‘They Hate Gay People’: Ex-NYT Editor Says He Was Shamed By HR, Colleagues For Liking Chick-Fil-A

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Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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A former editor for The New York Times said he was shamed by his colleagues and Human Resources (HR) simply for liking Chick-Fil-A.

The former editor, Adam Rubenstein, wrote in a piece for The Atlantic that he and a dozen other hires did an ice breaker at orientation and received a prompt asking about his favorite sandwich. An HR representative scolded him when he answered the spicy chicken sandwich from Chick-Fil-A, he wrote.

“We don’t do that here. They hate gay people,” an HR representative reportedly told Rubenstein.

“Not the politics, the chicken,” Rubenstein said, according to his piece.

He said being a conservative at the Times made him an outcast that received more rounds of editing and “greater involvement from the higher-ups” than his peers.

“There was a sense that publishing the occasional conservative voice made the paper look centrist,” Rubenstein wrote for The Atlantic. “But I soon realized that the conservative voices we published tended to be ones agreeing with the liberal line. It was also clear that right-of-center submissions were treated differently. They faced a higher bar for entry, more layers of editing, and greater involvement of higher-ups. Standard practice held that when a writer submitted an essay to an editor, the editor would share that draft with colleagues via an email distribution list. Then we would all discuss it.”

“But many of my colleagues didn’t want their name attached to op-eds advancing conservative arguments, and early-to-mid-career staffers would routinely oppose their publication. After senior leaders in the Opinion section realized that these articles were not getting a fair shake, the process evolved. Articles that were potentially ‘controversial; (read: conservative) were sent directly to the most senior editors on the page, to be scrutinized by the leadership rather than the whole department.”

Rubenstein edited an op-ed by Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton titled “Send in the Troops,” which called for law enforcement to quell the Black Lives Matter riots in the summer of 2020, he wrote. He said he resigned from the Times in December 2020 after the piece received swift backlash. (RELATED: Former New York Times Editor Slams Paper, Publisher For Departure Over The Tom Cotton Op-Ed)

Cotton’s office sent him several photos, one being of the Mississippi riots in 1962, that he wanted published in the embattled piece, and so he sent them to the photo editor to “consider,” according to his piece. The photo editor, Jeffrey Henson Scales, reportedly replied that it was a “false equivalence” and sent him another email with the black box to show his solidarity with the BLM movement.

Following the op-ed’s publication, an outcry arose among staffers at the Times who claimed it endangered their black colleagues, he wrote.

“It was an outlandish claim but next to impossible to rebut—how can you tell someone who says they’re not safe that, in fact, they’re fine? Did they know that in some states, troops had already been deployed to protect public safety? Were we reading the same op-ed? Were they serious?” