New State House news service fires reporter for online racial comments

Various media outlets have reported that Leif Parsell, a reporter for The Maine Wire, a new State House news service affiliated with the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center, has been let go after less than two months on the job.

According to the blog The State of Maine, Parsell has made a series of comments over the last several months that seem to question the value of racial diversity. More comments attributed to Parsell emerged later in the day on Tuesday, some of which appeared to support white supremacy.

Lance Dutson, CEO of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, provided the following statement after numerous blogs uncovered Parsell’s comments:

   As a core voice for the promotion of prosperity and liberty in Maine, The Maine Heritage Policy Center is extremely proud of our role as a leader in the public policy discussion in our state.

  Earlier today, it came to our attention that a recently-hired staffer had engaged in online discussions that were completely out of the bounds of our value system. MHPC is a strong advocate for the liberty and prosperity of all Mainers, and we deplore the concept of race-based politics. Though these comments were made prior to his employment with our organization, the rift between our value system and those expressed in this pattern of online behavior is significant enough to require an end to our employment of this individual.

   It is unfortunate that we were unable to identify this core difference in perspective earlier, but we are thankful to the bloggers who brought this to our attention. As we aspire to a higher standard in our political discourse, and as we work toward a deeper level of scrutiny of our public officials, there is nothing more critical than holding ourselves to those same high standards.

Parsell sent his own statement Wednesday to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

“This morning I was the subject of anonymous attacks regarding my political opinions. I
have been described in vicious terms as a “racist” and/or white supremacist. These are
ridiculous characterizations indicative of the poor political discourse in the state at this
time,” Parcell wrote.

The Maine Wire has been in operation for about a month. It was launched by the Maine Heritage Policy Center as an alternative to what Dutson has called an increasing level of bias in the mainstream media.

The State of Maine blog has no author but bills itself as a “non-partisan, independent blog about Maine politics, culture, and society. We provide breaking news, analysis and inside information about issues important to Maine’s political community.”