NYT Reporter Cheers Denunciation of Left-Wing Writer as 'Racist' for Protest Coverage

Intercept reporter faces backlash for posting video of interview from protest

The New York Times building is seen on September 6, 2018 in New York / ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images
June 4, 2020

New York Times politics reporter Astead Herndon joined in on criticism of the Intercept's Lee Fang, whose coverage of the ongoing protests in California was blasted by one of his colleagues at the left-wing outlet as "racist."

Herndon cheered Intercept writer Akela Lacy, who accused her coworker, Lee Fang, of "continuing to push racist narratives" about black-on-black crime. "This isn't about me and him it's about institutional racism and using free speech to couch anti-blackness," she said, adding in another tweet, "Stop being racist Lee."

"[Y]es akela," Herndon responded, along with an emoji of raised hands in affirmation. Fang has posted interviews to his Twitter feed of citizens offering mixed reactions to the protests stemming from the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Some of the protests in American cities have been marred by rioting and looting, and one of Fang's interview subjects criticized the lack of attention paid to black-on-black crime.

The Intercept is a left-wing outlet which has run afoul of mainstream Democrats with its criticism of the Russia investigation, boosting of Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), and reporting on Tara Reade, the former Joe Biden staffer who accused him of sexual assault.

The Times released new staff guidelines in 2017 for social media use, encouraging employees to refrain from partisan comments or any remark that takes a side or "undercuts the Times’s journalistic reputation."

Herndon was among the dozens of Times staffers who criticized the paper for publishing Sen. Tom Cotton's (R., Ark.) call to send the United States military to quell any violent uprisings. He said Thursday that if elected officials want to make "provocative arguments," it should be in the context of a news story, not an "unvarnished" opinion piece. Many other staffers shared a form of the sentence, "Running this puts Black @nytimes staff in danger" with a screenshot of Cotton's article.

The uproar forced editorial page editor James Bennet to write a defense of his decision to publish the piece. The Times also published a news article about the staff reaction to it.

Herndon did not respond to a request for comment.