A part-time columnist for The Current newspapers is facing criticism for Facebook comments that a top Atlantic County Democrat is calling racist.
Charlie Pritchard, a former mayor of Hamilton, responded to a post by former Atlantic County freeholder John Carman about Elizabeth Warren’s potential candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“Pocahontas has entered the presidential race,” Carman posted. “Should I have reservations?”
Pritchard responded to the post: “I’m sure she will run an ‘in tents’ campaign.”
The he added: “You could get Siouxed for that.”
Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman has complained to Pritchard’s boss, the publisher of the Press of Atlantic City and The Current newspapers.
“Clearly Mr. Pritchard and I have different senses of humor, as I found nothing funny about any of these racist jokes,” Suleiman wrote in a letter e-mailed to Blum today. “I find it incredibly alarming that a local journalist who is supposed to cover Hamilton Township and Egg Harbor City news and politics objectively feels it is perfectly normal to post anti-Native American comments on social media for anyone, myself included, to see.”
Pritchard, who spent 22 years as a councilman and five years as mayor, said he thought Suleiman’s response was “extremely overblown.”
“I’m not taking a shot at Native Americans,” Pritchard told the New Jersey Globe. “I’m taking a shot at her (Warren’s) interpretation of her background, which I believe is totally phony.”
Still, Pritchard said he felt badly that his comments might have offended anyone.
“I certainly apologize,” Pritchard said. “We’ve gotten way beyond the bounds of political correctness. I was just having a little fun.”
Carman had had trouble with some of his past comments.
In 2017, he apologized for wearing a confederate patch on his jacket. That came a few months after Carmen posted a meme on his Facebook page during the Women’s March on Washington.
“Will the woman’s protest be over in time for them to cook dinner?” Carman said online. He apologized for that as well.
Criticism over Carmen’s comments contributed to him losing re-election. He was defeated by Democrat Ashley Bennett.
I know Mr. Pritchard’s views on Native Americans are not held by other employees of The Press or The Current, for I have interacted with many of them over the years,” Suleiman said in his letter to Blum. “As publisher, I’m asking you to take immediate action against Mr. Pritchard’s racist, ridiculous, and stupid comments.”
Blum told The Globe that Pritchard is non an employee of his newspaper, but that they use him as a freelance journalist from time to time.”
“We don’t have control over what he does on social media,” Blum said, noting that The Press and The Current have social media policies in place for their full-time reporters. “We don’t condone that kind of journalism.”
Blum said he has referred Suleiman’s letter to his executive editor to determine whether they will continue to use Pritchard in the future.
This story was updated at 11:10 AM with comment from Blum.