Slate Parts Way With President

Red ink continues despite record number of hot takes

Keith Hernandez
Keith Hernandez / Twitter
December 10, 2016

Slate parted ways with President Keith Hernandez in the wake of Donald Trump's election, just a year into his tenure at the company.

Slate has experienced financial woes in recent years and undergone numerous leadership and ownership changes since it opened as one of the earliest web publications in 1996. Hernandez was brought on board after "pioneering … the worlds of native advertising and social media" at BuzzFeed, according to a 2015 press release from Slate Group vice chairman Dan Check.

"As Slate president, Hernandez will ramp up revenue strategy across advertising, marketing, and creative services with an eye toward bringing new global brands into the Slate fold," the company said in the release.

Hernandez took over on Nov. 2, 2015 and was relieved of duty in November 2016. Slate "appears to be bleeding red ink again," according to the New York Post, which first reported the split. These apparent financial woes continued despite the fact that Slate has been publishing a record number of daily hot takes during Hernandez's stint at the company.

Slate has been a go-to resource for liberals looking for nuanced reporting on the 2016 election. It was the first to report that that "Trump is winning [the GOP primary] because of his racism and bigotry," which bode well for Democrats because, as Slate reported in October, "It Lost Black Voters. Now It’s Losing Latinos. What’s Left Is a Broken, White GOP." After his upset victory over Hillary Clinton, Slate reassured its readers that "There’s No Such Thing as a Good Trump Voter," "White Women Sold Out the Sisterhood and the World by Voting for Trump," and "The Electoral College Is an Instrument of White Supremacy—and Sexism."

The publication has found silver linings to Trump's presidency in the form of several children between the ages of 9 and 20 who argue that "climate damage…is unconstitutional." "The Kids Suing the Government Over Climate Change Are Our Best Hope Now," the Nov. 14 headline reads.

The president-elect is not the only target of Slate's sharp reporting. The web magazine has never shied from taking on venerable media institutions. Its feminist vertical, XX Factor: What Women Really Think, took aim in June at the sexism of the New York Times Crossword Puzzle: " Why Is the New York Times Crossword So Clueless About Race and Gender?" The offending puzzle asked readers to find a five-letter word for a "Decidedly non-feminist women’s group." The answer was "Harem"—a collection of concubines and sex slaves kept by powerful men. The "hateful" and "demeaning" clue demonstrated that the Times had too many white men making puzzles.

"Groan," it reported.

Crosswords are not the only institutions that have been hurt by too many white people. Slate called into question in June a Depression-era government program designed to educate the public about the evils of slavery by interviewing thousands of ex-slaves. "Is the Greatest Collection of Slave Narratives Tainted by Racism?"

It was, according to the white Slate writer who authored the piece.

Slate also pioneered a growing number of theories that were just a tad ahead of their time under Hernandez's leadership.

"Why are female CEOs and senators disproportionately blond? Blame sexism," it tweeted in August about an article that revealed that "blond overrepresentation can be explained by race and age biases in leadership pipelines," rather than hair dye. Slate solved the Senate Republican "blockade" of Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, jokingly suggesting Garland could overcome his lack of a confirmation hearing by "walking into the Supreme Court on the first Monday in October, donning an extra black robe, seating himself at the bench, sipping from the mighty silver milkshake cup before him, and looking like he belongs there."

"I believe that this would be the single most fantastic thing that could ever happen to resolve the blockade of hysteria that now threatens both the court and the country," Slate reported.

Hernandez confirmed the New York Post's account of his departure on his Twitter profile on Nov. 28. He lauded the company and its writers on the importance of good journalism in the Trump era.

"The thing I am most proud of is the team we assembled and the work they have produced. Excited to see what comes next for them," he tweeted, adding, "publications like Slate are now more important than ever, we need journalists not afraid to ask the hard questions and call bullshit."

On Dec. 7, the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks, Slate celebrated "a new Instagram account specializing in genderless nipples" to highlight "our shared humanity" and call bullshit on those who get "all bent out of shape over female ones." It also falsely reported that Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said that mothers shouldn't work in the White House.

Published under: Media