Apparently it’s tougher than it looks to find editorial writers without a history of racially charged tweets, judging from the recent experience of The New York Times.
Six months after giving the heave-ho to an opinion writer over her insensitive social media comments, The New York Times is standing by Sarah Jeong, its newly hired lead technology scribe on the editorial side, despite the racist skeletons in her Twitter feed.
In a statement, the newspaper chalked up her anti-white blasts, such as “white men are bull——,” as a reaction to “frequent online harassment.”
“Her journalism and the fact that she is a young Asian woman have made her a subject of frequent online harassment,” said The Times. “For a period of time she responded to that harassment by imitating the rhetoric of her harassers.”
Her hiring was met Wednesday with a spate of criticism over more than a dozen hostile tweets, most from 2014, in which she referred to “[d]umbass f—-ing white people” and declared, “oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men.”
Times officials acknowledged that they were aware of her social media history before they offered her the editorial board post, saying it came out during the vetting process.
“She sees now that this approach only served to feed the vitriol that we too often see on social media. She regrets it, and The Times does not condone it,” said the statement.
The newspaper also posted a statement from Ms. Jeong, a former senior writer at The Verge, in which she described her behavior as “counter-trolling.”
“As a woman of color on the internet, I have faced torrents of online hate, often along this vein,” she said, and gave examples in which someone used a racial slur against her and another threatened to “sock you right in your lesbian face.”
As a result, she said, “I engaged in what I thought of at the time of counter-trolling. While it was intended as satire, I deeply regret that I mimicked the language of my harassers.”
After “candid conversations,” The Times said, Ms. Jeong “understands that this type of rhetoric is not acceptable at The Times and we are confident that she will be an important voice for the editorial board moving forward.”
Ms. Jeong added: “These comments were not aimed at a general audience, because general audiences do not engage in harassment campaigns. I can understand how hurtful these posts are out of context, and would not do it again.”
The statement was released after Twitchy ran a slew of her disparaging tweets along with comments from prominent conservatives.
“Creepy race obsessive,” said Townhall’s Guy Benson. Glenn Beck asked, “What will The New York Times do here? Are these jokes? Out of context? Does it matter?”
Conservative media outlet Prager University suggested that Ms. Jeong was able to keep her job because her comments were directed against white men.
“These days, you can get in a lot of trouble for saying dumb, ugly or offensive things on Twitter,” said Prager. “Unless they’re against white men of course, then you get a gig at the @NYTimes.”
The newspaper faced a similar situation in February after announcing the hiring of Wired’s Quinn Norton as its lead opinion writer on technology, which prompted a social media backlash over her description of white nationalist internet troll Andrew Auernheimer as “a terrible person & an old friend.”
Ms. Norton had also “used slurs against gay people” and “retweeted a racial slur,” according to the newspaper.
Hours later, she announced that she would no longer join the newspaper, and editorial page editor James Bennet said they had decided “to go our separate ways.”