More Infighting Rocks The New York Times

The New York Times is once again facing criticism and internal unrest, as progressive staffers are speaking out against the paper’s coverage. According to Washington Post media scribe Erik Wemple, Times management recently deleted internal communications from employees who expressed frustration with a reported opinion piece by Pamela Paul.

The piece, titled “As Kids, They Thought They Were Trans. They No Longer Do,” told the story of Grace Powell, a 23-year-old biological woman who is de-transitioning from the sex change she underwent years ago. In the piece, Powell reflects on her decision to transition and suggests that she was misled, also pointing out the involvement of transgender activists in promoting a “treatment orthodoxy.”

However, the piece sparked backlash from Times staffers, who felt that it contributed to a hostile work environment for LGBTQ employees. In a screenshot obtained by Wemple, one staffer wrote, “I wish the leadership of this company could understand that the more ‘perspectives’ we publish that basically amount to ‘there should be fewer trans people in society’ absolutely contributes to a hostile work environment.”

The internal criticism was taken seriously by Times management, who promptly removed the posts from a non-workflow channel and counseled the individuals involved. A Times spokesperson explained, “We have multiple channels for our colleagues to discuss their thoughts on our journalism but we do not allow criticism of colleagues and their work in large forums.”

This is not the first time Times staffers have been vocal about their dissatisfaction with the paper’s coverage. In December of 2020, former opinion editor James Bennet penned an essay for The Economist, criticizing the paper for giving in to “illiberal bias” and shutting down opposing viewpoints. Bennet was forced to resign after publishing an op-ed by Senator Tom Cotton that sparked outrage among liberal staffers.

Bennet’s resignation letter echoed the sentiments of former Times opinion columnist Bari Weiss, who also left the paper in 2020, citing a “hostile work environment” and “constant bullying by colleagues.” Weiss accused the paper of promoting a culture of “illiberalism” where opposing viewpoints are not welcome.

In April, LGBTQ Times staffers spoke out against the paper’s Vice President of Inclusion, Natalia Villalobos, for suggesting they air their grievances through a designated Slack channel. Several employees expressed that this could put the safety of staff members at risk and criticized the paper’s commitment to diversity and inclusion as “lip service.”

Last year, almost 200 Times contributors signed an open letter accusing the paper of following the “far-right” in its coverage of transgender issues. In another instance, military correspondent David Philipps publicly criticized the paper for revealing the identity of a source who leaked U.S. military intelligence. He accused the Times of having a double standard and suggested they would have protected the source if he had given information to the paper.

The paper has also faced internal conflict over coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict. The Intercept reported that an episode of the Times’ podcast “The Daily” on sexual violence committed by Hamas was shelved after “intense internal debate.” In a similar incident, Vanity Fair detailed a hostile Slack exchange among Times employees over inaccurate coverage of a Gaza hospital bombing, which was later corrected with an editor’s note. Columnist Thomas L. Friedman also criticized the paper for promoting a false narrative about Israel’s involvement in the bombing.

As the Times continues to grapple with internal dissent, it remains to be seen how the paper will address these issues and maintain its reputation as the nation’s “newspaper of record.”


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