Ethics Quiz: Fairness To Lauren Wolfe

NY Times

The New York Times dumped editor Lauren Wolfe yesterday. I had written about Wolfe a few days ago:

“Biden landing at Joint Base Andrews now. I have chills,” New York Times editor Lauren Wolfe said in a tweet yesterday with a screenshot of a report from CNN showing Biden’s plane landing….Wolfe was immediately mocked and excoriated on social media, so she returned with several tweets denying any bias and claiming that she was just naturally exited about a historic moment. Riiiiight. Among her tweets,

  • “I’m shocked that you all don’t feel the importance. Such historical events are deeply moving and thrilling. This attempt to shit on me is nothing more than shortsighted presumption”
  • “So a bunch of people think me being excited for the transfer of power tomorrow is somehow disgusting/idiotic/against journalism. It’s a shame. We should all be interested on historical moments”
  • (to Brit Hume) “Really, Brit? You’ve never felt excited at historical moments? Stop inciting your fans who are coming after me with threats. This was an innocuous tweet and you know it.”

Of course, it was a biased tweet that exposed her and the Times’ unethical bias that screams out from the paper every single day, and she knows it. Wolfe eventually deleted the tweets, which are similarly self-indicting.

On what basis was Wolfe fired? Surely not for being biased in favor of the Democratic President! The entire paper is biased that way and flagrantly so. The Times offices has to be teeming with staffers and editors openly basking in Donald Trump’s defeat. Wolfe must have been surrounded by people talking about their “chills.” The Times can’t possibly care about political bias; if it did, it would hide its own better. It wouldn’t keep putting progressive hacks and Democratic Party operatives with press credentials on its op-ed pages.

It certainly isn’t fair to fire Wolfe for stating on social media a bias that the Times tolerates and approves.

Could they have fired here for being transparent about her bias, which the paper shares? Can that be? Isn’t a newspaper supposed to stand for the truth and transparency? Sure, here it is: “Our mission is simple: We seek the truth and help people understand the world…” Isn’t the Times part of the world? Didn’t Wolfe’s tweet help people understand the Times, and why it slants, manipulates and otherwise distorts news for its own agenda?

Or maybe Wolfe was fired, not for proving her bias, but for so incompetently and obviously lying about what her tweet meant. Here, the Times would seem to be on more solid ground, but not much. Firing an editor for not being a more effective liar seems a bit sinister. On the other hand, would Wolfe’s bosses have preferred her to have responded to critics, “You’re right, I’m thrilled that Biden was elected. So is the whole staff here. This is a surprise to you? Have you read the New York Times lately?”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Was it fair for the Times To Fire Lauren Wolfe?

23 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: Fairness To Lauren Wolfe

  1. post hoc ergo propter hoc, Jack. We don’t know what went on behind the scenes. For all we know, she was sleeping with an elephant and writing about the circus – something Rosenthal (God, to have him back) warned meant would get you booted from the Times.

    It definitely walks like a duck, and looks like a duck. And it smells like duck shit. But… we still need more information. On the pond today, I saw a grebe and a common merganser. To those who can’t tell the difference, they can easily be mistaken for ducks.

  2. She knew the world she was working in and she knew the rules. She violated by being too obvious. Yes, it was fair for them to fire her ass.

    • No organization with a halfway competent HR department would, unless said individual was caught openly violating the law.

      I mean, it happens all the time, but even incompetent organizations clam up when the story is embarrassing… in fact, it can be one of the tells.

  3. To me it would only be fair if it was part of a wider clean-up operation. If, prior to the tweet, the head honchos had announced both to the staff and to the public, that going forward there will be no expressions of bias or favoritism, that they are imposing new standards of balanced reporting AND social media posts, then they would be obliged to fire or at least give a clear warning to Wolfe and everyone else who allowed obvious bias to show (though if Wolfe had tweeted about the chills at Trump’s inauguration as well, she’d arguably be safe).

    But if there is no purge, if the NYT stands by it’s current reporting and work environment, then it seems like they’re just throwing Wolfe under the bus, unless her firing was for reasons completely different from what we’re assuming here.

  4. By the rules of her clan, they were right to banish her. It’s OK to play the outsiders for fools, but don’t get careless and tip them off to the con.

  5. This is assuming that there is not something else here of which I’m unaware.

    On one hand the NYT is being *somewhat* consistent by buckling under pressure and firing an employee for having the temerity to have an opinion or post an op ed that made people upset. I find it difficult to get too worked up, given many of the same folks complaining were likely fully behind James Bennett getting canned.

    However, given the seriousness of the “violation” (Wow! I just figured out that the Times is biased! Whodathunkit?), I certainly don’t think the punishment fits the crime. The response (if any was even necessary) is unfair and disproportionate.

    Unfortunately, Ms Wolfe has the misfortune to work for a group of sniveling cowards that didn’t have the backbone to stand up and defend journalistic freedom six months ago, and now feel bound to fire her because of precedent. If someone needs to be out of a job for cause, it’s not Lauren Wolfe.

  6. As George Will would say, it’s condign justice. The AUC’s flagrantly double standards are going to burn them. Feeling the pain the of sacrificing their own to the insatiable demands of the mob may be the only thing that snaps them back to acting even remotely ethically, for self-preservation’s sake.

  7. Sometimes evil marrs evil, but it is still evil. It was wrong to fire her for missing the memo that after four years of relentless shameless bias the NYT’s new line is that it is unbiased, but she was still wrong to be biased.

    It’s not a trainwreck, more an ethics fender-bender.

    • Agree on both points.

      It probably breaches journalistic ethics, so good she was fired.

      It is hypocritical for the Times to suddenly recognize standards it deliberately ignored for more than 4 years. So it was bad she was fired.

