According to Dr. Milton Wolf, the answer is “yes.” And he should know, because the columnist was him.
Milton Wolf is a physician practicing in Kansas City, and he’s also President Barack Obama’s second cousin. During the health care debates of 2010, Dr. Wolf began speaking out against the ObamaCare proposal. Because he is an articulate, knowledgeable, passionate conservative, he began getting national attention, appearing on outlets including PJTV and Fox News. He also became a regular columnist for the Washington Times.
During the 5/14/2013 White House press conference, Dr. Wolf tweeted:
The same year the #IRS held up my tax refund for months w/o ever saying why, the WH urged the @WashTimes to drop me.
I asked him for more details. He explained what happened back in 2010 (quoted with his permission):
They called my editor and feigned concern that the Washington Times was taking advantage of me… by publishing my op-eds critical of Barack Obama. Around the same time the IRS put a hold on our tax refund that required an arbitrator and several months to resolve. We finally received our refund (and interest) but never an explanation. The local IRS office and the arbitrator seemed genuinely confused by the ordeal using terms like “very strange” and “unusual” but never could explain why it happened. One wonders.
With respect to the IRS issue, he noted:
I wondered at the time if the White House could possibly be behind it but I just couldn’t make that leap. It seemed so stupid and hamhanded. But what before seemed implausible today seems possible.
Of course, he may never know the full truth. Another interesting observation from Wolf:
[I]t wasn’t just a politician complaining about a particular column or supposedly incorrect facts. They weren’t requesting a correction or even an opportunity to respond. They wanted someone canned.
Fortunately, the Washington Times stood by Dr. Wolf. He’s now written over 80 pieces for them in the past three years (which is pretty damned impressive for someone with a full-time job in a busy medical practice).
At Tuesday’s press conference, White House press secretary Jay Carney repeatedly claimed that President Obama was deeply committed to freedom of the press and “unfettered” media scrutiny of his administration. Trying to get a conservative columnist canned from a newspaper sure is a funny way of showing it.