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17 February 2023

The New York Times is eating itself

NYT editors have rebuked staff and contributors for critiquing the paper’s coverage of trans issues.

By The Chatterer

High drama at the New York Times. On Wednesday (15 February) hundreds of NYT contributors signed an open letter attacking the newspaper’s coverage of trans issues.

The letter, addressed to the NYT’s associate managing editor for standards, Philip Corbett, accused the title of having “treated gender diversity with an eerily familiar mix of pseudoscience and euphemistic, charged language, while publishing reporting on trans children that omits relevant information about its sources”.    

On the same day the Times received another letter, also addressing its trans coverage, from campaign groups led by GLAAD, an LGBTQ media advocacy organisation. The signatories called on the Times to “stop printing inaccurate and harmful misinformation about transgender people and issues”.

On Thursday Joseph Kahn, the NYT‘s executive editor, and Kathleen Kingsbury, its opinion editor, hit back hard.  

In an internal email, leaked to the US media last night, they rebuked “members of our staff and contributors” for joining campaign groups in critiquing editorial coverage. They noted that some NYT writers had been called out by name despite a “clear policy prohibiting Times journalists from attacking one another’s journalism publicly or signaling their support for such attacks”. They said they did “not welcome, and will not tolerate, participation by Times journalists in protests organized by advocacy groups or attacks on colleagues on social media and other public forums”.  

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Organisers of the contributor-signed letter to Corbett accused Kahn and Kingsbury of conflating the two letters to “dismiss the well-documented complaint of editorial bias detailed in our letter”. They said that, although the timing of the two letters was co-ordinated, they were “very different documents”. “We await a courteous reply,” they added.

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Questions remain. Will New York Times editors provide a “courteous reply”? What did they mean when they said they would “not tolerate” the actions of the signatories? And how will staff and contributors react to Kahn and Kingsbury’s rebuke?  

The Chatterer does not expect this dispute to fizzle out any time soon.

[See also: Trans activists ask us to redefine what most consider to be truth]

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