Ex-New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson has written an Op-Ed in the NY Post with her thoughts on the recent unrest at her former employer – where a woke mob of journalists were able to unseat a science correspondent from his job of over 40-years for repeating the “N-word” on a Times-sponsored trip to Peru for high-school students.
Authored by Jill Abramson via the NY Post (emphasis ours):
I have been called by many reporters about the controversial departure of reporter Donald McNeil from The New York Times.
“Do I think the Times treated McNeil unfairly?” “Is there a management meltdown at the Times?” “Why are ‘woke’ reporters up in arms inside the Times?”
Because I’m a journalist, I always try to respond truthfully and on-the-record, which I have done. But some of the reporters who call me are mainly looking for little “scooplets” to feed controversy, to stoke conflict, to keep the story going for another news cycle.
I do have a unique perspective that I’m eager to share. I know what it feels like to be pushed out of an important job at The Times in a public manner, as was the case when I was fired as executive editor in 2014.
It’s painful beyond words to have a career cut short at the Times, especially when a life-altering decision about a great journalist’s career is made by its leaders under duress and under intense public scrutiny. These are not the best conditions for considered, fair decision-making.
I also know what the Times feels like from the inside when it is beset by one of these controversies. It’s destabilizing and even the best managers can feel like their heads are spinning. It’s easy to feel like the whole world is watching when, in truth, only journalists glued to Twitter are watching. I was there for the raging days of Jason Blair and Judy Miller.
No one has really stopped and asked the only question that really matters in the current flap and all the others. Have readers been adversely affected by what’s happened inside the NYT or by Mr. McNeil’s behavior? Given what I know, and there is still information I don’t know, I think not.
Because of Mr. McNeil’s resignation, readers are being denied his vital reporting on COVID-19 at a very inopportune moment. Were they impacted by whatever he said to a group of kids on a trip in 2019? I think not. Did Mr. McNeil’s utterance of a racial slur word with no intent to harm anyone hurt readers? Again, I think the answer is no, although as someone who teaches college students I would never say this word myself.
Sure, one can question McNeil’s judgment on the trip, but that has almost nothing to do with whether he has upheld his first duty as a professional journalist: to bring the public vital information and hold power accountable. As someone who knows Mr. McNeil, I can say with authority that he has always performed this first duty of a journalist with distinction.
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