by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
What happened: Former New York Times tech writer Charlie Warzel started crying during an emergency staff meeting prompted by Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R., Ark.) infamous Times op-ed about the George Floyd riots in June 2020.
In a scene that resembled a “Maoist struggle session,” Warzel sobbed in front of his colleagues because “none of his friends wanted to talk to him anymore because he worked for this horrible evil newspaper that would print this op-ed.”
Who said it: Former Times writer Shawn McCreesh, according to an excerpt from the forthcoming book Uncovered: How the Media Got Cozy with Power, Abandoned Its Principles, and Lost the People, by journalist Steve Krakauer.
Context: Times staffers lost their minds after the paper published Cotton’s op-ed, “Send In the Troops,” which called for mobilizing the National Guard to reinforce local law enforcement agencies struggling to contain the violent unrest following the murder of George Floyd.
Dozens of Times employees wrote on social media that the op-ed put their black colleagues “in danger.” The esteemed Nikole Hannah-Jones was “deeply ashamed.” Editorial page editor James Bennet was forced to resign days later.
McCreesh told Krakauer the Times leadership was “so fucking freaked out” by the deranged response from “bloodthirsty” staffers and “completely lost their nerve.” He described the scene at the emergency staff meeting where Warzel broke down in tears as “like a murder.”
Where are they now: Warzel is a staff writer and author of the “Galaxy Brain” newsletter for the Atlantic. McCreesh is a features writer at New York magazine.
Bottom line: At the very least, we need to consider a total shutdown of the journalism industry until we can figure out what the hell is going on.