Donald G. McNeil Gives His Account Of The Struggle Session At The NYT That Got Him Fired For Being Unapologetically White
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The New York Times’ lead pandemic reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. got forced out of his 45-year-career over, more or less, the high crime of being an Old White Man With a Good Job Who Acts Like He Deserves It. He answers back here:

I’m publishing my thoughts here on Medium because I know journalists.

We make America what it is — without a free press, democracy dies. But we’re still jackals. We can befriend you for years, and then bite off your arm just as you’re offering us a treat. We can’t help it. It’s the nature of the job.

… That’s the game. I’m somewhat relieved to be out of it. But after 50 years, if you count writing for my high school magazine, I’ll probably never be able to shake the habits.

Since January 28, I’ve been a jackal circled by jackals. Since not every journalist gets quotes right, on the rare occasions in my life that I’ve answered journalists’ questions, I’ve tried to do so in writing. That way, either they get it right or I can prove I was misquoted….

I chose this route so I can control at least one part of the narrative: my own. If you submit to filtering by another journalist, you’re answering only his or her questions. When he writes, he chooses the bits that he thinks are important. And tiny shades of nuance can cast a whole story in a different light. Am I principled? Old-school? Blunt? Cranky? Or “the end of the asshole era” at the Times, as Vanity Fair let an anonymous source describe me? Was I speaking to innocent schoolchildren? Or to privileged prep schoolers burnishing their resumés? Am I a long-time science reporter? A veteran science reporter? A star reporter? A legendary reporter? During February, without having published a single article, I won battlefield promotions from “long-time” to “legendary” from a dozen reporters who described me — for their own purposes — without ever speaking to me.

Am I really an asshole? I don’t think so. …

Now, there is an exception: if you’re an editor and you write an error into my copy, I can definitely be an asshole. …

One last thought: what’s happened to me has been called a “witch hunt.” It isn’t. It’s a series of misunderstandings and blunders. I may be the only living Times reporter who has actually covered a witch hunt — in Zimbabwe in 1997. They inevitably end worse for the accused. I’m at least getting my say. …

As a commenter says, this isn’t a witch hunt, this is a white hunt.

I’ll tell my story in three further parts:

What Happened on Jan. 28 and Thereafter?

What Happened during the August 2019 Times Investigation?

What Happened in Peru?

One often overlooked aspect of this story is that McNeil is a veteran union activist who was on the team representing the workers in the upcoming negotiations with management over the next contract. So, management got to fire a long-time thorn in its side over labor issues in the name of Wokeness, perhaps sending a message to other veteran union leaders that maybe they shouldn’t try quite so hard to get on the Sulzbergers’ bad side because who knows what an inquisition might find out about something they said in the past.

Funny how that works …

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