As editor of the Washington Inquirer, I was astonished to read in Howard Kurtz's Media Notes Jan. 4 that the Inquirer is Reed Irvine's "own newspaper." The Inquirer is owned and published by the Council for the Defense of Freedom, not Reed Irvine. Mr. Irvine is one of 13 members of the council's board. He is neither an officer of the council nor does he have any official position with the Inquirer.

Mr. Kurtz says that Mr. Irvine "refused to run columns by Jon Basil Utley" in the Washington Inquirer. It is my responsibility as editor to decide what columns to run, and it was I who rejected one of Mr. Utley's columns. Mr. Utley asked Mr. Irvine to intercede on his behalf, and Mr. Irvine refused to do so. Mr. Utley persisted in demanding that his columns be published, and so the matter was referred to the editor in chief, Wilson C. Lucom, who upheld my decision. Mr. Utley persisted, and so the matter was taken up by the council's board of directors, which voted to uphold my decision with only one dissenting vote.

Mr. Utley contended that the Inquirer unfairly denied him the opportunity to criticize the U.S. government's policies toward Iraq. The truth is that the board advised Mr. Utley that he should submit his views in a letter to the editor, which he did, and the letter was published.

Mr. Utley claims that he at one time was published regularly in our paper and that he therefore has a right to have anything that he submits published. He has not been published regularly in the nearly two years that I have been with the Inquirer, and I fail to understand the basis on which he claims the right to be published.

The Post's ombudsman, Richard Harwood, addressed such an issue in his Oct. 28, 1990, column. He said, "You are not 'entitled' to a letter to the editor, to an op-ed piece or even to a paid advertisement; if we don't like it we don't print it." That is a right editors and publishers are given by the First Amendment.

ARTHUR D. RANDALL Editor, The Washington Inquirer Washington