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NY Post runs Bret Stephens column on ‘N-word’ firing that NYT reportedly spiked

Column, reportedly pulled by Times’ publisher, questioned paper’s decision to fire veteran health reporter over his use of racial slur in 2019

New York Times op-ed columnist Bret Stephens. (Jason Smith via JTA)
New York Times op-ed columnist Bret Stephens. (Jason Smith via JTA)

The New York Post on Friday published an op-ed by New York Times opinion columnist Bret Stephens, which he reportedly claimed had been suppressed by his paper’s publisher days earlier.

According to the New York Post, the column was to be titled “Regardless of Intent,” and criticized the Times’ decision to fire veteran health reporter Donald McNeil over his use of the “N-word” during an education trip to Peru in 2019 sponsored by the paper. It specifically questioned editor Dean Baquet’s statement at the time of McNeil’s resignation that “we do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent.”

“Do any of us want to live in a world, or work in a field, where intent is categorically ruled out as a mitigating factor?” Stephens asked in the New York Post version of the article.

“Every serious moral philosophy, every decent legal system, and every ethical organization cares deeply about intention,” Stephens wrote. “It is the difference between murder and manslaughter. It is an aggravating or extenuating factor in judicial settings. It is a cardinal consideration in pardons (or at least it was until Donald Trump got in on the act). It’s an elementary aspect of parenting, friendship, courtship and marriage.”

“A hallmark of injustice,” Stephens added, “is indifference to intention.”

In an internal email to New York Times colleagues last week, Stephens reportedly said that the column had been pulled from publication at the last minute by Times publisher Arthur Gregg Sulzberger.

“If you’re wondering why it wasn’t in the paper, it’s because AG Sulzberger spiked it,” he wrote, according to the Daily Beast, which obtained a copy of the email.

In December 2019, following widespread complaints by readers accusing the newspaper of trafficking in racism and eugenics, The New York Times edited a controversial op-ed by Stephens, in which he cited data from an academic paper whose authors advanced a genetic hypothesis regarding high IQ among Ashkenazi Jews — a thesis Stephens did not advance.

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