paper trail

Philadelphia Inquirer journalists call in “sick and tired”; Lauren Michele Jackson on the anti-racist reading list

Lauren Michele Jackson

A day after defending the decision to publish senator Tom Cotton’s New York Times op-ed, “Send in the Troops,” editorial-page editor James Bennet told staff members that he didn’t read the article before it was published. Soon after, the paper issued a statement: “This review made clear that a rushed editorial process led to the publication of an Op-Ed that did not meet our standards. As a result, we’re planning to examine both short-term and long-term changes, to include expanding our fact-checking operation and reducing the number of Op-Eds we publish.” On Thursday, the article had been denounced by Times writers, staff, and the News Guild union, with more than eight-hundred employees signing a letter of protest. The paper will hold a town-hall meeting today for staff to address Bennet, publisher A. G. Sulzberger, and executive editor Dean Baquet.

At Vulture, Lauren Michele Jackson asks what anti-racist reading lists are for: “The person who has to ask can hardly be trusted in a self-directed course of study, not if their yearning for gentle education also happens to coincide with their earliest exposure to books written by people who are not white. Anti-racism reading lists fail such a person, for they are already predisposed to read black art zoologically.”

At the Philadelphia Inquirer, at least thirty-four journalists of color called in sick in protest of an offensive column headline that implied an equivalence between loss of buildings amid protests to loss of black lives. In an open letter to the paper, the journalists wrote, “We’re calling in sick and tired. Sick and tired of pretending things are OK. Sick and tired of not being heard.” The paper has since apologized to readers and employees.

At Politico, two dozen scholars, politicians, and historians—including Tressie McMillan Cottom, Clayborne Carson, Peniel E. Joseph, Nancy Isenberg, Keisha N. Blain, and more—put the current protests in historical context and answer the question: What’s really different this time around?

Artforum has posted a list of resources for organizers and protestors.

At the New Republic, Osita Nwanevu considers the mainstream media’s reaction to a photo op in front of St. John’s church in Washington, in which the president was photographed holding a bible after military police had violently displaced protestors. Nwanevu is puzzled by the idea that the photo op represents a new low for Trump and the beginning of a descent into authoritarianism: “What happened Monday was a small step in evolution, not the beginning of a great conversion. To the extent it was the high-water mark of anything, it was perhaps the apotheosis, in political imagery anyway, of conservative social politics—the whole ideological infrastructure summarized and made plain within the space of an hour.”

Historian Rick Perlstein talks about Trump’s similarities to Nixon, and how we may be seeing a reappearance of the Nixon campaign playbook.