      To be sure I have covered all bases, everybody was doing it, suggesting that this might be an exception to the journalistic rules. Considering that the peaceful transition of power is something we take pride in and celebrate as a nation, is this an occasion where such comments are permissible. Indeed, because this is a position about which there should be universal agreement, it is not subject to the general rule. (Because the Times didn’t fire her for her equally enthusiastic celebration of Trump’s inauguration 4 years ago, tweets that I will dig up as soon as I gave nothing better to do, and, right now, I have dishes to clean.)


      • “It is hypocritical for the Times to suddenly recognize standards it deliberately ignored for more than 4 years.”

        Especially after the bogus Soul Searching Journey upon which they claimed they’d embark after 2016 and the SAVAGE BEATDOWN brutally administered by former editor Michael Cieply.

  8. Once upon a time, the Nazi Minister for Education was a devoted follower named Bernhard Rust. After convincing German parents that their children would get a better education in public schools – which offered some religious education – as opposed to private, religious ones, most church-run schools in Germany were closed.

    Abruptly, Rust ordered all crosses and religious symbols removed from Christian classrooms and the religious education to end.

    This bait and switch outraged German parents so Hitler fired him.

    Not because Hitler disagreed with him, but because Rust was an idiot who moved too quickly and should have waited a few months before removing the crosses.

    That’s what I think about this story.

    It’s not the NYT disagreed with her, but she just reacted too quickly.

    I could be wrong. Maybe Wolfe was already on thin ice for something else and this was just a convenient excuse to toss her and appease conservatives by pretending to be fair. Maybe she’s just an easy bone to throw to Republicans like the way the Democrats abandoned Al Franken. Maybe this is just another example of businesses dropping embarrassing employees…although there are so many more significant examples of Times’ employees embarrassing their employer. But Wolfe is white so it’s easier to ditch her than Nikole Hannah-Jones.

    I can’t tell you if it’s ethical for them to do so, but it’s definitely hypocritical.

    • I think it’s a combination of all of the above, plus a lack of need. Despite common thinking, the top Nazis were methodical, not fanatical. They grasped that there was a right and a wrong way to do things and a proper application of limited resources and power that was greater than ANYONE else’s, but not greater than EVERYONE else’s. The Nazis didn’t handle Denmark with a light(er) touch because the King of Denmark said that he himself would wear the Jewish star if they pushed making the place judenrein. They handled it that way because the Danish were mostly giving them what they wanted and not making themselves difficult to rule, so they decided not to upset the applecart – for the moment. Had the war progressed better and the Reich become more secure sooner, THEN they would have returned to finish the job. They also purged the early storm troopers and sacked the obvious fanatics like Rust and poison-pen publisher Julius Streicher precisely because they were attracting the wrong kind of attention.

      Right now the political left wants to spread the big lie that they are the sane ones and the ones looking to work with reasonable people to get this nation back to normalcy after the crazy ride with Trump. They are holding the Senate with no margin for error and the House by the thinnest of threads. For the moment they need to persuade “decent conservatives” and “reasonable independents” to go along with them, otherwise any proposal they advance is likely to be either dead in the water or likely to get significantly reduced. In order to get enough folks who are NOT true believers to go along with their proposals they need to look reasonable, and they need reasonable messengers. A messenger who talks in terms of thrills and chills sounds like executed murderess Karla Faye Tucker, who talked about getting intense orgasms each time she struck a helpless woman with a pickaxe. It sounds doubly worse with regard to a doddering old fool like Biden, as opposed to young, hip, cool, and above all, black, Obama.

      Look here, different things move different people different ways, the same as different things make different people laugh. Basic self-awareness should tell you that giving expression to those feelings may meet with a negative reaction from those who do not share them, particularly if those feelings are not mainstream or can be perceived as inappropriate to the occasion. I might think it’s thrilling to watch a fighter plane demo, but I wouldn’t say so except among other aviation enthusiasts. Others might well look at me like that was odd or wonder what was wrong with me for saying it. I think that, just like sex isn’t something you talk about, it’s something you just do, thrills and chills are not something you talk about. They’re something you just experience, and keep to yourself. If you gush, don’t be surprised if someone looks at you funny, or asks “what is wrong with you?” People who get that kind of reaction are counterproductive for the left right now.

    • “Abruptly, Rust ordered all crosses and religious symbols removed from Christian classrooms and the religious education to end.”

      Should read “Abruptly, Rust ordered all crosses and religious symbols removed from GERMAN classrooms and the religious education to end”.

      German, not Christian. In other words, he got the parents on board with ditching the Christian/Catholic schools and then yanked the religious education from public schools, too.

      I hate when I’m trying to make a point and I typo it into confusion.

  9. The New York Times fired her because her emotional outburst showed she is unstable. I mean, it’s Joe Biden, not the Third Coming of The Messiah Barack Obama, we are not talking abo . . . Oh, what am I saying?? I have no idea why she was fired.

    Everyone across the mainstream media is treating Biden as a saint, hanging on to his every utterance as if it were gospel truth, and declaring that he singlehandely saved the union, by doing to Trump what he did to Corn Pop. Trump is a bad dude and he runs with some bad boys. Everyone except those creeps at Fox, who relentlessly mock him. But, Fox will get what’s coming to it.


  10. Update. Seems the NYT has commented.

    “There’s a lot of inaccurate information circulating on Twitter. For privacy reasons we don’t get into the details of personnel matters but we can say that we didn’t end someone’s employment over a single tweet..We don’t plan to comment further”

    • Clever wordplay by the Times… Of course they didn’t end her employment over a single tweet. There were several tweets, as she kept digging the hole deeper by engaging with other idiots on Twitter about it, and drawing more attention to the original tweet.

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