Sarah Jeong, who is keeping her job on the editorial staff of the New York Times, despite the surfacing of racist tweets attacking white people, has come up with a cute twist on the insincere apology:
While it was intended as satire, I deeply regret that I mimicked the language of my harassers.
Oh, it was the "harassers" who forced Ms. Jeong to write:
Dumbass f–king white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants
Along with blaming others, Ms. Jeong resorted to that old standby known as "taken out of context," writing:
These comments were not aimed at a general audience, because general audiences do not engage in harassment campaigns. I can understand how hurtful these posts are out of context, and would not do it again.”
Let me get this straight: referring to “dumbass f–king white people,” who are also “groveling goblins,” to quote from Ms. Jeong's rich collection of tweets, is not "hurtful" if you just put it in the right context.
The New York Times endorsed Ms. Jeong's harassers-made-me-do-it. Part of its statement read:
“Her journalism and the fact that she is a young Asian woman have made her a subject of frequent online harassment,” the newspaper added. “For a period of time she responded to that harassment by imitating the rhetoric of her harassers. She sees now that this approach only served to feed the vitriol that we too often see on social media. She regrets it, and The Times does not condone it.”
Call me skeptical about the last sentence: it seems to me that a teensy weensy argument just might be made that the Times does condone Ms. Jeong's tweets. She's still there. (By the way, I agree with Kevin Williamson that the Gray Lady has the right to hire and fire whomever it wants. I just find the rationale for absolving the racists tweets intriguing.)
I was struck that Politico reporter Marc Caputo adopted a line similar to Ms. Jeong's after he mocked a crowd of Trump supporters (who, it must be noted, were heckling reporter Jim Acosta) at a rally. Caputo tweeted:
If you put everyone's mouths together in this video, you'd get a full set of teeth
Needless to say, the innocent Mr. Caputo wasdriven to his nasty comment by the toothless wonders themselves. It's their fault, not his. He explained:
“I need to apologize for tweeting caustic remarks after seeing a reporter berated & abused. Hate begets hate,” he later wrote. “My comments referred ONLY to those jeering and swearing at the man, not a broad swath of people,” he said. “But the fault is mine for causing confusion and feeding anger.”
But Mr. Caputo didn't cause confusion.
He was crystal clear. His comment showed disdain.
The Wall Street Journal has a terrific piece today on "The Lost Art of the Apology Letter."
Included in the requirements for such a letter: being personally contrite.
To muster that contrition, you have to regard your fellow human being as having some dignity. If you just regard them as deplorables who should fork out for better dental work, you are dismissive rather than contrite.
It takes maturity to be personally contrite, but surely that should not be beyond the capabilities gifted people who hold jobs at elite institutions.
Bu the way, it takes three to make a trend.
Who will be next after Ms. Jeong and Mr. Caputo?