She Was Hired by the NYT. Then Her Old Tweets Surfaced

Newspaper sticks by Sarah Jeong over posts some say were racist
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2018 11:20 AM CDT
She Was Hired by the NYT . Then Her Old Tweets Surfaced
In this Oct. 13, 2015, file photo, the Twitter logo appears on a phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

On Wednesday, the New York Times announced tech writer Sarah Jeong would join its editorial board. By Thursday it was running a follow-up, noting outrage over what the BBC calls "inflammatory" tweets about white people Jeong had posted between 2013 and 2015. In her posts, Jeong, born in South Korea and raised in the US, referred to whites as "dogs" and "groveling goblins," used the hashtag #CancelWhitePeople, and made remarks such as one in 2014 in which she wrote: "Oh man it's kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men." Right-wing websites started circulating the tweets after the hiring announcement. In a statement, the New York Times says it knew about Jeong's tweets before it hired her, explained she'd been the target of "frequent online harassment," and that her reaction tweets had been an attempt to "[imitate] the rhetoric of her harassers."

The statement adds Jeong, 30, "sees now that this approach only served to feed the vitriol that we too often see on social media. She regrets it, and the Times does not condone it." In her own statement, Jeong expresses "[deep] regret" and says at the time she thought she was just "counter-trolling," with her tweets intended as "satire." The Washington Post speaks to the debate that has emerged in the wake of the Jeong incident, asking the question: "Is it OK to make fun of white people online?" But both HuffPost and the Verge (Jeong's current employer) come out in defense of Jeong, saying newsrooms must stand up for employees when they're targeted by bad-faith trolls with "outrage campaigns" who purposely try to place tweets and other remarks out of context in an effort to disavow their targets. The hubbub comes months after the Times fired new hire Quinn Norton for her own questionable tweets. (More New York Times stories.)

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