Those criticizing the Times for Jeong’s hire should be well aware that the paper has a history of hiring racist journalists and that the paper itself has even been sued for past racist policies.
NEW YORK — On Wednesday, the New York Times’ announcement of its most recent hire — South Korean-American journalist Sarah Jeong — quickly sparked controversy following the emergence of Jeong’s past racist tweets targeting Caucasians. The tweets — which included comparing “dumbass fucking white people” to dogs, asserting that white people would “go extinct soon,” and using the hashtag #CancelWhitePeople — were ultimately defended by the Times’ editorial staff, which claimed that Jeong had only been “imitating the rhetoric of her harassers” on social media and that they had been well aware of the controversial tweets prior to their decision to hire her.
The paper’s decision to hire Jeong, and then stand by her after the tweets were revealed, was heavily criticized by conservatives in particular, some of whom claimed that the paper had set a “hypocritical double standard” by standing by their new hire despite the controversy. However, those criticizing the Times for Jeong’s hire should be well aware that the paper has a history of hiring racist journalists and that the paper itself has even been sued for past racist policies.
A history of questionable hires
Last April, the Times’ announced that it would give a column in the paper’s Op-ed section to journalist Bret Stephens. At the time of his hire, James Benet, editorial page editor of the Times praised Stephens’ “profound intellectual depth, honesty, and bravery” and asserted that hiring Stephens would increase the Opinion section’s “diversity.”
Yet, Stephens — despite having won the 2013 Pulitzer prize for commentary — is undeniably a racist whose past comments make Jeong’s controversial tweets seem hardly worth the outrage they have generated in recent days.
In a 2011 piece titled, “Haiti, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire: Who Cares?,” Stephens asserts that these nations, chiefly inhabited by Africans or those of African descent, were essentially better off under colonialism than under their current systems of government. He goes on to argue that Haiti, which has been pillaged by foreign corporations and governments, as well as by the Clintons, suffers as a direct result of the “depravity of the locals.”
Then, in a 2016 article, Stephens stated that anti-Semitism — which in the context of the article was actually anti-Zionism, not anti-Semitism — was “the disease of the Arab mind.” In the same article, Stephens went on to discuss the “backward” nature of modern Arab society, writing that “Today there is no great university in the Arab world, no serious indigenous scientific base, a stunted literary culture.” He then added, that all of “the Arab world’s problems,” including U.S. wars and funding of terrorists in the region, “are a problem of the Arab mind.” Stephens has often singled out Palestinians, claiming that they are victims of their “bloodlust” towards Jews, which is the consequence of their “perverted” nature.
Furthermore, despite being racist himself, Stephens claims that racism hardly exists in the United States, having written in 2015 that “institutionalized racism is an imaginary enemy” and later wrote that the Black Lives Matters movement’s assertions to the contrary had “metastasized into the big lie of America.”
Beyond Stephens’ presence at the paper, the Times has also hired other racists as recently as this past February, despite its alleged practice of thoroughly “vetting” the social-media histories of prospective employees. As an example, this past February, the Times announced the hire of Quinn Norton as its new “lead opinion writer on the power, culture and consequences of technology.”
Quinn Norton's flaws aside, there's no sane argument for jettisoning her and keeping Bret Stephens https://t.co/bwYUiG9wDp
— Stagger Lee Shot First (@elongreen) February 14, 2018
Hours later, however, it was revealed that Quinn shared a friendship with the neo-Nazi Andrew Auernheimer, who currently co-runs the white supremacist Daily Stormer website, and had used various racial slurs, including the “n” word on Twitter. Though Norton was fired as a result of the controversy surrounding her past comments on social media, it is highly likely that the Times had known of Quinn’s controversial opinions and writing — such as her 2013 article about her “patron saint of moral complexity” John Rabe, a Nazi who hailed Hitler as a hero but also helped Chinese citizens escape Japanese war atrocities.
Racist content, racist personnel practices?
In addition to having hired racists well before the Times decided to add Jeong to its team, the country’s so-called “paper of record” has regularly put out racist content. In one recent example from this past late May, the Times’ “Style” section published a piece originally titled “Canal Street Cleans Up Nice,” which detailed how New York City’s Canal Street in the heart of Chinatown had only “improved” after gentrification took hold and non-Chinese business people had brought in a “high-end” design firm, a fine jewelry store and a new event space, forcing out many of the Chinese Americans who had long lived and worked in the area.
The article’s subheading had originally stated that Canal Street, when it had hosted a majority of Chinese-owned shops and vendors, had then been a “once derided thoroughfare mostly synonymous with fake designer goods.”
After complaints, the Times modified the article’s title to read “The Gentrification of Canal Street” and removed “once derided” from the subheading but kept the rest of the article intact.
Not only that, but the Times itself has been sued for racial discrimination. The hiring practices of Mark Thompson, who still serves as the paper’s CEO, led the paper to be sued for racial discrimination in 2016. According to court documents, the lawsuit claimed that under Thompson — who has led the paper since he left the BBC in 2012 — the company had “become an environment rife with discrimination” and had been “engaging in deplorable discrimination.”
The suit was brought by two African-American female employees who worked in the advertising department. They asserted that older advertising directors of color found themselves pushed out through buyouts or had been fired only to have their positions rapidly filled with younger, white individuals. The claimants also asserted that these “younger white individuals,” despite being their equals at the company, were paid far more than their non-white counterparts. In addition, they claim they were “denied the opportunities to earn as much as [their] younger white peers because of [their] race and/or gender.” Prior to becoming the Times’ CEO, Thompson had been accused of discrimination against women and older employees while serving as director-general foo the BBC.
Given the outrage over Sarah Jeong’s hire, it’s due time that critics of the Times over its turning a blind eye to racism recognize that the decision to hire Jeong is hardly an isolated incident at the country’s “paper of record.”
Top Photo | A photo of the New York Times building in New York with a photo of recent New York Times hire Sarah Jeong in the upper right corner. Richard Drew | AP & Wikimedia Commons
Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.