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New York Times reviews Wirecutter editor Erin Marquis over voicemail for gun rights group after Michigan shooting

CNBC logo CNBC 12/3/2021 Dan Mangan
  • The New York Times is reviewing a top editor at Times-owned Wirecutter.com for tweeting scathing messages about a gun-rights group, and for allegedly leaving angry, profane voicemails to the group.
  • The tweets by Wirecutter editor Erin Marquis and the voicemails each referenced a press release opposing gun control laws sent out by the group Great Lakes Gun Rights.
  • The release came on the heels of a shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan, which killed four students.
A memorial outside of Oxford High School on December 03 2021 in Oxford, Michigan. © Provided by CNBC A memorial outside of Oxford High School on December 03 2021 in Oxford, Michigan.

The New York Times said Friday that it is reviewing a top editor at the newspaper's Wirecutter.com for tweeting scathing messages about a gun-rights group, and for allegedly leaving angry, profane voicemails for the group.

The tweets and the alleged voicemail by Erin Marquis, Wirecutter's lead editor for computer/networking, each referenced a press release opposing gun control laws sent out by the group Great Lakes Gun Rights on the heels of a shooting at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit that killed four students.

Wirecutter.com is a product-recommendation site that the Times purchased in 2016.

Marquis was identified by the National Association for Gun Rights as the woman who left two voicemails Thursday for its Michigan affiliate, the Great Lakes group.

"Hi, I'm a journalist with The New York Times. I'm just calling to wonder, I have two questions. How do you sleep at night?" the woman said on the clip posted on YouTube by the national group.

"Aren't you just, like, a little bit worried that there might be a hell, and when you meet God he might send you there?" the woman asked.

"The only people politicizing this seems to be you, because you're the only people I got a f----- press release from," the woman said. "Again, I am from The New York Times, and I am letting everyone in The New York Times know what kind of f---ing as-holes you are. Congrats on being a laughingstock."

"You f---ing ghouls, I hope that there is a God in heaven, so he judges you when you die," the woman said in a second audio clip.

That group on Friday asked on Twitter if the Times will "apologize and reprimand" Marquis for the voicemails it claims she left.

"We're not surprised that an angry, liberal, anti-gun New York Times reporter would show their true colors and wish we'd burn in hell – we're just glad she was actually foolish enough to leave two voicemails for us to laugh at, and then publish," said Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights in a prepared statement.


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Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha, in an email to CNBC, said, "We expect our employees to behave in a way that is consistent with our values and commitment to the highest ethical standards."

"We are currently reviewing this matter, which involves an employee of Wirecutter, our product recommendation site, who does not work in The New York Times newsroom," the spokeswoman said.

Marquis declined to comment.

She was hired for the Wirecutter job in July after spending four years as editor of Jalopnik.com, a car enthusiast site.

The Times, like many other news organizations, has a policy regarding the use of social media by journalists, which admonishes them from making comments online that can be viewed by readers as biased on political issues.

The National Association for Gun Rights, which says it has 4.5 million members, in an email Thursday noted that earlier in the day it sent reporters "a press release condemning the gun control bills and initiatives being pushed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Senate Democrats in the Michigan Legislature in response to the tragedy at Oxford High School."

On Thursday afternoon, Marquis tweeted: "Just got a press release from the Great Lakes Gun Rights organization about protecting gun rights from democrats in Michigan and I am literally shaking with rage."

"I hope there is a God and they [meet] that God someday," Marquis wrote.

"My brother and sister in law are both teachers in the suburbs," Marquis wrote in another tweet.

She then gave the phone number and email of the group, "If you want to make your displeasure known."

That tweet contained a screen grab of an email she sent the group, which said, "Take me off your mailing list you f------ ghouls." 

Marquis deleted those tweets and removed her Twitter account from public view after the National Association for Gun Rights sent out a press release identifying her as the woman who had called the Michigan affiliate.

In guidance that was updated in November 2020 and published on the newspaper's website, The Times said, "Social media presents potential risks for The Times."

"If our journalists are perceived as biased or if they engage in editorializing on social media, that can undercut the credibility of the entire newsroom," the guidance says. "We've always made clear that newsroom employees should avoid posting anything on social media that damages our reputation for neutrality and fairness."

"In social media posts, our journalists must not express partisan opinions, promote political views, endorse candidates, make offensive comments or do anything else that undercuts The Times's journalistic reputation," the policy says.

"Our journalists should be especially mindful of appearing to take sides on issues that The Times is seeking to cover objectively."

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