The Intersection of Our Racial Debate and Dishonest Journalists

Journalism isn’t in good shape these days, so it isn’t surprising when it comes in contact with tough issues things will not go well. One big issue with journalism is how there are so many people in journalism who just shouldn’t be there. A lot of those people are journalists who are not honest, which is kind of a problem in a profession that is supposed to be about getting to the truth. That issue has now reared its head for a second time in less than a month in situations involving discussions around the “n-word” at news outlets. I previously posted about a couple of The New York Time’s black journalists, who cover race, being dishonest in comments surrounding was going on at a situation at the Times involving that. I guess if that would happen at the Times, then it wouldn’t be a real surprise if that it could happen at Slate as well.

In a New York Times story about the situation involving Slate suspending Mike Pesca, it ends with a quote from another Slate journalist Joel Anderson:

Joel Anderson, a Black staff member at Slate who hosted the third season of the podcast “Slow Burn,” disagreed. “For Black employees, it’s an extremely small ask to not hear that particular slur and not have debate about whether it’s OK for white employees to use that particular slur,” he said.

Since then multiple white members of the media have cited that quote in tweets and said they agree with it. In response to one of those, Thomas Chatterton Williams, author and contributor to The New York Times Magazine, who is black of mixed race background, wrote:

I mean, Joel Anderson has used that term in reference to me on this website.

In a follow up tweet he wrote:

My only intention was to highlight that people like Anderson don’t care at all about hearing the slur. He tweets it to a mixed audience all the time. It’s a bluff.

I can’t confirm that that to be true as when I went to look Joel Anderson’s Twitter account it was gone, with a message in its place “This account doesn’t exist“. Through a Google search I could confirm that he used the term and not just in quoting someone else, though what they were showing didn’t include him calling someone else it. What I have seen consistently so far is that journalists who are wiping out their accounts, are the bad ones.

One of Thomas Chatterton Williams Time’s colleagues might have unintentionally shed light on why someone might lie about their concern with the usage of the word. Dana Goldstein, a national correspondent for the Times, after quoting Joel Anderson, wrote this (emphasis mine):

The ethics here are clear. Do we care for our colleagues, or not? This debate is so boring. Arguing in favor of being able to “quote” this word or other slurs verbally is a proxy battle over who is valued, powerful, and heard.

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