAGAZINE

When I worked beside him, it was easy enough to focus on Warwick Sabin’s strengths and ignore his flaws. After all, his political and business strengths, and penchant for social-climbing, helped him as a publisher. I simply learned that a publisher who is superficial can be effective if he is also highly intelligent and Sabin is.

 

But that begs the question: Should a brainy person afflicted by superficiality run a literary magazine?

 

I’ll be direct.

 

NO.

 

This analysis, however, matters little to the gullible, sycophantic OA Board, which has named Warwick Sabin “interim editor” of The Oxford American, a single act that is ten times more despicable than any beer- or foot-handling that might have occurred in all my forty-nine years. (Funny, but I picture Sabin, like Richard the III, first humbly refusing, then humbly accepting The Board’s “interim editor” coronation.)

 

The very act of Sabin becoming “interim editor” suggests that his pushing me out was not inflamed solely by his sense of do-gooding but by a conflict of interest: his desire to control both the business and editorial sides of the magazine.

 

I.e., he wanted my job.

 

As a politician, Sabin surely believes, or will say so if he’s polled, that our nation must vigilantly operate by separation of church and state.

 

Unfortunately, his actions show that he does not believe the same for his Oxford American fiefdom where his self-serving bridging of the gap between The OA’s church (editorial) and state (business) constitutes the flushing of The OA’s amazingly loyal and astute readers straight down the john.

 

HIS BACKGROUND

Sabin’s “media” past is emphasized as a qualification for his new role. He was an intern at a foreign affairs magazine, he wrote political columns for a weekly in Arkansas, he was a publicist for the politically ambitious UCA ex-president Lu Hardin, and he is currently running as state representative for Little Rock’s wealthiest district.

 

But “media” and “political” are not synonymous with “literary.”

 

Sabin has never once evinced, never once, in all the times we shared and talked, any interest in or knowledge of literary content. He never once spoke of a novel or poem or a literary sentence that had moved him. Sure, he understood the political and social implications of what Carol Ann and I decided to publish--he knew, or could be told, when some author had the kind of “status” or secular “fame” that could be used to advance our business affairs--but neither I nor you, if you have met him, have ever felt a passion, a sincerity, a vision from him about literature--especially, Southern literature.

 

SABIN AND SOUTHERN MUSIC

In a Conway newspaper, Sabin was recently quoted as saying this about the New Anti-Oxford American’s next Southern Music Issue: “Our challenge is to thoughtfully and deeply explore the music of Louisiana, in order to unearth hidden treasures and introduce our readers and listeners to people and stories they otherwise would never know. As we have proven over the years, that is what The Oxford American does best, and we are up to the challenge.”

 

Sabin’s facile “we” crap goes too far. In all our years of working together, Warwick Sabin had absolutely nothing at all to do with the content of the Music Issues and the CDs. I never once solicited or accepted ideas from him--never. I never even gave him previews of what was in the Music Issue or CDs. He had to wait, like subscribers, until they were manufactured. Under our agreement, such control--such separation of church and state---was absolutely my right and I held onto it for dear life (must’ve been some kind of premonition).

 

Sabin lacks knowledge or interest in music writers and has, in my view, a rather vapid interest in music itself. (For all I know, a Shaun Cassidy poster lines his closet.) But that’s my opinion. His lack of participation in any OA Music Issue and CD--until, apparently, now--is fact. Cut the “we” claims, baby.

 

The person Sabin has hired to “Guest Edit” his (I cannot say: The Oxford American’s) Music Issue is a harmless enough chap named Alex Rawls. Alex is keen and knowledgeable about Louisiana music and after I met him in June in New Orleans, he began sending me a slew of pitches. But the guy, however well-meaning (and ambitious), is, let me be gentle, not a literary writer. The OA Music Issue--the real OA, I mean--is not just about one thing (music) over another thing (writing), it’s about both and all: a gumbo (a good one), to use the cliché.

 

Sabin’s one-note choice for “Guest Editor” is telling. It is a harbinger for how Sabin plans to “guide” and “manage” the editorial affairs of the magazine I created: with tin ears, with blinders (so as not to deal with literary prose), and dully and safely.

