Goodloe Sutton, publisher of the Democrat-Reporter newspaper, discusses media coverage of his controversial editorial in Linden, Ala., on Thursday February 21, 2019.
The African-American woman who took control of an Alabama newspaper that once called for the Ku Klux Klan to “ride again” has stepped down because of continuing interference from the paper’s previous leader.
Elecia Dexter, who replaced Goodloe Sutton as publisher and editor of the Democrat-Reporter in February, told The New York Times on Friday that she was stepping down to maintain her “integrity and well-being.”
“I would have liked it to turn out a different way, but it didn’t,” she told the newspaper. “This is a hard one because it’s sad – so much good could have come out of this.”
Sutton, 80, sparked outrage around the country when he penned a Feb. 14 editorial calling for “the Ku Klux Klan to night ride again” to clean up Washington, D.C., from “Democrats in the Republican Party and Democrats (who) are plotting to raise taxes in Alabama.”
‘I don’t care what they say’: Editor who called for KKK to ‘ride again’ won’t back down
He drew even more backlash when he doubled down on his comments in an interview with the Montgomery Advertiser.
“If we could get the Klan to go up there and clean out D.C., we’d all been better off,” Sutton told the Advertiser. “We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them.”
Once a lauded newspaperman, nationally acclaimed in the 1990s for his and his wife’s work in bringing down a corrupt local sheriff, Sutton’s peers in journalism stripped him of past commendations after his comments were published. State leaders resolutely condemned his comments and editorials, and local residents decried the way Sutton was representing the area to the rest of the world.
Sutton, who has worked at the paper since 1964, inherited the publication from his father. He handed over control of the Democrat-Reporter to Dexter on Feb. 21 but retained ownership of the paper.
Dexter was chosen to succeed Sutton in hopes that she would move the paper “into a new direction,” according to a press release from the Democrat-Reporter.
She told CNN that Sutton sent out an altered version of the Feb. 28 issue of the paper featuring a story defending his controversial editorial and attacking the Advertiser’s reporting. Dexter also accused Sutton of interfering with Thursday’s paper, the network reported.
“The decision to accept the role of Publisher/Editor of The Democrat Reporter was an honor and I have no regrets,” Dexter wrote in a statement obtained by CNN. “I am not discouraged; healing will come to the wonderful and loving people here.”
Contributing: Melissa Brown and Brian Lyman, The Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser
Follow N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg
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