The inside story of the Slate meltdown
Fantastic analysis of traditional media’s predicament. The best I’ve read.
the worst part is imagining how incredibly unfunny all the jokes on that Slack must have been
Thank you for your reporting, Sean. There are so many great quotes in here. It's a revealing story about the costs of the growing intolerance, conformity and bad faith that's captured so many institutions in NY Media.
This is only a predicament in workplaces with weak leadership that nurtures the idea that good journalism can be measured by how few staff members are aggrieved by any given piece of copy. It sounds like Pesca was always willing to hear people out and even re-recorded a podcast segment though nothing was journalistically or ethically wrong with his first draft. It sounds like he had unprofessional podcast producers who, even after convincing Pesca to make a change, still felt the need to gossip about Pesca's initial inclusion of a non-abbreviated racial slur as though Pesca included it originally out of thoughtless insensitivity rather than a thoughtful and deliberate journalistic choice. Very few white people, especially in a work environment, want to write or say a racial slur. It's not some secretly fun thing to do. If someone can't grasp the moral chasm between voluntary inclusion of an racial slur unnecessary to the copy and including for for clarity of the copy then they should seek a different profession outside of journalism. Reading Pesca's actions as either racist or intentionally hurtful is bad faith narcissistic performative grievance. A way to show coworkers how much you care about rooting out racism.
Yet Slate kicked out a truly thought provoking and successful talent for the sake of people who are ensuring Slate's downfall as it becomes just one more irrelevant media silo to be ignored by people who don't just want content that tells them exactly what they want to hear.
Really tremendous piece here, certainly the best thing I’ve read about Mike’s ordeal. I was especially glad to hear from David Plotz on this, given his past and current positions, so yeah, job very well-done, Mr. Cooper. This whole saga represents the tumult in media so nicely that it seems like a bit of an allegory—maybe call it Pesca’s Progress, something like that? I dunno, I’m just thinking out loud here.
It’s hard for me to imagine I’d have handled an eleven-month leave from work that included a *seven-month investigation and legal negotiation* with the grace and sensitivity and general unwillingness to speak harshly in public about any of the other involved parties that Pesca has shown in all this, including now that it’s all done. But hey, I’m a civilian in this conflict—albeit not a neutral one by any means.
Put it this way: the Defector piece ended, if I recall correctly, with an anonymous quote that was just a straightforward ad hominem attack on Pesca’s character—utter malpractice, at least as I was taught journalism working at a local weekly paper. I bet he knows who that person is, but I’d also bet he won’t be responding in kind; frankly, if he did, I’d be disappointed and embarrassed for him. That’s a real mismatch, and I presume (or at least hope!) I’m not the only one who sees it.
Yikes! Wars have been fought over the true meaning of the trinity. Mike Pesca; washed, but not washed clean, by the pristine wokeness of Slate.com.
Loved this piece, after listening to and reading the other coverage of the subject this is the most enlightening. Really appreciated hearing from David Plotz, he was the person I was hoping to hear from. Looking forward to years more of The Gist!
It's surprising that so many intelligent people are walking themselves off the plank of social media and encouraging when voices of sanity and reason survive. Thanks
This is the first report I have read of what happened that sounds like it might be reporting what actually happened. I believe this, in part, because it describes my own thoughts about my diminishing enjoyment of reading Slate and Vox. I still like both, but I am no longer as eager to read them.
I like Pesca’s work and I’m loathe to agree with censors on any side, I can’t see a legitimate purpose really ever to use that language. I’m shocked that it seems like I hear the word a whole lot more out of while male liberal coastal journalists than I do from my elderly redneck red state relatives.
whoah, I typed a comment and then, for the first time, noticed that my name was White Sneed. I see that my true colours are showing. So I guess that substack thing I may or may not have started is rolling. Weirdly, White Sneed arose for such an hour. It might be time for him to man up. I think I hadn't quite understood how late it was.
the Harriet E. Wilson-word. Someone had to say it.
This is like fucken Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, 1979. Mike Flood would sit up in front during chapel five days a week and brood on ways to be offended. He'd pull out about three times a week, and his half-dozen disciples would pull out with him. At Bible college very few would own up to being offended on their own account. It was always on behalf of the weaker brethren. Everyone spoke of these weaker brethren, but no one ever found them.
True fact: my son literally disowned me yesterday, 4 January '23 in this regrettably Christian calendar, changing his last name to his mother's (actually his mother's father's) because he said I made one joke too many about...well, does it matter? His mother is Dean of Woke at the University of Toronto. She used to laugh at all this p.c. stuff.
As for all this laughable stuff George Carlin warned us about, what an offensive way to treat black people, to assume that they're the weaker brethren. Jesus Christ.
George Carlin is dead.
I have to wonder whether and how much Will Saletan's sympathetic quotes here had to do with his departure/defenestration (?) from Slate this past Friday, January 28.
Wow, what a huge mark against Slate or the New York Times when white journalists can not use the n-word without consequence. The media is really going downhill when white journalists cant use the n-word without consequence. All the nuance and subtlety is lost in reporting when white journalists can’t use the n-word without consequence. We are at the precipice of losing a functional media when white journalists can not use the n-word without consequence.
This is my honest reading of how the people who feel that what happened to Pesca was this grave issue for journalism. I just wish the people who feel that way would just honestly state their position. That for them something is lost in journalism when white journalists can’t use the n-word without consequence.