The New Times Guild apologized Sunday, just two days after criticizing New York Times columnist Bret Stephens’ article on the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project.
On Friday, Stephens criticized the controversial project, written by Nikole Hannah-Jones, for being overly ambitious in its attempt to have the “last word” on history.
Stephens concluded: “the 1619 Project has failed.”
It didn’t take long for the New York Times union’s Twitter account to blast the paper and Stephens for the article.
“It says a lot about an organization when it breaks it’s [sic] own rules and goes after one of it’s [sic] own. The act, like the article, reeks,” the union wrote.
The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald pounced on the tweet, writing that the Guild’s “denunciation was marred by humiliating typos and even more so by creepy and authoritarian censorship demands and petulant appeals to management for enforcement of company ‘rules’ against other journalists.”
“To say that this is bizarre behavior from a union of journalists, of all people, is to woefully understate the case,” and calling the union out for wanting to censor a fellow journalist for daring to express his viewpoint–Stephens is a columnist, not a reporter which is in direct opposition to the First Amendment which journalists hold near and dear.
After being heavily criticized on social media, the Guild deleted the tweet and apologized
“We deleted our previous tweet. It was tweeted in error,” they wrote. “We apologize for the mistake.”
We deleted our previous tweet. It was tweeted in error. We apologize for the mistake.
— NYTimesGuild (@NYTimesGuild) October 12, 2020
According to the Times’ media columnist, the union claims that the tweet was issued without any internal discussion.
Someone else active in the Times Union tells me that a leader of the chapter, who runs the account, tweeted about the Stephens column without any internal discussion, causing a furor in Slack and drawing heated objections from others in the Guild, and leading to this: https://t.co/7LPoulxaa7
— Ben Smith (@benyt) October 12, 2020
The controversy resulted in Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger issuing a statement to the staff defending the 1619 Project and Hannah-Jones.
Our publisher AG Sulzberger shared this statement on the 1619 Project with employees this evening pic.twitter.com/wu7JeqhY3N
— Jake Silverstein (@jakesilverstein) October 12, 2020
One of the most important criticisms of the 1619 Project comes from Phillip W. Magness, who, according to Stephens has noted that the core argument that America was founded in 1619, not 1776, has disappeared from the online version without explanation.
Stephens was only pointing out that despite the Pulitzer Prize, the 1619 Project was flawed and should not be held up as an example of good journalism. For that, he earned the enmity of his colleagues.