The New York Times has demoted its deputy Washington editor, Jonathan Weisman, over his behavior on social media.
A spokesperson for the Times told TheWrap in a statement that Weisman met with Executive Editor Dean Baquet on Tuesday and “apologized for his recent serious lapses in judgment.”
“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,” the statement read. “We don’t typically discuss personnel matters but we’re doing so in this instance with Jonathan’s knowledge.”
The spokesperson declined to elaborate on what exactly Weisman’s new role would be and what he will cover in the future.
Weisman told the Times’ media reporter Marc Tracy that he accepted and agreed with Baquet’s decision. “I embarrassed the newspaper, and he had to act,” Weisman said.
The demotion comes after Weisman initiated a number of controversies online over his tweets. Late last month, the journalist wrote — and then deleted — a tweet which seemingly questioned the ability of congressional members Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Lloyd Doggett, and John Lewis to accurately represent the regions that their constituents are in.
“Saying @RashidaTlaib (D-Detroit) and @IlhanMN (D-Minneapolis) are 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.
Another tweet, sent last Wednesday, stated that the Justice Democrats political action committee was backing a different candidate “seeking to unseat an African-American Democrat” but failed to acknowledge that the endorsed candidate, Morgan Harper, is also black. When she pointed that out to Weisman on Twitter, he responded by saying that the endorsement “included a photo.”
@justicedems's endorsement included a photo.
— (((JonathanWeisman))) (@jonathanweisman) August 7, 2019
The tweet was criticized by Roxane Gay, who is also an occasional contributor to the Times: “Any time you think you’re unqualified for a job,” Gay wrote on Twitter, “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.”
Gay later added on Twitter that Weisman had reached out to her, her assistant, and her publisher to demand an “enormous apology” for her critique.
The Times issued a public rebuke of Weisman’s “poor judgment on social media and in responding to criticism” and said that the paper would examine “what to do about it.”
Gay responded to Weisman’s demotion Tuesday by tweeting: “He didn’t lose his job and that’s fine because I am not a cruel person. But it is also frustrating that a lot of his behavior will go unchecked. Will he truly understand what he did wrong here or will he chalk it up to the so-called Twitter mob?”
“The far greater issue is his pronounced blindspot with regard to race and a demotion, on its own, isn’t going to fix that, so what, truly, is accomplished here? I don’t know but I hope he reads some books with his extra free time,” Gay added in a separate tweet.