The pattern has become sadly all too predictable: Pick an employee who’s getting a lot of sunshine that maybe you think should be going to other people. Accuse him or her of a transgression, of making a mistake, of wrong-think. Anyone who questions the accusation can themselves be put in the spotlight: Why are you defending this person? Maybe you, too, are a transgressor; shall we have a look?
Of course, journalists do not admit this is also about ambition; maybe they do not see it that way. Maybe they see the public immolation of their colleagues as just something you do on the road to progress, something you do to Times food writer Alison Roman when you dig up a 12 year-old photo of her dressed for Halloween as Amy Winehouse and accuse her of cultural appropriation for dressing as a chola. Maybe you have your eye on Andy Mills and would like some of that success yourself. Why not start a campaign accusing him of entitlement and male privilege and bang the drum until staying his job at the Times becomes untenable? Maybe you’d like the distinguished career of Donald McNeil and assume there’ll be more room for you if he’s out of the way. Not that it works that way, which people will find out when they try to do these jobs, when they try to build things up rather than just tear things down; when they actually look into the stories before tweeting they are “speechless” that McNeil still has a job and commending the Daily Beast for its “phenomenal reporting.”
The reporting in the Daily Beast is not phenomenal. I hesitate to even call it reporting. It seems more a device to furnish the reader with just enough information to see the accused, someone they may not have heard of five minutes earlier, as a racist, as a sexist, as a transphobe, charges that might rob them of status, might make them unemployable.