Fired (and resigned) journalists extract literary revenge on their former bosses.

Media criticism.
June 6 2011 6:57 AM

"I Would Have Loved To Piss on Your Shoes"

What Mark Schlueb and other fired or resigned journalists wrote to their bosses on the way out.

Person cleaning out their desk. Click image to expand.

If you're not filled with contempt for your boss, there's either something wrong with you or you're a working journalist.

Reporters and editors like to think they don't have bosses, believing almost to a one that they answer to a higher authority, namely "Journalism." The guy who signs their checks? A paper-pusher. The people who try to give them orders in the newsroom? Subhuman obstructions to ignore.

Only when a journalist is fired or quits does the complete fury he feels for those quacking mallards who have made his life miserable begin to surface. Instead of verbally venting after getting sacked, the smart journalist takes a road trip and works through his anger by killing chipmunks and other small game. Only greedy, slightly stupid journalists accept severance packages. They almost always come with do-not-disparage clauses, which are known to cause cancer in journalists.

Some journalists settle the score with their "bosses" immediately. But my favorites are those who take weeks, months, or even years to settle the score with the institution or individual that they think tormented them. In honor of every journalist who flipped the boss off on the way out the door, I've collected a few of their best kiss-off notes and gestures from the recent past. If, after reading, you don't turn in your badge and burn every bridge and causeway behind you and fill with sewage every tunnel and viaduct that connects you to your former place of employment, I've failed in my mission.


Here goes!

"It's been a rough few years here, mainly because of the jackasses in Chicago who own us. To them I say, with as much gusto as I can muster in an email, fuck you."
Dan Neil, upon leaving the Los Angeles Times for the Wall Street Journal, February 2010.

 "Jesus spent three days in Hell. … I could only handle one."
Richard Morgan, who quit after one day, January 2008.

"My ill-starred tenure at New York magazine was, among other things, a crash course in the staggering unselfawareness of Manhattan class privilege. … [T]here was the sashaying mood of preppy smugness that permeated nearly every interaction among the magazine's editorial directorate—as when one majordomo tried to make awkward small talk with me by asking what it was like attending an urban public high school, or when another scion of the power elite would blithely take the credit for other people's work and comically strategize to be seated prominently at the National Magazine Awards luncheon."

"Go ahead and talk amongst yourselves, masters of the universe—and let your therapists-manqué at New York transcribe your every mawkishly aggrieved word. Every phony social revolution needs its Joe the Plumber, after all—and Messrs. Moss, Sherman et al fit the bill nicely. Watch the decibel level, though—it turns out that a lot of people went to public high school, and they're pretty fucking sick of the sound of your voices."
Chris Lehmann, four years after leaving New York magazine, April 2009.

"It is just sort of a pathology on Mort's part. … He just couldn't stand Fallows making the magazine his own magazine. ... The bottom line is that Mort has been sabotaging his own magazine, and it's been sickening to watch." 
Timothy Noah, while still (temporarily) on the payroll after U.S. News & World Report owner Mortimer Zuckerman sacked the magazine's editor, James Fallows, June 1998.