 

OUR DEMANDS

If we had fire in our eyes and battering rams in our grips, our manifesto would end with a list of demands. Alas, we have requests. Here they are:

 

1. We request that The Oxford American Board of Directors acknowledge the obvious: that in kowtowing to Sabin and Massey’s “internal investigation,” which rushed wildly and superficially and destructively to judgment, the Board blessed a catastrophic mishandling of serious charges and real lives. Through Team Sabin’s urging, The Board allowed lies and liars to be protected, truths to be silenced, and basic rights to be crushed. It’s possible that Team Sabin’s farce irrevocably damaged the magazine’s spirit--and future. It’s questionable whether Massey’s money is enough to save The Oxford American.

 

2. Carol Ann Fitzgerald and I request (A) a copy of the report of the “internal investigation” against us, (B) a list of the charges against us, (C) the names of all our accusers, (D) a list of the final reasons that caused us to be fired, (E) the right to speak before The Board in our defense.

 

3. We request that The Oxford American Board of Directors ignore the findings of Sabin and Massey’s patently flawed and corrupted “internal investigation” and kick off a new and truly independent investigation that is not monitored, or led, or interfered with, by OA’ers subsumed by personal bias, animosities against the accused, indefensible coddling of the accusers, and obvious conflicts of interest.

 

4. Fire Wes Enzinna and Amy Ellingson. (Some of the reasons to do so are listed within this document.)

 

5. Fire Warwick Sabin and Rick Massey. (Ditto.)

 

6. Conduct a hearing for the intern I fired and who Massey later invited back to work at the magazine. We request the right to question her in front of The Board or an impartial tribunal so that we can present and question upwards to ten witnesses who, we are convinced, will corroborate our charges against her and dismantle any claims of “sexual harassment” she may have said (and invented) against Marc Smirnoff. (Note: The fired intern is not a minor and we therefore have the right to name her. We have decided not to do that yet. We also reserve the right to file a complaint about her behavior to the out-of-state university that sent her to us.)

 

7. Since it is something else now, we request that the name of The Oxford American be changed. If you keep Sabin, we suggest: “The Anti-Oxford American” or “Sabin’s Silly Slander.” If you keep Enzinna, we suggest: “Wes’s Enzinna.” If you keep Massey, we suggest: “Massey’s Doublespeaker.” If you keep Ellingson, we suggest: “Wes’s Enzinna.”

 

8. Fire some of yourselves, Board members. Your crimes: collusion and gullibility and lethargy in the magazine’s time of need; allowing too many monstrous mishaps to occur with your tacit blessings; a lack of guts and the inability to stand up to power. At least half of you (or more or all) need to scram, ASAP. Since The Board’s conduct has been generic there is no need to waste time in debating who’s more or less valuable than whom; you all can decide your fates by picking straws or flipping coins.

 

9. Increase the salaries of the editorial team. In allowing Sabin to decide how much money each Oxford American business or editorial employee got, Sabin proved himself to be an uneven sharer of resources and the Board trusted him too much and gave him too much power. For example: Since Sabin and Smirnoff were always regarded as full equals and partners in the running of the magazine, why did Sabin pay himself $70,000 $82,000 [in 2010, according to the IRS] while paying Smirnoff $50,000? Why didn’t Smirnoff ever get a raise in eight years? Why did Fitzgerald, who has a track record of working more hours at the magazine than anyone else, get $40,000 from Sabin (and also no raise in eight years)? Why did Sabin pay Dave Anderson, a part-time employee (filmmaker) $55,000--a full $5,000 more than the full-time editor?

 

Besides all that, everybody else in the editorial team deserves higher, fairer pay than they currently receive--and Sabin less. Also: The editorial interns deserve to be paid.

 

10. Have a pretend burial for me. I would like a simple gravestone with this epitaph (from a favorite source) carved into it: “Everything happens to me and now I’m shot by a child.”

 

OUR FEELINGS

Because we love The Oxford American and gave it and our colleagues our all, Carol Ann and I are still roiling over what we lost and how we lost it. Writing this long document, which was both time- and soul-consuming helped us learn more about what exactly happened, or likely happened, to us and the magazine. But even that knowledge doesn’t stop the roiling--or pain and sadness. It’s hard to leave a thing and people you love--especially when you are forced to leave in the cheap, dastardly way that Team Sabin manufactured for us.

