When the New York Times announced it was hiring respected tech reporter, Sarah Jeong, to join its editorial board, it took about a nanosecond for a far-right group to find some of Jeong’s earlier tweets aimed at white people and accuse her of racism.
Jeong is Asian American, and in 2013 and 2014, her tweets included the following:
“Are white people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins.”
I just realized why I can't stand watching Breaking Bad or Battlestar Galactica. The premise of both is just "white people being miserable"
— sarah jeong (@sarahjeong) August 9, 2013
Dumbass fucking white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants
— sarah jeong (@sarahjeong) November 29, 2014
Jeong has apologized saying, “I engaged in what I thought of at the time of counter-trolling. While it was intended as satire, I deeply regret that I mimicked the language of my harassers. These comments were not aimed at a general audience, because general audiences do not engage in harassment campaigns. I can understand how hurtful these posts are out of context, and would not do it again.”
The New York Times on Thursday insisted it was aware of Jeong’s remarks, and it’s standing by her. It said her comments were reactions to vicious online bashing attacking her background, the New York Post reported.
But the Times also said that it did not condone the “type of rhetoric” Jeong used.
Our statement in response to criticism of the hiring of Sarah Jeong. pic.twitter.com/WryIgbaoqg
— NYTimes Communications (@NYTimesPR) August 2, 2018
This is just one in a slew of high-profile hirings and firings where virtual mobs are venting their outrage.
Roseanne Barr lost her hit TV show for posting racist tweets. One of the people who criticized her was Hollywood director James Gunn, who tweeted: “Roseanne is allowed to say whatever she wants. It doesn’t mean @ABCNetwork needs to continue funding her show if her words are considered abhorrent.” Two months later, Gunn’s own past offensive tweets were dug up and he lost his job directing the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise.
Jonah Goldberg wrote about the virtual-mob mentality in a Chicago Tribune commentary:
“The back-and-forth reprisals resemble a mob war. And each time, the decision to fire — or not fire — invites entirely legitimate charges of hypocrisy, which prime the kindling for the inevitable next bonfire. At the same time, people shouldn’t tweet — or say — indefensibly stupid, racist or dumb things on the assumption that only ‘their people’ will see it, hear it or process it in precisely the way the author intended. As Jeong has learned, we all live in one ‘general audience’ now.”
Taking tweets out of context and weaponizing them against liberal writers is the latest tactic by the alt-right, Inkoo Kang wrote in Slate.
“The alt-right is on the hunt for journalists’ heads …This week, the target of organized conservative trolls is tech and legal reporter Sarah Jeong, a widely respected thinker set to join the New York Times’ editorial board next month. The far-right Gateway Pundit got the ball rolling by claiming that Jeong’s Twitter is ‘littered with racist filth,’ and other, more respectable sites, like Fox News and the National Review, have since followed suit.”
— sarah jeong (@sarahjeong) November 18, 2014
Hi all, I have a statement about the tweets that have been going around:
— sarah jeong (@sarahjeong) August 2, 2018
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