New York Times fires editor targeted by rightwing critics over Biden tweet

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Adam Gabbatt
·3 min read
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<span>Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

A row has broken out over accusations that a New York Times journalist was fired after being targeted by rightwing critics for tweeting she had “chills” at seeing Joe Biden’s plane land at Joint Base Andrews.

Lauren Wolfe, who had been working as an editor at the Times, posted the message on 19 January, as Biden arrived ahead of his inauguration as president the next day.

Two days later, Wolfe was let go by the Times, after her tweet was picked up by rightwing social media users and news outlets, who used Wolfe’s tweet to allege claims of media bias.

Wolfe, a seasoned journalist who has written for the Guardian, said she has since been subjected to a torrent of abuse in the wake of the incident, including being followed by a photographer as she walked her dog.

The New York Times responded to criticism on Sunday, after many members of the media rallied to Wolfe’s defense.

“There’s a lot of inaccurate information circulating on Twitter,” Danielle Rhoades Ha, a spokeswoman for the Times, told the Washington Post.

“For privacy reasons we don’t get into the details of personnel matters, but we can say that we didn’t end someone’s employment over a single tweet. Out of respect for the individuals involved, we don’t plan to comment further.”

The Times added that Wolfe was not a full-time employee but was instead working on a contract basis. On Sunday, The Times workers’ union, however, said it was “investigating the situation”.

“We believe all our members deserve due process and just cause protections, the very rights that are fundamental to independent, objective journalism,” the TimesGuild said.

CNN host Jake Tapper was among those to share details of Wolfe’s situation, while journalists Kirsten Powers and Jeremy Scahill also criticized the Times.

The attention from the right did not stop once it emerged Wolfe was no longer working at the Times. Wolfe shared some of the abusive messages she had been sent, one of which called for her to develop cancer, while the conservative New York Post ran a series of paparazzi-style photos of Wolfe walking her dog in New York City,

The Daily Mail, a rightwing British newspaper with a popular website, extrapolated from Wolfe’s tweet that there had been a “huge amount of gushing” towards Biden in the media, something the Mail said will “do nothing to restore any kind of trust in the media”.

Many of Wolfe’s defenders noted that the Times did not fire reporter Glenn Thrush after multiple women accused him of sexually inappropriate behavior in 2017. The Times suspended Thrush for two months, and executive editor Dean Baquet said the journalist had “behaved in ways that we do not condone”, but Thrush kept his job.