NY Times stands by new hire Sarah Jeong over Twitter furor

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Times reaffirmed its support Thursday for new hire Sarah Jeong after social media criticism of her tweets from several years ago that were derogatory of white people, with both the paper and the writer saying the comments were Jeong’s response to online harassment she had been receiving, but that she regrets her language.

The paper announced Wednesday it was hiring Jeong, a tech writer, to join its editorial board.

Soon after, mainly conservative social media took issue with the tweets, which seem to date to 2013 and 2014, and include statements like “Oh man, it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men.”

In its statement on Twitter, the Times said Jeong’s “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. 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.”

The Times said it reviewed Jeong’s social media during its vetting process.

In her comment, Jeong posted examples of the kinds of harassing tweets she has received, involving calls of violence and racial slurs aimed at her.

She said she had thought of her comments as “counter-trolling,” and that “while it was intended as satire, I deeply regret that I mimicked the language of my harassers. These comments were not aimed at a general audience, because general audiences do not engage in harassment campaigns. I can understand how hurtful these posts are out of context, and would not do it again.”

In February, the Times hired and then revoked its offer to Quinn Norton to join its editorial board after controversy over tweets using gay and racial slurs as well as referring to her friendship with a neo-Nazi. In announcing the revocation, the Times said the information was new to them.