Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Fake Iraq Veteran Got Free Drinks Then Wrote About it?

Backlash grows after column sparks outrage 
Citizens Voice
BY BOB KALINOWSKI
Published: December 29, 2015
The public backlash against the Weekender continues to mount following a column in last week’s edition in which a writer boasted about scoring free drinks at a bar by pretending to be an Iraq war veteran.

Veterans expressed outrage, with some accusing the writer of “stolen valor.”

One of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s leading civil rights activists launched a petition demanding apologies — from the columnist all the way up to the head of the Weekender’s parent company, North Carolina-based Civitas Media, which also publishes The Times Leader.

The writer and the Weekender’s editor have issued public apologies, but some local businesses still vowed to pull their advertising and stop distributing the free weekly entertainment newspaper.

“R bar and grill Nanticoke will NEVER advertise or distribute this paper again. It’s a disgrace to all of NEPA. pathetic!,” Lauren Temarantz Maga, owner of R Bar and Grill, proclaimed on her Facebook page with a link to the column.

“We come from a family of veterans,” Maga said Monday. “The men and women that serve are heroes.”

Maga said the business called the Weekender offices Monday to demand they stop delivering the paper to the restaurant.

River Grille in Plains Township did the same.

“We haven’t advertised with them in a long time anyway, but we don’t want to have the paper even available at the bar anymore,” River Grille manager Erica West said.

The controversial column, titled “Free drinks come at a price,” was written by Justin Adam Brown, who was laid off in November as a full-time staffer, but continued to write his weekly “Sorry mom and dad” column. Last week’s column described his musings about a summer night out when he and a friend ran into a drunk Vietnam veteran. He said it was then he “discovered the secret to getting a free drink” as a man at a bar.

“Just say you’re a veteran,” Brown wrote.
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