Today Page Six picks up on the Times gay slur incident that we've been talking about lately—today, they name the person who supposedly called a coworker a "faggot" as assistant managing editor Michelle McNally, who's the director of photography. The person on the receiving end of her insult was a photo editor. The item also names two of McNally's deputies, who "both vehemently denied" that the insult (which was allegedly lobbed at the Times farewell party) had taken place. But there's more to the story.
The Times investigation, people at the paper tell us, led to a letter being put in McNally's file—no further disciplinary action was taken. That could be because the person who was at the receiving end of her slur was not, as the Post's source claims, a photo editor at the paper, but rather a freelancer. (That only sort of makes sense.) We've heard from others that he's contemplating legal action against the paper, but he didn't return a phone call and an email.
And then there's this email that circulated among Times staffers:
One of our freelancers has accused his boss, a masthead editor, of calling him a fag or a faggot. So far, as I understand it, The Times has conducted an investigation, and the only action it's taken is to put some sort of letter in the masthead editor's personnel file.
I don't think this is an appropriate punishment. If The Times means what it says about fairness and diversity, then it's got to put some teeth into its policies. And a slap on the wrist won't do it.
The Times has zero tolerance for employee theft. Recently, a newsroom employee was fired for taking two reams of paper. Is this issue not equally serious? This was no joke gone bad, much as The Times might wish it was. (Besides, when are slurs ever a joking matter?)
I propose asking Steve Reed and the leaders of our LGBT Affinity Group to press The Times on this case. It has taken a great deal of courage for the freelancer to come forward; he has put his career on the line. We need to offer our support and to say loudly and clearly, "This is not right."
Times Copy Editor
Reed also did not return a request for comment.
Without having spoken to any of the parties involved, it's still impossible for us to say whether or not this incident even happened! But we will say this. One of the people we spoke to went to great lengths to emphasize that there's a culture clash in the photo department between the (mostly male) "old guard," and (the female) McNally and the (female) people she brought in. So, while that's not to cast doubt on the incident, but perhaps the background is all more complicated than we might know. Context, after all, is everything.
Also? Someone got fired for stealing two reams of paper? Jesus. That's crazy.