News and Commentary

NY Times: Yes, One of Our Reporters Called Melania Trump a ‘Hooker.’ Sorry About That.

The New York Times admitted on Monday that one of its reporters was spreading the rumor that First Lady Melania Trump had worked as a “hooker” for an escort service.

The acknowledgment came in response to a series of tweets by supermodel Emily Ratajkowski, who took to Twitter on Monday to call out an unnamed New York Times reporter over a conversation she had with the journalist at a New York Fashion Week event Sunday night.

“Sat next to a journalist from the NYT last night who told me ‘Melania is a hooker.’ Whatever your politics it’s crucial to call this out for what it is: slut shaming. I don’t care about her nudes or sexual history and no one should,” wrote Ratajkowski. “Gender specific attacks are disgusting sexist bullsh*t.”

Politico reported later that day that a Times spokesman acknowledged in a statement that one of the paper’s reporters had indeed spread “an unfounded rumor regarding Melania Trump” and said the editors have taken action to reprimand the reporter.

“At a party last night, a Times reporter who does not cover Washington or politics, referred to an unfounded rumor regarding Melania Trump,” said the Times spokesman. “The comment was not intended to be public, but it was nonetheless completely inappropriate and should not have occurred. Editors have talked to the reporter in question about the lapse.”

Before you start thinking the Times has actually somehow stumbled upon its long-lost journalistic integrity, the public acknowledgment and claim that editors have reprimanded the journalist has likely far more to do with legal fears than any sense of propriety. It was obvious that Ratajkowski was not going to back down on her claim, so the Times acted quickly to try to shut down the ugly situation before it got even uglier. The Trumps have made clear they intend to be aggressive in stamping out “unfounded rumors” promoted by the media, particularly regarding the first lady. Ms. Trump has recently settled a defamation suit with Maryland-based blogger Webster Tarpley for a “substantial sum” after he published allegations in August that she had worked for an escort service in the 1990s and had suffered a “nervous breakdown” during the presidential campaign. Melania is currently suing the Daily Mail for $150 million for running a story alleging the same “high-end escort” rumor.

Looks like the Times just learned the hard way that it’s a bad idea to mess with the modeling community and that Ratajkowski is more than just a pretty face.

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