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New York Times hires, then fires, editorial writer who befriended neo-Nazis – February 13, 2018

New York, NY

On February 13, 2018, The New York Times announced it had hired journalist Quinn Norton to be the paper’s lead editorial writer on technology. Later that day, however, the Times said she would not be joining its editorial team after all. This announcement came after a flurry of activity on Twitter revealed that Norton had previously referred to a writer for a neo-Nazi website as a friend and had tweeted gay and racist slurs.

Key Players

Quinn Norton is a freelance journalist who has been active since 2006, when she began writing about the Internet, hacking, the organization Anonymous, the Occupy movement, and issues surrounding intellectual property. She wrote for the magazine Maximum PC for five years, and has contributed to publications such as WIRED, Gizmodo, and The Atlantic.

James Bennet is editorial page editor of The New York Times. He supervises a staff that has experts covering issues ranging from business, international affairs, and criminal justice to education and legal affairs. Norton would have covered technology for the editorial board.

Further Details

On the morning of February 13, 2018, the Times announced via Twitter that Norton would be joining its editorial team, tweeting that she would be covering “the power, culture, and consequences of technology.” After the announcement, reported the Chicago Tribune, Twitter users began circulating old tweets in which Norton used gay and racial slurs. According to the Tribune, she tweeted and retweeted the n-word on more than one occasion. Norton’s connection to neo-Nazi Andrew Auernheimer resurfaced as well. Famous for his identity as an internet troll, Auernheimer, who is known on the internet by the name “weev,” now works for The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website which, according to the Tribune, is “known for attacking Jews, women, immigrants and people of color.” Norton had tweeted in October 2017 that “weev is a terrible person, & an old friend of mine.”

Only six hours after the Times’ initial announcement, Norton responded to it, tweeting, “As I said so many times to the @nytimes, no harm no foul. I’m sorry I can’t do the work I wanted to do with them. I wish there had been a way, but ultimately, they need to feel safe with how the net will react to their opinion writers.” In a separate series of tweets, she attempted to explain and justify many of her controversial tweets that had resurfaced throughout the day.

Bennet responded to the situation with his own statement, writing, “Despite our review of Quinn Norton’s work and our conversations with her previous employers, this was new information to us. Based on it, we’ve decided to go our separate ways.”

Outcome

Norton no longer involved with The New York Times

After a firestorm on Twitter, Norton and the Times dissolved their agreement, and she did not join the editorial team. The editorial board announced on April 11 that it had hired writer Jeneen Interlandi to cover health, science, and education, but as of April 27 no one had been hired to fill the position Norton would have held.

External References

New York Times hired, then quickly unhired, writer who tweeted about befriending neo-Nazis, Chicago Tribune

The NY Times Fires Tech Writer Quinn Norton, and it’s Complicated, WIRED

After Storm Over Tweets, The Times anda New Hire Part Ways, The New York Times

Tweet by @NYTimesPR, February 13 2018

Tweet by @quinnnorton, February 13 2018

Quinn Norton Wikipedia entry

Prepared by Emma Vahey ‘20

Uploaded April 30, 2018