David Chalian is the Washington bureau chief for Yahoo who last month floated that weak and mysterious story asking if Antonio Villaraigosa was poised to become the first Latino president. Today he was fired by Yahoo for something wholly unrelated: during a break on a webcast about the Republican convention, he said on a hot mic that Mitt Romney and his wife Ann were blase about Hurricane Isaac hitting New Orleans: "They’re not concerned at all. They’re happy to have a party with black people drowning.” Yahoo's statement via Jim Romenesko:
David Chalian’s statement was inappropriate and does not represent the views of Yahoo!. He has been terminated effective immediately. We have already reached out to the Romney campaign, and we apologize to Mitt Romney, his staff, their supporters and anyone who was offended.
The conservative site NewsBusters.org caught the Chalian remark on a video broadcast by ABC and Yahoo. "Perfect example of the pervasive anti-Republican bias Mitt Romney faces in his bid to unseat President Barack Obama," wrote the site's creator, Matthew Sheffield.
Chalian has had nothing to say on Twitter yet today about the incident or his firing. There has been some interesting reaction in the political media suggesting Yahoo was overly rash in its discipline. Online pundit Dan Gillmor seemed to be addressing the Chalian firing when tweeted, "Either we're all going to cut each other some slack for stupid things we say, or we're all going to become dull drones." Also Ben Smith of BuzzFeed: "Nobody is more skittish, and more eager to throw people overboard, than news organizations. Ugh."
Adam Nagourney, the New York Times bureau chief in Los Angeles who was chief political correspondent of the paper previously, adds on Twitter: "[Chalian] said something awful, but he is a 1st-rate journalist, terrific person and classy guy. His many friends are thinking of him."
By the way, after my post in July about Chalian's speculative story on Villaraigosa and the presidency, a reader who has worked in City Hall noted a relationship that may explain the story: Villaraigosa press secretary Teddy Davis, the source says, used to work for Chalian in the politics unit at ABC News.
Chalian photo from his Twitter profile