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Sacked New York Times editor says the paper took 'a shot at my reputation'

Lauren Wolfe lost her gig with the Times last week following a tweet in which she described herself as 'having chills' seeing Joe Biden's plane land before his inauguration

A New York Times freelance editor who was sacked last week following a tweet in which she described herself as 'having chills' seeing Joe Biden's plane land before his inauguration has claimed the paper took 'a shot at my reputation'. 

Lauren Wolfe lost her gig with the Times, where she had started working last May, after a manager contacted her to say that the publication could not be associated with tweet, she told the Washington Post.

According to Wolfe, the tweet was 'the only reason they fired me', as she responded to the paper for claiming otherwise.

A statement from the Times had alleged that her dismissal was not on the basis of the tweet alone, but did not comment any further on the reasons for letting her go.

'There's a lot of inaccurate information circulating on Twitter,' the statement said.  

'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. (To clarify something that has been incorrectly reported, Ms. Wolfe was not a full-time employee, nor did she have a contract.)'

Right-wing commentators jumped on the tweet, accusing Wolfe of failing to remain impartial

 She also tweeted that Trump was 'mortifying' and 'childish' for having refused to send Biden a military place to bring him to D.C. She later deleted that tweet after acknowledging that it was inaccurate, and Biden had made the choice not to take a military plane

Speaking to the Post, Wolfe said that it was hard to see the statement, which appeared to imply that her job performance had played a part in the dismissal when she had received praise from colleagues and was hoping to join the paper's 'live' team on a full-time basis.

She said that the stint on the team as part of the flexible editing desk was a 'dream job'.

'Every day, I was scared I was going to do something wrong,' Wolfe said of the statement.

'So, whatever they're implying, it's a shot at my reputation, which I worked very carefully to build.'

The controversy erupted on January 19 after Wolfe tweeted, 'Biden landing at Joint Base Andrews now. I have chills,' on the day before the inauguration.

Wolfe herself has defended her colleagues, saying her disappointment is directed only at those who made the statement from the New York Times, pictured above

She also tweeted that Trump was 'mortifying' and 'childish' for having refused to send Biden a military place to bring him to D.C.

She later deleted that tweet after acknowledging that it was inaccurate, and Biden had made the choice not to take a military plane.

The tweet drew the attention of right-wing commentators who criticized her for failing to remain impartial.

The New York Times has a social media policy for its journalism and editorial staff that requires them to remain impartial in their posting online.

'If our journalists are perceived as biased or if they engage in editorializing on social media, that can undercut the credibility of the entire newsroom,' its policy states.

'We've always made clear that newsroom employees should avoid posting anything on social media that damages our reputation for neutrality and fairness.'

Scandals that rocked the New York Times in 2020 

June 7: New York Times' opinion editor, James Bennet, resigned following a controversial op-ed from Senator Tom Cotton. The opinion piece, entitled Send in the Troops, advocated using federal troops to quell unrest across the US caused by the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. 

Bennet, who had revealed in a meeting that he had not read Cotton's piece before it was posted online, had defended it following the initial protests, saying it was important to hear from all points of view. 

Yet more than 800 staff members signed a letter protesting its publication. 

Bennet then resigned from his position after the Times disowned the incendiary opinion piece.

Following a review, the newspaper said Cotton's piece should not have been published, at least not without substantial revisions. 

July 14: One of Bennett's hires, conservative opinion editor writer Bari Weiss, announced she had quit in a scathing letter that slammed the newspaper for fostering an 'illiberal environment' that allowed her to be bullied by coworkers.

Weiss, who joined the Times in 2017, said the paper of record was among the media institutions now betraying their standards and losing sight of their principles as she accused them of only publishing stories that 'satisfy the narrowest of audiences'.   

In her lengthy resignation letter addressed to publisher A.G. Sulzberger, Weiss claimed that intellectual curiosity and risk-taking was now a 'liability' at the Times.

The controversial editor and writer said the opinions of those on Twitter had become the newspaper's 'ultimate editor'.

Weiss also accused the outlet of creating a 'hostile work environment' for employees that essentially had anything other than left-of-center views.  

She says this mentality resulted in her being constantly bullied by coworkers who have called her a 'Nazi and a racist' because of her 'own forays into wrongthink'.

Staffers had previously called for Weiss to be fired after her tweets regarding the Tom Cotton scandal. 

September: Trump repeatedly criticized the New York Times 1619 Project claiming it seeks to 'change our history'. 

Trump was asked about instructors using the project, named after the year the first ship with African slaves arrived in the U.S., to teach slavery in America and whether he wanted the subject to be taught. 

'We grew up with a certain history and now they're trying to change our history. Revisionist history,' Trump claimed.  

Senator Cotton was also caught up in this incident, introducing legislation that would ban schools from teaching the curriculum through the Saving American History Act of 2020. 

December:  The Times admitted to 'an institutional failure' in the production of its podcast 'Caliphate' by giving 'too much credence' to the story of a man now revealed as a fantasist pretending to be a terrorist. 

In a devastating internal review, it was found that the paper had failed to corroborate the sensationalist claims made by Canadian Shehroze Chaudhry, 25, and that the podcast team was duped by his fake story of working as an ISIS executioner. 

The review began after Chaudhry was arrested by Canadian authorities in September and charged with 'a hoax regarding terrorist activity' as his lies fell apart.

Wolfe told the Post that this is not the first time the Times had spoken to her about her social media posts.

The same manager had contacted her about a tweet in which she connected the refusal by some conservative men to wear masks to 'toxic masculinity'.

According to Vanity Fair, other staffers had expressed discomfort that some of Wolfe's tweets verged on political.

The manager said that her tweets were 'borderline', and that other Times staff were guilty of 'worse'.

After the tweet last week, Vanity Fair reports that Wolfe had resulted in the Times being in the headlines and she was told 'we can't have that'.

After news of her dismissal spread, many rushed to her defense, calling out the paper for making such a harsh decision, apparently over one tweet.

They accused its leaders of giving into pressure from conservatives.

'Tweet at the @nytimes and tell them to #rehireLauren,' wrote actress and activist Alyssa Milano.

However, Wolfe herself has defended her colleagues, saying her disappointment is directed only at those who made the statement.

'The people I'm mad at are the people who put out the statement,' Wolfe said.

'I respected tremendously the people I worked with. I respected them to the end of the earth and still do. They were the end-all, the be-all.'

'Please don't cancel your subscriptions to @nytimes! It is an incredible paper filled with talented journalists. We need them and we need a thriving free press. Thank you!' she wrote on Monday.

She followed it with a second tweet again urging readers to remain with the paper.

'Hi all. I truly appreciate everyone's support, but I need to ask you a favor: PLEASE don't unsubscribe from @nytimes,' she wrote.

'I have loved this paper and its mission my whole life. Their journalism is some of the most important & best in the world, & they need to be read widely.'

'All I ever wanted to do was write. Not be written about,' she added Tuesday.

It comes after a string of scandals for the Times in the past year, including its admission that it was duped by a fake terrorist in the creation of its hit podcast Caliphate.

The Times acknowledged in December that it had been misled in the production of the series by Canadian-Pakistani man Shehroze Chaudhry, 25, who had fabricated his story of working as an ISIS executioner.

Yet it was in further hot water earlier this month after a group of 20 influential public radio stations condemned the Times for a 'lack of transparency' after personal ties between the star host of 'The Daily' Michael Barbaro and its discredited series 'Caliphate' emerged.

Barbaro was in December tasked with speaking to the Times' executive editor Dean Baquet in an episode of The Daily - which is also broadcast on public radio - in which the paper retracted much of the story on which popular series Caliphate had been built.

Yet in hosting the episode, Barbaro failed to disclose that much of the production team involved in 'Caliphate' had come from 'The Daily' - and that he is engaged to the series' executive producer Lisa Tobin.

According to NPR, Barbaro also pressured at least five journalists via social media to play down the errors in Caliphate and to get them to pull back their public criticism of the series.

And it follows on from the scandal after New York Times' opinion editor, James Bennet, resigned after a controversial op-ed from Senator Tom Cotton in June.

The opinion piece, entitled Send in the Troops, advocated using federal troops to quell unrest across the US caused by the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

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