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

Hillary Ruins the Plan

Editor’s note: Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book is Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. This is the first in a series of excerpts.  There really was a collusion plot. It really did target our election system. It absolutely sought to usurp our capacity for ... Read More
Religion

Another Pop-Culture Christian Loses His Faith

It’s happened again. For the second time in three weeks, a prominent (at least in Evangelical circles) Christian has renounced his faith. In July, it was Josh Harris, a pastor and author of the mega-best-selling purity-culture book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. This month, it’s Hillsong United songwriter and ... Read More
Culture

Max Boot’s Dishonesty

Before yesterday, my primary criticism of the Washington Post’s Max Boot was political in nature. As I wrote in a recent book review, I found it regrettable that Boot’s opposition to the president had not prevented him from “succumbing reactively to Trump’s cult of personality, or from making Trump the ... Read More
Elections

A Brief History of Election Meddling

Editor’s note: Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book is Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. This is the second in a series of excerpts. ‘The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” Thus spoke President Barack Obama just a couple of weeks before ... Read More
World

The End of Hong Kong as We Know It

The protests in Hong Kong have been going on for more than four months now, and no matter how the current crisis concludes in the coming days or weeks, it will mark the end of Hong Kong as we know it. The protests started in response to an extradition bill that was proposed by the city’s Beijing-backed ... Read More