After being kicked out of The New York Times newsroom after 45 years of service by woke mobs both inside and outside the paper, science reporter Donald McNeil has responded with force. In a comprehensive, four-part story clocking in at over 20,000 words on Medium, McNeil revealed The Times to be an institution of implacable cowardice in thrall to childish leftism as a response to his removal (which was sparked by his saying of the N-word in response to a question foisted upon him by students who accompanied McNeil on a 2019 Times-sponsored student trip to Peru).
McNeil’s series opened with a statement that reveals much about why the mainstream press is held in such low regard by average Americans. Even a veteran journalist felt more comfortable telling his own story than having it filtered through the editing process or through a fellow reporter’s own filters.
He began with a zoomed-out, 10,000-foot view (click "expand"):
I’m publishing my thoughts here on Medium because I know journalists.
We make America what it is -- without a free press, democracy dies. But we’re still jackals. We can befriend you for years, and then bite off your arm just as you’re offering us a treat. We can’t help it. It’s the nature of the job.
I chose this route so I can control at least one part of the narrative: my own. If you submit to filtering by another journalist, you’re answering only his or her questions. When he writes, he chooses the bits that he thinks are important. And tiny shades of nuance can cast a whole story in a different light.
McNeil, the paper’s lead reporter on the coronavirus, the year's major story, captured the unseemly eagerness his colleagues showed in tossing him overboard, and then provided embarrassing local color about the paper’s ethnically coded beats:
People can be accused of racism over virtually anything. I’ve been accused on Twitter of having a “white eye on Africa.” That’s certainly true; these are the eyes I was born with and I sometimes cover Africa. But I don’t think that disqualifies me. The Times doesn’t have a policy that you must be Asian-American to cover Asia or African-American to cover Africa. If it did, the paper would be poorer for it. The only exception I know is that, until the 1970’s, the Times never made a Jewish reporter Jerusalem bureau chief; it had a morbid fear of being accused of being “pro-Jewish.” Then Tom Friedman went and won back-to-back Pulitzers, and the fear vanished.
About the culminating “offense" that cost McNeil his career -- saying the N-word in a discussion with the students in Peru as to whether a classmate should have been suspended for using the word, McNeil explained:
Yes, I did use the word, in this context: A student asked me if I thought her high school’s administration was right to suspend a classmate of hers for using the word in a video she’d made in eighth grade. I said “Did she actually call someone a “(offending word”? Or was she singing a rap song or quoting a book title or something?” When the student explained that it was the student, who was white and Jewish, sitting with a black friend and the two were jokingly insulting each other by calling each other offensive names for a black person and a Jew, I said “She was suspended for that? Two years later? No, I don’t think suspension was warranted. Somebody should have talked to her, but any school administrator should know that 12-year-olds say dumb things. It’s part of growing up.”
Editor-in-chief Dean Baquet, who comes off cowardly, said in a phone call with McNeil: “But Donald, you’ve lost the newsroom. People are hurt. People are saying they won’t work with you because you didn’t apologize.”
If you fire me over this, you’re going to lose everybody over age 40 at the paper, all the grownups. All your bureau chiefs, all your Washington reporters, all your Pulitzer winners. Especially once they realize how innocuous what I really said was and that you didn’t find it a firing offense in 2019. And they’ll talk to every media columnist in town. The right wing will have a field day.”
And justifiably so.
In retrospect, McNeil probably dug his grave when he described his politically unsound views to unsympathetic students prodding him with left-wing, gotcha questions: “Look, I don’t accept the far-leftie notion that there’s this Manichean split: all the evil in the world is done by white men, Americans, the US government, the CIA, colonialism or whatever, and all the rest of the world -- brown and black people, women, Latin America, Africa, etc. -- are their victims.”
The sorry affair, pitting an older, stubbornly liberal-but-non-leftist journalist against terrifyingly assured young leftist ideologues, is a miniature paradigm of the current newsroom battles convulsing the newspaper.
McNeil concluded: “I do not see why their complaints should have ended my career at the Times two years later. But they did.”
Because, as Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said at CPAC, the “child mob” reigns supreme at the New York Times.