The Corner

Culture

By Its Own Standard, the New York Times Should Fire Sarah Jeong

Sarah Jeong (XOXO Festival/YouTube)

I don’t like outrage mobs, and I think David French enunciates a sensible line in these cases — past tweets shouldn’t be a firing offense, but things you say while working for your employer are fair game. But the hypocrisy in the Sarah Jeong case is off the charts. There is no way that the Times stands by a writer who expressed such animus against any other group. And the idea, advanced by the Times in its explanation of why it is keeping her, that she was simply adopting the language of her online harassers, is completely dishonest. Who says racist things for years because they get nasty messages on Twitter? These tweets weren’t isolated instances — Andrew Sullivan pointed to a thread that walks through them all:

But what is most galling about this episode is that, in almost exactly the same circumstance earlier this year, the Times preemptively fired a new hire for past tweets. And it seems that Quinn Norton really was adopting the language of people she was directly addressing.

Certainly, her use of the n-word was completely innocent. She retweeted someone using the word to troll racists:

If any rational person had to decide whether to keep Sarah Jeong or Quinn Norton on the basis of past tweets, it wouldn’t even be a close call — Norton would stay and Jeong would go. The Times reached the opposite conclusion, via a dishonest account of Jeong’s tweeting. Again, this doesn’t mean that Jeong should be fired. It does mean that the Times and Jeong should be more forthcoming, and that the paper owes Quinn Norton an apology.

As for whether this episode leads to a pause in the firing wars, don’t bet on it. It’s more likely to be a step toward entrenching the view among the elite that racial animus isn’t so bad, so long as it’s directed at the group that was the long-running target of Jeong’s contempt.

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

O’Rourke’s America

With apologies to Margaret Atwood and a thousand other dystopian novelists, we do not have to theorize about what an American police state would look like, because we know what it looks like: the airport, that familiar totalitarian environment where Americans are disarmed, stripped of their privacy, divested of ... Read More
World

Kurdish, Syrian, and Turkish Ironies

Outrage met Donald Trump’s supposedly rash decision to pull back U.S. troops from possible confrontational zones between our Kurdish friends in Syria and Recep Erdogan’s expeditionary forces. Turkey claims that it will punish the Syrian Kurds for a variety of supposed provocations, including aiding and ... Read More
Sports

LeBron James Looks Like a Fraud

So, LeBron James claimed that Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey was simply “misinformed or not really educated on the situation” when he tweeted his support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. “I don’t want to get into a feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at ... Read More