New York Times Publisher Relents: All Staff Must Attend Antisemitism Sensitivity Training

Times Cartoon

The New York Times plans to reprimand in some unspecific way the editor responsible for publishing a blatantly antisemitic cartoon in last week’s international edition opinion page and will force all staff to now go through antisemitism sensitivity training.

In a memo to New York Times staff, publisher A.G. Sulzberger admits the newspaper handled this matter incorrectly and says the still-unidentified editor of the Times says is responsible will be disciplined in some way and that all Times staff will now begin antisemitism sensitivity training.

The newspaper, Sulzberger wrote in the staff-wide memo as reported by Yahoo News’s Dylan Stableford, is “taking disciplinary steps with the production editor who selected the cartoon for publication” and will be “updating our unconscious bias training to ensure it includes a direct focus on anti-Semitism.”

Sulzberger wrote in the memo:

This episode is a reminder that all of us are custodians of our trust and credibility with readers. Our journalists work hard every day to help people understand a vast and diverse world and ensure prejudices of any kind do not make it into our report. Though I’ve been assured there was no malice involved in this mistake, we fell far short of our standards and values in this case.

Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades-Ha did not immediately respond to a Breitbart News follow-up request for comment asking again for the identity of the editor the Times says is responsible for publishing the cartoon–and for specific details on exactly what disciplinary steps are being taken against that editor, including whether that editor will be fired or will still work at the Times. At this stage, however, newsroom sources tell Breitbart News that the editor is sticking around, and that the Times staff at large has rallied around that editor to protect the person from criticism over the antisemitic cartoon.

What is particularly remarkable is how a newspaper that prides itself on claims of supporting transparency and supposedly holding powerful people accountable is still refusing to name the editor it says is responsible for publishing the cartoon–and still has not reported what punishment exactly has been leveled or is going to be leveled against this editor.

The Times last Thursday printed a cartoon that showed Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu as a dog wearing a leash and with a Star of David on the collar leading a blind President Donald Trump who was wearing a skullcap around the world. The cartoon, which is blatantly antisemitic, mimics literal Nazi propaganda from 1940 when the Nazi regime in Germany published images of a Jewish man leading around British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

On Saturday, the Times retracted the cartoon and issued an editor’s note that did not include an apology for it. Under immense further pressure on Sunday, the Times then issued an apology and announced an internal investigation into the matter, promising changes. But on Monday it was revealed that the Times on Saturday published a second insensitive cartoon bashing the Israeli Prime Minister–and in response to that second one the Times defended it and said it was not antisemitic but also, under more pressure, publicly confirmed it has now ceased its licensing agreement with its cartoon distributor and will no longer be publishing any cartoons in its international edition.

In addition to Sulzberger’s latest memo to New York Times staff, the Times editorial board hammered its own newspaper for printing “bigoted” imagery that fails to learn the proper lessons from history.

The Times editorial ripping its own newspaper reads:

The Times published an appalling political cartoon in the opinion pages of its international print edition late last week. It portrayed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel as a dog wearing a Star of David on a collar. He was leading President Trump, drawn as a blind man wearing a skullcap. The cartoon was chosen from a syndication service by a production editor who did not recognize its anti-Semitism. Yet however it came to be published, the appearance of such an obviously bigoted cartoon in a mainstream publication is evidence of a profound danger — not only of anti-Semitism but of numbness to its creep, to the insidious way this ancient, enduring prejudice is once again working itself into public view and common conversation.

The Times editorial also says that the newspaper’s silence on antisemitism’s rise in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s was shameful:

In the 1930s and the 1940s, The Times was largely silent as anti-Semitism rose up and bathed the world in blood. That failure still haunts this newspaper. Now, rightly, The Times has declared itself ‘deeply sorry’ for the cartoon and called it ‘unacceptable.’ Apologies are important, but the deeper obligation of The Times is to focus on leading through unblinking journalism and the clear editorial expression of its values. Society in recent years has shown healthy signs of increased sensitivity to other forms of bigotry, yet somehow anti-Semitism can often still be dismissed as a disease gnawing only at the fringes of society. That is a dangerous mistake. As recent events have shown, it is a very mainstream problem.

It remains to be seen what happens next, but the Times through spokeswoman Rhoades-Ha continues to refuse to identify the editor it says was responsible, delineate what exact punishment has been levied against this person, publicly identify what big picture structural changes the newspaper intends to implement beyond the coming staff-wide antisemitism sensitivity training, or pledge in the interest of transparency to make publicly available all findings of the Times‘ internal investigation including all underlying source documents like emails, text messages, and interview notes or transcripts.


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