Staffers from The New York Times are reportedly clashing with one another following last week’s resignation of veteran reporter Donald McNeil Jr.
The Washington Free Beacon reported on Monday that a “private” Facebook group made up of current and former Times employees were engaging in heated exchanges after McNeil announced his exit after it was revealed that he had used the “n-word” on a 2019 educational trip in Peru, something he explained in his resignation letter was said in context during a conversation with college students about the word but offered an apology.
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“One camp argues that his dismissal was justified and another asserts it set a troubling precedent, which the New York Times union should have done more to prevent,” the Free Beacon reported.
Former Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse reportedly defended McNeil, writing “What ever happened to the notion of worker solidarity … to giving a fellow worker the benefit of the doubt? And why didn’t the NewsGuild do far more to defend and protect the job of a long-time Times employee, one who at times did tireless, heroic work on behalf of the Guild to help improve pay and conditions for all NYT employees?”
Deb Amlen, the Times crossword columnist, allegedly pushed back, accusing Greenhouse of putting the focus on the “perpretrator” and not on the people McNeil had “harmed.”
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“Greenhouse argued that the staffers who went after McNeil, including [New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole] Hannah-Jones and race reporter John Eligon, had their priorities backwards,” the Free Beacon wrote. “Many of them, he wrote in the Facebook group, were ‘far more willing to sympathize with these privileged 15- and 16-year-olds than with a long time colleague who has done much great work for the Times over the years.'”
Times finance reporter Lawrence De Maria knocked his boss, the paper’s executive editor Dean Baquet’s statement declaring, “We do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent,” which was a shift in tone after The Daily Beast first reported that McNeil was previously displined over the incident but Baquet concluded that his remarks “were offensive and that he showed extremely poor judgment, but it did not appear to me that that his intentions were hateful or malicious.”
“‘We do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent’ might be the most racist statement I’ve ever read,” De Maria exclaimed. “It demeans ALL races.”
Times Magazine contributor Robert Worth also questioned Baquet’s leadership as well as Times publisher AG Sultzberger, writing “Dean and AG make a decision, and then are bullied by a vocal minority into changing their minds… This is not the NYT I know.”
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The Free Beacon put Baquet’s “intent” standard to the test by resurfacing a pair of 2016 tweets written by Hannah-Jones, who used the n-word while defending Larry Wilmore’s use of the term during that year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Hannah-Jones, the reporter behind the widely-disputed “1619 Project,” responded to the Free Beacon’s “intent” inquiry by posting the reporter’s email, including his cell phone number, to her 518,000 Twitter followers.
A spat between two Times employees also occured on Twitter after reporter Michael Powell tweeted out a statement defending McNeil from the nonprofit literary organization PEN.
“You often wonder what your white colleagues who are lovely to your face are actually thinking or saying about you — or people like you — behind your back,” Eligon told Powell on Sunday.
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One Times reporter told the Free Beacon, “I don’t think anybody feels like we have any clarity about what happened with that incident or other alleged incidents… [W]e demand transparency of other people, and we don’t have it in our own processes.”
The Times did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
McNeil, 66, was the Times’ longtime science reporter and was one of the star journalists covering the coronavirus pandemic. He had worked for the Gray Lady since 1976.
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