The New York Times is defending their new hire, Sarah Jeong, after her old racially charged tweets surfaced this week and the Twitter mob exploded.
“Oh man its kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men,” Jeong wrote on Twitter in July 2014.
The tweet is one of the many older messages of Jeong’s to go viral. Social media reactions from fellow journalists as well as readers began after images of the controversial tweets surfaced from an unverified Twitter account just hours after her hire was announced in a Wednesday press release. Jeong would join the editorial board as a lead technology writer; she is “staying ahead of every turn on the vast beat that is the internet,” the New York Times said of their new hire.
While the Twitter mob calls for Jeong’s termination, the publication lashed back with a statement defending their new hire and quality of her work, saying they knew about the controversial tweets before hiring her.
“Her journalism and the fact that she is a young Asian woman have made her a subject of frequent online harassment. For a period of time she responded to that harassment by imitating the rhetoric of her harassers.”
After congratulating Jeong on her new job, Elizabeth Lopatto, who works at Verge, said, “Just a shame for all of us her Twitter is about to be a lot less fun.”
Full of racist and offensive tweets, Jeong continually used the hashtag #CancelWhitePeople on her account. However, most of the racist and offensive tweets date back to 2014.
The New York Times later shared a statement from Jeong where she described her controversial behavior as “counter-trolling.”
“As a woman of color on the internet, I have faced torrents of online hate, often along this vein,” she said, giving examples in which someone called her a racial slur on Twitter and another threatened to “sock you right in your lesbian face.”
The New York Times is falling under more criticism for hiring Jeong because of her racists tweets after setting a standard for their writers when firing Quinn Norton just hours after sharing of her hire as its next lead opinion writer. Soon after the hire, users found her old, offensive tweets, leading to her termination.
The publication is still being attacked by the Twitter mob for defending their new hire but ended their public statement with Jeong’s regrets.
“She sees now that this approach only served to feed the vitriol that we too often see on social media. She regrets it, and The Times does not condone it.”