 

THE FUTURE OF MAS AND CAF

As of today, Monday, August 6, 2012, as we try to make the last tweaks to this very long (but still incomplete) accounting of What Happened to Us in Our Last Days at The Oxford American, we simply haven’t had much time to think about what we are going to do next.

 

We definitely feel the need to recharge and revitalize ourselves and so we hope to find a way to spend six months to read and write and reflect.

 

We also know that some sort of publishing venture will start to take shape after those six months. We have some very tentative (but rather thrilling) ideas and hope to use the next six months--along with reading and writing--to think on, and play with, them.

 

We have also just launched a website that, while very rough, should, for now, be an effective way for us to post news that may be of interest to people interested in Carol Ann or me or the original Oxford American. (This document, for example, will shortly be posted on our website.) Mainly, the site will serve as a stepping-stone into and inspiration for our future. It is there that we will eventually say more about what precisely we are going to be doing.

 

The site address is: Editorsinlove.com

 

WILL WE BE RELOCATING?

We are currently dreaming about a number of places we might want to relocate to. If you, or anybody you know, might wish to encourage us to consider a place that would be conducive to our next literary project (or our six months of reading and writing and reflecting), please, please, let us know. Just keep in mind that we are poor and must consider only the most feasible and encouraging ideas.

 

SAYING THANKS AND GOODBYE

This is the hardest part. In the grand scheme of things, though, we know we are lucky. And no matter what has just happened to us, we will always be very grateful for all that we were able to do in and with our magazine. We will always be thankful for all the good people we knew and worked with and met and never met. Readers, friends, and contributors, you meant the world to us and we are so utterly and forever in gratitude for all your support and kindnesses over the years that there is no way we can really say what we really feel. But it was your interest and care that kept us fully alive in our mission and we thank you for allowing us that honor.

 

We also thank you for any kindnesses that you bestow on us or others. We thank you for any fairness that you give to us or others. We thank you for your sweetness or light and the love you give to us and to others.

 

Thank you all, thank you, thank you all for everything you’ve done, for both of us and for the magazine.

 

Truly,

 

Marc Smirnoff

E-mail: Godisinthedetails1@gmail.com

Founder, The Oxford American

Now at: Editorsinlove.com

 

With co-writing and editing and factchecking and the full approval of:

Carol Ann Fitzgerald

E-mail: carolann.fitzgerald@gmail.com

Ex-Managing Editor, Art Editor, The Oxford American

Now at: Editorsinlove.com

 

Special Thanks to: S.K.S.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Team Sabin has still not allowed us access to our work computers even though their “investigation” is officially over and even though our work computers contain many personal contacts that are available to us nowhere else. Because we no longer have access to the e-mails that we collected and used over the years, there are many other people we would have sent this document to if only we could have remembered their e-addresses or found them elsewhere. Friends, please feel free to send this document to any good writers or artists or media people you think might wish to hear from us in this way. Please do your best to avoid passing along our defense to haters. We know the hating will start up again soon, but we wish for the longest reprieve possible, even if it is only for a few days. Thank you.


PHOTOGRAPHS 

OA Senior Editor Wes Enzinna's finger
OA underage intern with beer at Warwick Sabin's OA party, June 2, 2012
OA Publisher and "Interim Editor" Warwick Sabin
OA Board Chairman Rick Massey

OA Senior Editor Wes Enzinna's "funny" Facebook page (which he shared with Carol Ann, along with countless ribald stories about his "inspiration" for the page)





The Oxford American Board of Directors

 

Chairman: Rick Massey

E-mail: richard.massey@westrockcap.com

 

Peter Banko

E-mail: pdbanko@stvincenthealth.com

 

Russell Dallen

E-mail: rmdallen@aol.com

 

Randy Fertel

E-mail: randy@fertel.com

 

Lisa McNeir

E-mail: lmcneir@uca.edu

 

Rex Nelson

E-mail: rnelson@arkindcolleges.org

 

Patricia Riddlebarger

E-mail: driddl1@entergy.com

 

John Rogers

E-mail: info@johnrogersarchive.com

 

Warwick Sabin

E-mail: wsabin@oxfordamerican.org

 

Ruth Whitney

E-mail: rwhitney@inveritasinfo.com

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