New York Times editor Lauren Wolfe was fired by the outlet last week after a tweet saying that the sight of Joe Biden arriving in Washington DC gave her chills and another that called Donald Trump petty. The Times has been roundly condemned for the decision, and I will add to that condemnation, but for a bit of a different reason.
The problem with firing Wolfe for making her political leanings so blatantly obvious is that the political leanings of 95 percent of The New York Times staff are also blatantly obvious. Wolfe is not going to be replaced by someone who is actually unbiased; she will be replaced by someone with exactly the same bias but who keeps it better hidden.
What the Times is doing to Wolfe is shameful and cruel. They have created an incredibly far-left newsroom that laughably calls itself neutral and then are sacrificing her in some pointless and vain attempt to maintain that lie. Wolfe was not fired because hordes of conservatives demanded it. In fact, few if any did. She was fired so the Times could point to the firing and absurdly claim that have no bias.
This is reminiscent of a controversy back in 2018 when the Gray Lady hired tech reporter Sarah Jeong despite her history of tweeting insulting things about white people. The Times defended the hiring but condemned the tweets. Here’s what I wrote in these pages about that at the time:
Jeong should not be fired, because a handful of offensive tweets should not end a person’s career. But we must be clear that The New York Times is being dishonest. In fact, it does condone Jeong’s statements denigrating white people. How do we know this is true? Because if such statements had been made about any other racial group, there is absolutely no question that the writer would have been fired immediately.
In both cases, the central issue was not whether somebody should lose her job, but institutional bias within The New York Times itself. The same can be said about the ouster of former opinion page Editor James Bennett after a revolt in the Times building caused by Bennett running an article by Sen. Tom Cotton urging the use of the National Guard to protect our cities this summer.
That ouster was also a bad one, but again, not the central issue. The central issue became as clear as a new set of glasses last week when 25,000 Guardsmen descended on Washington DC to protect our political class. Suddenly the idea was no longer outrageous but a good decision meant to quell a supposed insurrection.
Put simply, the problem at The New York Times is not this employee or that; it is The New York Times itself. All newspapers have bias, including their crosstown rival The New York Post, where I also write columns. But even the Post was capable of a cover story telling President Donald Trump to stop saying the election was stolen. The Times made no such efforts after the Russian collusion hoax was exposed. They just memory holed it and went on with business as usual.
The fact of the matter is that we are better off with Wolfe wearing her leanings on Twitter than we are having her hide them. We all know that this symbolic firing will do nothing to cure what ails the nation’s largest newspaper, it just takes a livelihood away from someone who believes exactly what everyone else in the building believes.
It seems unlikely that this wrongheaded decision will be reversed, although it should. We should all hope that Wolfe — who it appears was perfectly good at her job — finds employment elsewhere. The cynical firing further sullies a news brand that much of the country simply has no faith in, and for very good reason. Until the underlying rot at The New York Times is cured, it doesn’t matter who or how many get fired.
For now the legacy outlet just cannot be taken seriously as an unbiased source of news. That’s a shame, but at least we know where they stand, even if they are not honest enough to own up to it.