Charles Johnson Buys CMC Forum; Fires Staff
In an unexpected move on Friday, April 1, Charles Johnson, bought the Forum from the Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College. Immediately after Johnson took ownership over the publication, he circulated a memorandum to all senior staff, including newly appointed Editor-in-Chief Heath Hyatt, announcing their termination. Late on Thursday afternoon, Johnson presented ASCMC President Jessica Mao and Chief Financial Officer Lacey McLean with $15,000 in cash. Speaking to people close to the ASCMC Executive Board indicate negotiations over the future of the Forum have gone on for weeks. It is still unclear what prompted the move, why ASCMC accepted the offer and why Johnson would even be interested in the publication. Records indicate that the Forum was stable financially and there were no rumors of collapse. An independent audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers found the publication was running smoothly and under budget.
In a press release circulated to various campus publications, Johnson announced the appointment of a new senior staff, none of whom attend any of the Claremont Colleges. An anonymous source familiar with the situation said, "Johnson wanted his own people, to fulfill his own agenda and did not want any dissenting opinions." The change was effective immediately according to the letter.
Rumors circulated Thursday evening about possible reasons for Johnson acquiring the Forum. Some thought this was a move to silence his rival publication on campus. Others speculated the purchase was a well thought out investment. An individual in Johnson's inner-circle said Johnson was strongly considering shutting down the publication. The individual added that Johnson's desire to "squash the largest competing publication" was the driving force behind his decision.
Hyatt was spotted leaving his office behind McKenna Auditorium with his few office belongings. Stan Lipstein, a passerby saw him and said, "He seemed slightly frustrated and astonished as he got into his car. There was no yelling or cursing that I heard." Multiple reports indicate Hyatt left the premises escorted by Campus Safety. Campus Safety said the escort was a formality.
Hyatt was only Editor-in-Chief at the Forum for 10 days before the publication switched hands. He was unavailable for comment about the recent move and changes. Some question the decision to release him from the publication. A source close to Hyatt said he and Johnson simply wanted to take the Forum in different directions and those irreconcilable discrepancies led to Hyatt's termination.
Johnson, a Senior at CMC, Editor-in-Chief of the Claremont Conservative and entrepreneur, was also unavailable for comment. His secretary said Johnson will hold a press conference on the Bauer Center steps on April 4 announcing a new direction for the publication and his plans for the future.
Other members of the previous senior staff including Rachel Brody, W. Max Mullen and Kelsey Brown could not be reached for comment.