Vox’s former editor and co-founder Matthew Yglesias wrote that he sparked an “intra-office controversy” in May at his old publication for pitching a story about how police killings of black people was decreasing.
Yglesias left Vox in November, telling The Atlantic that he felt he was unable to give his view on subjects “without riling his colleagues.” In his first post on Substack, Yglesias wrote that “there was an inherent tension between my status as a co-founder of the site and my desire to be a fiercely independent and at times contentious voice.”
One example, Yglesias wrote on Tuesday, stemmed from a story pitch amid 2020’s growing Black Lives Matter movement. Yglesias wrote that his pitch, which he felt portrayed the movement in a positive light, sparked backlash within the company.
“Similarly, back in late May, I ran into accidental intra-office controversy by pitching a piece about how police killings of African-Americans had become less common since Ferguson,” Yglesias wrote on his website. “My thought was that this was good, it showed that political pressure for reform was delivering results. But it was heard by many people as dismissing the problem, or ignoring the lived experiences of people who’ve suffered at the hands of the police.”
2/ “You are ignoring the lived experience of [some subset of some group in light of a broader statistical argument]” is Tumblr-speak that doesn’t mean anything. If this holds any sway in mainstream newsrooms, we’re in trouble.
— Jesse Singal (@jessesingal) December 29, 2020
Vox did end up posting the article and Yglesias did not provide specific names of those he said became irritated at the story idea.
Yglesias gave the example amid his piece explaining why the CARES Act “was a huge success.” He wrote that “progressives should learn to be happy when good things happen” and gave examples of the “norm in American progressive politics of looking at every glass as half empty.”
“Basically, the understanding is that whoever can paint the darkest possible portrait of the status quo is the one who is showing the most commitment to the cause,” Yglesias wrote before adding that this method is “counterproductive.”
“And you see this norm at work across climate change, health care, criminal justice reform, the economy, and everything else. If you’re not saying the sky is falling, that shows you don’t really care. A true comrade in the struggle would deny that any progress has been made or insist that any good news is trivial,” he continued.
Vox not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller.
The publication had a more public controversy with Yglesias after he signed an open letter endorsing free speech in July. Some colleagues took to Twitter to publicly condemn the letter and Yglesias’ decision to sign it, while others openly backed his choice. (RELATED: People At Vox Are Mad That Other People At Vox Support Free Speech)
Vox’s critic-at-large Emily VanDerWerff, for one, wrote a letter to Vox editors complaining that Yglesias’ decision to sign the letter made her feel “less safe.” She later posted a version of the letter on Twitter.
Editor’s note: Yglesias was the subject of controversy after implying that antifa was justified showing up to Daily Caller cofounder Tucker Carlson’s house and harassing his wife. (RELATED: Vox’s Matthew Yglesias Can’t ‘Empathize’ With Violence Against The Wife Of A Conservative)