Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times, decided to give science reporter Donald McNeil a second chance despite finding that he’d made offensive (allegedly quite racist) remarks on a trip with schoolchildren. Fair enough — but how does that square with the Times’ crucifixion of ESPN’s Doug Adler a few years back?
Adler’s only “crime” was to describe Venus Williams’ play at the net as “guerilla” tactics. But, as our own Phil Mushnick has reported repeatedly, a Times critic took it as “gorilla” — and that was enough not only to get ESPN to fire Adler, but to destroy his career.
And no matter that “guerilla” is used often enough in tennis talk that Nike made an ad with Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras playing “guerilla tennis.”
McNeil, meanwhile, faced claims from multiple sources that he made sexist and racist remarks on a Times-organized 2019 student trip. He allegedly used the N-word and insisted white supremacy doesn’t exist.
Yet, after an investigation, Baquet decided that McNeil’s intentions weren’t “hateful or malicious” and so opted to “formally discipline” the ace science reporter.
Again, that’s perfectly reasonable. Depending of course on the full circumstances, we’re all good with people getting a second chance rather than professional execution. But the Times has never returned to the Adler case — surely Baquet owes the guy at least an apology?
Then again, heads rolled in the Times’ opinion section last year after it published an oped by a US senator arguing that military force should be mobilized to prevent Black Lives Matter protesters from rampaging in Washington DC, on the grounds the argument was intrinsically racist.
Ironically, the paper now seems perfectly happy to have DC militarized for weeks in the wake of the Jan. 6 right-wing rampage at the US Capitol. Double standards seem to abound at the Gray Lady.
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