For Pete's Sake

Denver Post writer loses job over ‘unacceptable tweet’ about Indy 500 winner

Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato kissed the Borg-Warner Trophy during the traditional winners photo session on the start/finish line at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato kissed the Borg-Warner Trophy during the traditional winners photo session on the start/finish line at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Associated Press

An ill-advised tweet apparently has cost a sportswriter his job.

The Denver Post announced Monday that Terry Frei is no longer an employee of the company, less than 24 hours after he tweeted that he was “uncomfortable” that Japanese driver Takuma Sato had won the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend.

Here is what Frei tweeted: “Nothing specifically personal, but I am very uncomfortable with a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend.”

Frei later deleted the tweet, but not before a screenshot had been saved by multiple people.

Although Frei offered a short apology on Twitter (“I apologize”), the Post tweeted one of its. “The Denver Post apologizes for a tweet sent by one of our reporters, Terry Frei, that does not reflect the standards and values of our organization.

“We are treating this as a personnel issue and have no further comment at this time.”

After that statement, Frei wrote a detailed reason for the initial tweet and shared it on Twitter.

“I fouled up. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said what I said when I said it. I should have known better and I regret it. I in no way meant to represent my employer and I apologize to The Denver Post.

“On Sunday, I was going down to Fort Logan National Cemetery to place flowers on the grave of and to salute my father, Jerry Frei, who spent the four-year gap between his sophomore and junior seasons at Wisconsin flying the F-5 unarmed version of the one-man P-38 fighter plane in the 26th Photo Squadron. (And I did make that visit.) He flew alone, or with a partner in a second plane, over Japanese targets in advance of the bombing runs. When Blake Olson of Channel 9 asked him about being unarmed, he laughed and said, ‘I had a pistol.’ He flew 67 missions, crossing the 300 combat hours threshold, and earned the World War II Air Medal three times. I have written much other material about American athletes in World War II. I researched and wrote quite graphically about the deaths of my father’s teammates, Dave Schreiner and Bob Baumann, in the Battle of Okinawa. I have the picture wallet containing photos of his family and girlfriend that Schreiner was carrying when he was killed. That is part of my perspective.

“I am sorry, I made a mistake, and I understand 72 years have passed since the end of World War II and I do regret people with whom I probably am very closely aligned with politically and philosophically have been so offended. To those people, I apologize. (In fact, the assumptions about my political leanings have been quite inaccurate.) I apologize to Takuma Sato. I made a stupid reference, during an emotional weekend, to one of the nations that we fought in World War II — and, in this case, the specific one my father fought against. Again, I will say I’m sorry, I know better, and I’m angry at myself because there was no constructive purpose in saying it and I should not have said it, especially because The Denver Post has been dragged into this.


Terry Frei

That apparently wasn’t enough for Denver Post publisher Mac Tulley and editor Lee Ann Colacioppo. They issued a joint statement saying that Frei was no longer an employee.

“We apologize for the disrespectful and unacceptable tweet that was sent out by one of our reporters,” the statement reads. “Terry Frei is no longer an employee of The Denver Post. It’s our policy not to comment further on personnel issues.

“The tweet doesn’t represent what we believe nor what we stand for. We hope you will accept our profound apologies.”

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff