NY Times reporter Taylor Lorenz falsely accused a Silicon Valley entrepreneur of using a bad word

If the name Taylor Lorenz rings a bell that may be because we’ve written about her before. Back in 2019 she wrote a piece for the Atlantic about Instagram banning “prominent right-wing extremists” including, wait for it, Louis Farrakhan. That piece was later corrected. Last year she complained she was being unfairly targeted for criticism by Balaji Srinivasan. And the screenshot of one of his tweets which she offered as proof really did sound mean. But Lorenz left out one thing. Srinivasan’s comments were a word-for-word rehash of something Lorenze herself had said about a woman tech CEO on Twitter. Compare for yourself:

But, hey, she’s the real victim or whatever. Well, some things never change.

Over the weekend, Lorenz made another accusation aimed at another Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor. She claimed that Marc Andreessen had used the word “retarded” during a meeting on Clubhouse, a site that allows invitation only conversations. That claim was false. The person who moderated the Clubhouse discussion explained that it was another person in the meeting who had used that word exactly once. The context was to point out that the redditors who bid up GameStop stock had referred to themselves as the “retarded revolution.”

After she was corrected, Lorenz maintained that the use of the R-word was an egregious offense and then quickly protected her tweets. But as others have pointed out, Lorenz has clearly been out to get Andreessen before this “mistake” happened. Note that @pmarca is Andreessen’s name on Twitter. Here’s a screenshot of Lorenz bragging about her ability to get into Andreessen’s Clubhouse meetings using a “burner account.”

Today, Glenn Greenwald wrote a piece about the various hall monitor reporters who do this sort of thing for a living and about Lorenz in particular:

Just take a second to ponder how infantile and despotic, in equal parts, all of this is. This NYT reporter used her platform to virtually jump out of her desk to run to the teacher and exclaim: he used the r word! This is what she tried for months to accomplish: to catch people in private communications using words that are prohibited or ideas that are banned to tell on them to the public. That she got it all wrong is arguably the least humiliating and pathetic aspect of all of this.

Beyond all this, what if he had used the word “retarded”? What would it mean? If someone uses that term maliciously, as a slur against others to mock their intellect, it is certainly reasonable to condemn that. Used with that intent and in that context, it is unnecessarily hurtful for people who suffer diseases of cognitive impairment.

But that is not remotely what happened here. Anyone who spent any time at all on the sub-Reddit thread of r/WallStreetBets knows that “retards” was the single most common term used by those who short-squeezed the hedge funds invested in the collapse of GameStop. It is virtually impossible to discuss the ethos of that subculture without using that term. This was one of their most popular battlecries:

“We can stay retarded longer than you can stay solvent.”

At this point I hope you can see how this story connects to the other NY Times embarrassment last week involving a now-former reporter’s use of a bad word. In sum, last week a group of 150 staffers wrote a letter aimed at punishing a reporter who used the n-word in 2019 (in the context of asking how someone else had used the n-word). Because he actually used the word when asking for context, he was encouraged to leave and resigned under duress.

The Taylor Lorenz story above is the same abandonment of context in the rush to punish someone for bad speech. The woke newsroom staff are taking down those who offend their sensibilities inside the NY Times. Lorenz is applying the same tactics to attempt to bring down people outside the NY Times. As Greenwald points out, the real problem is that wherever it’s applied, this tactic is extremely dishonest: “To pretend that there is no difference in the use of that term by the Redditors and its discussion in Clubhouse on the one hand, and its malicious deployment as an insult to the cognitively disabled on the other, is dishonest in the extreme.”

The fact that the Times’ newsroom pushed out Donald McNeil Jr. but hasn’t said anything about Taylor Lorenz making a false accusation on Twitter gives you a good idea of the mindset that is now in control at the paper.