New York Times Demotes Editor for Twitter Posts, Says He Won’t ‘Be Active on Social Media’ Anymore

August 14, 2019 Updated: August 14, 2019

The New York Times demoted an editor for posts he made on Twitter and said he wouldn’t be posting on the social media platform any longer.

The paper said executive editor Dean Baquet met with Jonathan Weisman, a deputy Washington editor, on Aug. 13.

“Jonathan Weisman met with Dean today and apologized for his recent serious lapses in judgment,” the paper said in a statement sent to news outlets. “As a consequence of his actions, he has been demoted and will no longer be overseeing the team that covers Congress or be active on social media. We don’t typically discuss personnel matters but we’re doing so in this instance with Jonathan’s knowledge.”

Like many at the paper, Weisman would frequently post on the social media platform and express opinions once kept private by journalists and other media employees.

Media watchers pinpointed two missives Weisman sent recently that provoked ire among progressives, a group the Times has increasingly courted since President Donald Trump assumed office.

In July, Weisman argued that Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who live in deeply blue cities in states that are close to or lean rural, don’t represent the Midwest.

“Saying [they’re] from the Midwest is like saying @RepLloydDoggett (D-Austin) is from Texas or @repjohnlewis (D-Atlanta) is from the Deep South. C’mon,” Weisman tweeted on July 31. He later deleted the missive and wrote: “Earlier this morning I tried to make a point about regional differences in politics between urban and rural areas. I deleted the tweets because I realize I did not adequately make my point.”

In another post sent on Aug. 7, Weisman reacted to an announcement by the progressive Justice Democrats that they were backing Morgan Harper against an African American incumbent.

“Justice Democrats has backed another primary challenger, this one seeking to unseat an African-American Democrat, Joyce Beatty, who represents Columbus,” he wrote.

Harper responded, writing, “I am also black.”

He responded to her, saying, “Justice Dem’s endorsement included a photo.”

Roxane Gay, a progressive author who sometimes contributes to the Times, was among those reacting negatively to the posts, writing: “Any time you think you’re unqualified for a job, remember that this guy, telling a black woman she isn’t black because he looked at a picture and can’t see, has one of the most prestigious jobs in America.”

She later claimed that Weisman had demanded an “enormous apology” for her criticism of him.

Screenshots showed an email, allegedly sent by Weisman, saying he was “surprised to see your ad hominem attack on me on Twitter.”

“You misconstrued my rather innocuous tweet, willfully or mistakenly, accused me of racism, and incompetence, seemed to want me fired, and since I have not written off Twitter completely, I was hoping to speak to communicate to clarify my meaning and to understand yours,” he apparently wrote.

Weisman’s last Twitter post was on Aug. 7.

He did not tell his followers that he had finished posting on Twitter and has not posted about his demotion.

Weisman told Marc Tracy, a media reporter with the paper: “I accept Dean’s judgment. I think he’s right to do what he’s doing. I embarrassed the newspaper, and he had to act.”

The demotion comes after two high-profile reassignments in recent years. Ali Watkins, a Washington reporter, was reassigned to Philadelphia last year after she had a romantic relationship with James Wolfe, the director of security for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Glenn Thrush, a White House reporter, was suspended and removed from that team because of alleged sexually improper behavior. He was reassigned to another post.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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