The Agony of Working With the New York Times Copy DeskS

Goateed woman-chaser and FBI consultant Neil Strauss was once an actual reporter for the New York Times. It's true! Now he's sharing some of his experiences dealing with NYT copy editors. SPOILER: They are motherfucking prim.

COPYEDITOR: Does that opening line, "which way do you want it?" carry a sexual connotation, either intended or not?
NS: Not at all. It could be about anything.
COPYEDITOR: It seems like something that might have come out of an XXX film somehow.

They are somewhat cowed by their "liberal media" reputation:

Editing a Rage Against the Machine review . . .

COPYEDITOR: You write here that the band has lyrics attacking misogynists and homophobes.
Yes.
COPYEDITOR: Did the band say "homophobes"?
No, that's my summary of the lyrics.
COPYEDITOR: We have a rule that "homophobes" is a word that can only be used by homosexuals in the newspaper.
Isn't that a double standard?
COPYEDITOR: There's also the case of the religious right. We don't want to accuse anyone of having a clinical psychological condition that is the cause of their actions.

And they are not particularly up on hip hop culture:

Editing the interview with Mike Tyson, in which he says, "We made the industry, but we have no control over the destiny of the music" . . .

COPYEDITOR: It's not clear what the referent for "we" is.
It's obviously African-American people.
COPYEDITOR: Okay, let's change it to, "Speaking of black people, Mr. Tyson said, ‘We made the industry.' "
No, don't do that.
COPYEDITOR: It needs a referent. It's not grammatical.
It sounds racist. And my name's on the article.
COPYEDITOR: Then give me another referent to use.
I don't know.
COPYEDITOR: Well, who is he talking about if not black people?
Just anyone involved in the culture that rap comes from.
COPYEDITOR: Okay, then let's make it, "Speaking of the rap world, he said, ‘We made the industry . . .' "

Haha, and they haven't changed a motherfucking bit.

[These examples are taken from Neil Strauss' new book, Everyone Loves You When You're Dead: Journeys into Fame and Madness. Photo: AP]