Not even a reprimand first, huh? Here’s hoping, at least, that some White House water-carrier like Media Matters threatened the paper with a boycott before it acted. It’s too depressing to think that the publisher might have canned him on his own initiative, without any pressure from the pretend-outrage industry, just because Johnson got a step too close to a Johnny Paycheck song title in writing about Bambi.

Alternate headline stolen from Ace: “‘Free Press’ not so free.”

Free Press editor Drew Johnson has been terminated after placing a headline on an editorial outside of normal editing procedures.

Johnson’s headline, “Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough,” appeared on the Free Press page Tuesday, the day President Barack Obama visited the city.

The headline was inappropriate for this newspaper. It was not the original headline approved for publication, and Johnson violated the normal editing process when he changed the headline. The newspaper’s decision to terminate Johnson had nothing to do with the content of the editorial, which criticized the president’s job creation ideas and Chattanooga’s Smart Grid. The Free Press page has often printed editorials critical of the president and his policies.

He violated the editing process? That’s not what Johnson says:

There’s more where that came from on his Twitter feed, where he mentions that he’s getting married in two weeks — something that must have been known inside the paper but evidently didn’t deter them from exacting the death penalty instead of suspending him for a few days. And of course, as usually happens when the Internet notices that someone’s paid a steep price for his political leanings, people on Johnson’s side are rallying to him. News of his firing is linked on Drudge as I write this; he’ll be on Glenn Beck’s Blaze network tonight at 6 p.m. too. With any luck, some righty media outlet will snap him up before the week’s out.

Exit question: Since when are Tennesseans shy about telling Obama to shove it?