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The New York Times jettisons another top employee following newsroom revolt

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 2/6/2021 Becket Adams
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The New York Times sounds like the most miserable place to work in America.

Science reporter Donald McNeil, who served as the newspaper’s chief COVID-19 correspondent, has resigned following reports that he used a racial slur in 2019 during an educational trip to Peru with high school students.

It’s ridiculous when you dig into the details of what actually happened, including that McNeil uttered the slur only because he was seeking to clarify a student’s question about uses of that word specifically.

McNeil’s supposed offensive prompted outrage this week among New York Times staffers. Top management tried to put down yet another newsroom uprising, promising aggrieved employees that they would “examine the way we manage behavioral problems among members of the staff.”

Unfortunately for McNeil, management’s efforts to calm their perpetually excitable staff failed. On Friday, the science reporter announced his resignation.

That’s when the public learned of the full context in which McNeil used the slur.

“On a 2019 New York Times trip to Peru for high school students, I was asked by a student whether I thought a classmate of hers should have been suspended for a video she had made as a 12-year-old in which she used a racial slur,” the now-former New York Times reporter said Friday in a statement.

He adds, “To understand what was in the video, I asked if she had called someone else the slur or whether she was rapping or quoting a book title. In asking the question, I used the slur itself.”

He is now unemployed.

McNeil’s sudden exit comes not that long after the New York Times wrestled a similar resignation from former editorial page editor James Bennet following the publication of a June 3, 2020, opinion article authored by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton. The Arkansas lawmaker argued in his op-ed that the National Guard should be deployed to supplant police districts overwhelmed by anti-police riots.

Like McNeil, Bennett’s unceremonious exit came after a very public newsroom revolt.

“Senator Cotton certainly has the right to write and say whatever he wants in this country, but we as a news organization should not be running something that is offering misinformation to the public unchecked,” the New York Times Magazine’s Nikole Hannah-Jones, the founder of the factually challenged 1619 Project, complained during an appearance on CNN.

Other New York Times staffers claimed the Cotton op-ed literally put their lives in danger. Literally.

To reiterate, Cotton did not advocate for the use of military force against peaceful protesters. Likewise, McNeil didn’t use a racial slur in anger. He did not direct it at anyone. McNeil used the word in the context of attempting to clarify a very specific and difficult question posed by a student who attended the trip to Peru.

Details, context, and intent, however, don’t matter at the New York Times. Staffers are angry, so a human sacrifice must be made.

"We do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent,” the paper’s top editors, Dean Baquet and Joe Kahn, said in a staff memo.

“Regardless of intent”? Oh, boy, one can’t help but wonder now about the editorial judgment that goes into the paper's coverage of, well, anything.

At the New York Times, intent obviously counts for nothing. The only thing that apparently matters is how staffers feel. Everything else flows from that.

Tags: Opinion, Beltway Confidential, New York Times, Racism, Racists, Media, Media Bias, Media Coverage

Original Author: Becket Adams

Original Location: The New York Times jettisons another top employee following newsroom revolt


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