Racism is at the heart of every issue in the United States – and should be incorporated into every story reported by one of the nation’s largest papers, according to a New York Times staff member. The idea that “racism is in everything” and part of the “foundation of all systems” in the country arose during a meeting last week, and was published by Slate.
The meeting was a crisis town hall, organized by executive editor of the New York Times Dean Baquet. The focus of the meeting was coverage of the recent mass shooting in El Paso, Texas and the backlash the paper received from the left based on a headline they ran shortly thereafter. The New York Times ran a piece about President Donald Trump and his condemnation of the accused shooter. The headline read “Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism”. Complaints from the left were swift to arrive – the paper was lambasted for printing a headline that showed the president’s actions in a positive light instead of the usual negative spin preferred by the left.
After receiving multiple complaints and callouts, the paper changed the headline to “Assailing Hate But Not Guns” for the second edition.
During the meeting, staff was permitted to submit questions anonymously; one staffer asked Baquet if he agreed that the US was built on white supremacy and racism. The speaker also requested that the “racism is in all things” be incorporated into the paper’s coverage of news stories.
The transcript was shared with Slate, who published it in its entirety:
Staffer: “Hello, I have another question about racism. I’m wondering to what extent you think that the fact of racism and white supremacy being sort of the foundation of this country should play into our reporting. Just because it feels to me like it should be a starting point, you know?”
They continued: “Like these conversations about what is racist, what isn’t racist. I just feel like racism is in everything. It should be considered in our science reporting, in our culture reporting, in our national reporting. And so, to me, it’s less about the individual instances of racism, and sort of how we’re thinking about racism and white supremacy as the foundation of all of the systems in the country.”
The exchange was the beginning of a longer conversation, which included Baquet’s repeated apologies for the positive Trump headline. He was asked if the outraged response on social media was behind the changing of the headline and responded:
“We were all—it was a f**king mess—we were all over the headline. Me. Matt. The print hub. Probably [assistant managing editor] Alison [Mitchell]. We were all over it, and then in the middle of it, [deputy managing editor] Rebecca Blumenstein sent an email—but we were already messing with it saying, ‘You should know, there’s a social media firestorm over the headline,'” Baquet said.
The Times has already begin to embrace the concept of “racists everywhere”’ the paper’s Washington editor was recently demoted after some users on Twitter called him a racist. While he apologized, the paper revoked his social media privileges and demoted him to a lesser role at the paper.