New York Times Admits Editor’s Comments Were Racist and Antisemitic

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images

The New York Times has, several days after Breitbart News first exposed politics editor Tom Wright-Piersanti’s racist and antisemitic comments on Twitter, admitted the comments were in fact racist and antisemitic.

A piece the New York Times released on Sunday, which described a broader operation of loosely organized supporters of President Donald Trump fighting back against the media with aggressive new tactics, was the first time the newspaper in its own pages addressed the scandal regarding Wright-Piersanti. In the piece, the Times reveals that it considers the tweets racist and antisemitic. Before this piece, the Times had only described the content as a “violation” of its standards–and Wright-Piersanti had only described the content as “offensive.” Now, for the first time on Sunday–three days after Breitbart News broke the story on Thursday–the Times admitted they were both racist and antisemitic.

The Times piece, authored by Jeremy Peters and Ken Vogel, said:

The operation’s tactics were on display last week, seemingly in response to two pieces in The Times that angered Mr. Trump’s allies. The paper’s editorial board published an editorial on Wednesday accusing Mr. Trump of fomenting anti-Semitism, and the newsroom published a profile on Thursday morning of Ms. Grisham, the new White House press secretary, which included unflattering details about her employment history.

One person involved in the effort said the pro-Trump forces, aware ahead of time about the coverage of Ms. Grisham, were prepared to respond. Early Thursday morning, soon after the profile appeared online, Breitbart News published an article that documented anti-Semitic and racist tweets written a decade ago by Tom Wright-Piersanti, who was in college at the time and has since become an editor on the Times’ politics desk. The Times said it was reviewing the matter and considered the posts “a clear violation of our standards.”

While Wright-Piersanti deleted several of the tweets and issued an apology of sorts via Twitter on Thursday, before ultimately hiding his Twitter account’s contents from the public, he has not spoken publicly about the matter until now–for this Times piece–where Wright-Piersanti did an interview further apologizing for his racist and antisemitic behavior.

Wright-Piersanti’s comments to Vogel and Peters for the Times piece first attempt to brush the racist and antisemitic comments off as from when he was in college, but then admit they were “not funny,” saying:

Mr. Wright-Piersanti, 32, said the tweets, posted when he was a college student with a Twitter following consisting mostly of personal acquaintances, were “my lame attempts at edgy humor to try to get a rise out of my friends.”

But he said “they’re not funny, they’re clearly offensive,” adding, “I feel deep shame for them, and I am truly, honestly sorry that I wrote these.”

He said he had forgotten about the tweets as he started a career in journalism.

“For my generation, the generation that came of age in the internet, all the youthful mistakes that you made get preserved in digital amber, and no matter how much you change and mature and grow up, it’s always out there, waiting to be discovered,” Mr. Wright-Piersanti said.

This Times piece published Sunday does not address if Wright-Piersanti will be fired, or if some other action will be leveled against him by the Times. Sources familiar with the matter inside the Times tell Breitbart News that the newspaper’s union is involved, as is the newspaper’s legal department, while the newspaper continues attempting to determine what course of action to take.

But several top conservatives and Republicans, including top administration officials and congressional leaders, have called on the Times to terminate Wright-Piersanti over the tweets the newspaper now admits were racist and antisemitic.


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