On Sunday, Takuma Sato became the first Japanese driver to win the Indianapolis 500.
The same day, local sportswriter Terry Frei made this comment on Twitter: “Nothing specifically personal, but I am very uncomfortable with a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend.”
The tweet was quickly deleted, but not before it was screenshotted and spread across social media. One day later, The Denver Post’s leadership has apologized “for the disrespectful and unacceptable tweet,” and announced that Frei “is no longer an employee of The Denver Post.”
The statement was signed by newspaper CEO Mac Tully and editor Lee Ann Colacioppo. Frei has since issued statements about the message. “I apologize,” the first one read.
In a lengthier explanation, he wrote that his father had flown scouting runs over Japanese targets before bombing missions in World War II, also mentioning friends of his father who were killed. “That is part of my perspective,” he wrote.
“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.” He apologized to Sato in the note.
Frei also had tweeted on Sunday about an article he had written about the death of one of his father’s friends, saying that “THIS is what Memorial Day is about … Not for squeamish or ‘sensitive.'”
This marks the end of Frei’s second term of employment at the Post, according to his website. He was employed at the paper as early as 1995 in his current stint, per his LinkedIn. His first years at the paper included the 1977 run to the Super Bowl, which they lost. He also is an affiliate journalism professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Frei has most recently covered professional and college hockey, as well as Colorado State University football.
This post was updated to note that Frei’s first term at the paper included 1977.