The New York Times hired and fired controversial essayist and former Wired writer Quinn Norton yesterday, the dismissal coming after outraged readers noted her past use on social media of homophobic and racist epithets.
Also at issue was Norton’s long friendship with neo-Nazi website writer Andrew Auernheimer, more commonly known by his internet name “weev.” Norton, who was to have been the Times‘ lead opinion writer on technology, has written that she does not share Auernheimer’s views, and that he “is a terrible person, & an old friend of mine.”
In an article published in today’s edition, James Bennet, the editorial page editor of The Times, is quoted saying, “Despite our review of Quinn Norton’s work and our conversations with her previous employers, this was new information to us. Based on it, we’ve decided to go our separate ways.”
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A tweet from Norton also was quoted in the article: “I’m sorry I can’t do the work I wanted to do with them. I wish there had been a way, but ultimately, they need to feel safe with how the net will react to their opinion writers.”
In a series of tweets since yesterday, Norton, posting under the headline “Well that was fun,” writes, among other things, that she has “used a variation of offensive language to talk about questions of tone.”
Many twitterers responding to her posts weren’t buying it. “Gaslighting nonsense,” wrote one. “You use homophobic and racist slurs authentically. Moreover, how is using racist slurs a good way to have positive outreach with racists?”
Shortly before 4 a.m. today, Norton tweeted, “One good thing from all this, I have a long list of story ideas I was collecting for the times, and I’m really looking forward to fleshing them out and getting them out into the world.”
Various twitterers responded with suggestions on where, exactly, she might do just that:
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