The New York Times reportedly fired award-winning queer journalist Lauren Wolfe, after she posted a Tweet saying she had “chills” watching US President Joe Biden’s plane land in Washington.
The newspaper’s action was preceded by an online campaign of abuse, harassment and threats against Wolfe over her perceived pro-Biden tilt. The Times in a statement said they didn’t “end someone’s employment over a single tweet.” In a statement, Wolfe said it was “a shot at my reputation.”
Wolfe has reported from the Middle East, Central Africa and Central America. Her work about sexual violence against women in Syria has been lauded. In 2017, her articles and photos led to the arrest and conviction of a politician and militia accused of raping toddlers in the eastern Congo for over three years.
Fired over Tweet?
Journalist Yashar Ali posted on Twitter On January 22, about The Times cancelling Wolfe’s contract.
1. Some news…
Lauren Wolfe, who was an editor on contract for the NYT, has had her contract canceled after she tweeted what's on the left.
Wolfe also tweeted what's on the right, but deleted when she learned Biden chose to take his own plane.
Per two sources. pic.twitter.com/uaB0INZ1q8
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) January 22, 2021
On January 19, a day before Biden’s inauguration, Wolfe had tweeted a photo of his airplane landing at the Joint Base Andrews outside near Washington DC saying “I have chills” (she deleted the tweet later).
In another tweet, she called the Trump administration “childish” for not sending a plane for Biden, but deleted that post after verifying that the then US President-elect had chosen to use his own plane.
Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha denied that Wolfe had been fired because of a tweet and said she was not on contract.
“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. Out of respect for the individuals involved we don’t plan to comment further,” Rhoades Ha stated.
Backlash against The New York Times
The Times’s action invited a backlash on social media as her fellow journalists and others came out in support of Wolfe.
“Lauren Wolfe is an incredibly brave, committed, ethical journalist. This is ultimately the NYT’s loss, but everyone should understand why their [sic] responding this way to online harassers, hate-filled threats, and the stalking of a woman journalist is chilling,” tweeted writer Soraya Chemaly.
Lauren Wolfe is an incredibly brave, committed, ethical journalist. This is ultimately the NYT’s loss, but everyone should understand why their responding this way to online harassers, hate-filled threats, and the stalking of a woman journalist is chilling. https://t.co/mvWsiedLaw
— Soraya Chemaly (@schemaly) January 24, 2021
Josh Shahryar, a journalist and a friend in a Twitter thread pointed to Wolfe’s body of work and questioned the paper over their decision to “fire” her.
Did I mention that Lauren is queer? Did I mention that she is Jewish with few family members because… the Holocaust?
I don't understand how anyone at @NYTimes sat down and said, "Oh yeah, let's just cut her. Would look "good" to the fascists who want her fired."
— Josh Shahryar (they/them) #BLM (@JShahryar) January 24, 2021
In a tweet, NYTimes Guild, the union representing around 1,200 workers at The Times said they were “investigating the situation”.
The Guild said that The Times management’s “decision to terminate the employment of Lauren Wolfe was done outside of the just cause protections of our contract due to her classification as a casual employee. We have reached out to her offering support and representation. We can’t say more while we are investigating the situation.”
TimesGuild statement on Lauren Wolfe: pic.twitter.com/x555qHnAcq
— NYTimesGuild (@NYTimesGuild) January 24, 2021
The Women’s Media Center in a statement said they were “disappointed that the Times fired senior editor Lauren Wolfe over a tweet. We know Wolfe to be a talented, fair, honest, award-winning, and hard-working journalist and colleague. We urge the New York Times to reverse their decision.”
Many said they were contributing to Wolfe’s Venom to help the journalist who was not left with no income after the termination of her employment.