Nikole Hannah-Jones, a staff writer for The New York Times, once used a slur for a black person in a tweet, an apparent violation of the newspaper’s standards that condemn use of the word “regardless of intent.”
Hannah-Jones’ tweet was resurfaced on Monday in a report by The Washington Free Beacon on an internal meltdown by Times staffers over the ousting of Times science writer Donald McNeil Jr. Hannah-Jones at first doxed the Free Beacon reporter who reached out to her for comment, then later apparently erased almost all of her Twitter history. The Free Beacon captured a screenshot of her tweet before Hannah-Jones removed it from her profile.
After a career at the Times spanning more than four decades, the paper’s leadership forced out McNeil on Friday over a two-year-old incident in which he used the racial slur. On a Times-sponsored trip to Peru for high schoolers, McNeil was asked whether a high schooler should be suspended for using the slur in a video made when they were 12 years old. In response, McNeil asked if she had been quoting a song or book when she used the term, using the term in his question.
Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet and Managing Editor Joe Kahn issued a memo on Friday saying that McNeil’s behavior was unacceptable and that no use of the term, regardless of the surrounding context, was appropriate.
“We do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent. We are committed to building a news report and company that reflect our core values of integrity and respect, and will work with urgency to create clearer guidelines and enforcement about conduct in the workplace, including red-line issues on racist language,” Baquet and Kahn said.
Hannah-Jones is the founder of the Times’ 1619 Project, an attempt to reframe American history and the founding of the United States from the principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence to the introduction of slavery in the U.S. The project asserts that the United States’ true founding came in 1619 when the first slave ship arrived in America. Historians have said the project is based on little evidence and is “profoundly flawed.”
In a May 2016 Twitter exchange, Hannah-Jones committed a similar violation as McNeil while defending a black comedian’s use of the n-word at the White House Correspondents Dinner: “Larry Wilmore did not say, ‘You did it, my n****r.’ Come on, now.” (While Hannah-Jones wrote out the full word, The Daily Wire has censored all but the first and last letters.)
In a follow-up tweet, she added, “I did watch and I did read the transcripts. I’m saying you know the linguistic difference b/w n****r and n***a.
It is unclear what action, if any, the Times plans to take against Hannah-Jones for her tweet. In addition, Hannah-Jones is not the only staffer other than McNeil to have used the slur in some capacity. Times reporter Astead Herndon has also reportedly used the term, according to the Free Beacon. The New York Times did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Wire.