How much of a mess is the New York Times? This much of a mess.
New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet on Thursday rolled back a controversial standard regarding the use of racial epithets at the newspaper. In a staff meeting, Baquet retracted the guidance that the paper does not “tolerate racist language regardless of intent.” He explained that the memo with the standard was written on “deadline” and that critics “rightly saw this as a threat to our journalism,” said sources present at the meeting.
The background here is a New York Times science reporter who was purged for explaining to teens that they shouldn’t use racial slurs, while repeating the slur in question. Considering our cultural revolution, you can guess which one and all the other relevant details, including the New York Times retracting its lighter punishment of the reporter and then purging him while insisting that intent doesn’t matter.
Now the New York Times has semi-retracted its retraction, not to the extent of giving him his job, but to the extent of no longer insisting that intent doesn’t matter.
Part of the problem may have been this.
The Free Beacon also reached out to Times employees who have used racial slurs on Twitter and was doxxed by one of them. Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of the New York Times Magazine‘s influential 1619 Project, who commands a Twitter following of half a million, posted Free Beacon reporter Aaron Sibarium’s email inquiry, which included his cell phone number, in violation of the social media company’s terms of service. Hannah-Jones later scrubbed her account after leaving Sibarium’s information up for two days.
Now suddenly intent matters.
And the Times blames this huge decision to declare that intent doesn’t matter on a memo written for a deadline. I know that when I’ve written memos with a deadline, I’ve thrown random horrifying ideas with huge implications all the time. And that’s even without all the lawyers who must have looked over that memo.
Alternatively, though the New York Times may just be making stuff up. The evidence for this theory is compelling from the Sarah Palin lawsuit against the New York Times.
A few hours after the bullets flew, according to her deposition, she sent an email to colleagues with the subject line, “Are we writing on the congressional shooting?” An editor responded, “Can’t see it yet, but keep looking. A nutcase who hates Republicans???”
For the next few hours, Williamson and other edit-page staff researched motives for the shooting. Mid-afternoon, Bennet contributed to an email string: “Did we ever write anything connecting…the Giffords shooting to some kind of incitement?”
A colleague offered up a 2011 column in which Frank Rich mentioned Palin’s map but noted that “we have no idea” if Loughner had seen it before the shooting, adding, “nor does it matter.”
Bennet was up early the next day, with a 5:08am email to colleagues: “Hey guys—We’re taking a lot of criticism for saying that the attack on Giffords was in any way connected to incitement.… I don’t know what the truth is here, but we may have relied too heavily on our early editorials and other early coverage of that attack.
A key thing to remember is that while there are conspiracies, plenty of them, the guys at the top are far more incompetent than anyone gives them credit for.