The New York Times terminated an editor who tweeted about having “chills” watching President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Business Insider reports.
"Biden landing at Joint Base Andrews now. I have chills," Lauren Wolfe tweeted on January 19, along with a screenshot of Biden’s plane landing ahead of his swearing-in. Wolfe also tweeted that it was “childish” for former President Donald Trump to not give Biden a military plane to fly to the inauguration but deleted it after people pointed out that Biden chose to fly on his own plane.
The Times canceled Wolfe’s contract after her tweets came under criticism and drew allegations of bias.
The outlet disputed that it fired Wolfe only because of the tweet. It also said that Wolfe was not a full-time employee and worked on a freelance basis.
"For privacy reasons we don't go into the details of personnel matters, but we can say that we didn't end someone's employment over a single tweet," a spokesperson said. "Out of respect for the individuals involved, we don't plan to comment further."
The New York Times union said it is “investigating the situation” and believes “all our members deserve due process and just cause protections.”
“The New York Times management decision to terminate the employment of Lauren Wolfe was done outside of the just case protections of our contract due to her classification as a casual employee,” the union said. “We have reached out to her offering support and representation.”
Wolfe, an award-winning reporter who has largely documented sexual violence against women in war zones, said on Twitter that the firing has impacted her economically but urged people not to cancel their Times subscriptions in protest of her firing.
"Hard to fathom all the talk of 'cancel culture' on my timeline while I'm left without an income during a pandemic," she tweeted. "I'm not an ideology, I'm a hard-working person who can no longer pay her bills."
"I truly appreciate everyone's support but I need to ask you a favor: PLEASE don't unsubscribe from @nytimes," she added. "I have loved this paper and its mission my whole life. Their journalism is some of the most important & best in the world, & they need to be read widely."
Journalists defend Wolfe:
Many journalists faulted the New York Times for not having a clear social media policy and for ceding to bad-faith complaints of bias over the tweet.
“On Saturday I delivered a commentary about the monumental nature of Joe Biden replacing an insurrectionist dangerous President. Everything I stated was fact,” wrote MSNBC’s Ali Velshi. “All Lauren @Wolfe321 said was that she had chills from the same transition of power. She lost her job at @nytimes. Why?”
“NYT should not have fired Lauren @Wolfe321, especially when other journos at the paper have done far worse recently and kept their jobs,” said Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez. “Knee-jerk firings in response to online harassment campaigns only further embolden harassers — and put ALL journalists at risk.”
“Most news orgs are still struggling with their social media policies, letting many bad tweets go unpunished while cracking down hard on others in response to targeted harassment campaigns. It’s wrong and needs to stop,” she added. Policies should be applied fairly, and .if a tweet truly crosses the line, it should lead to a discussion with editors, not a scramble to fire the writer due to fear. The person most harmed in this case, obviously, is @Wolfe321. But every time a news org caves to an online harassment campaign, we’re all less safe.”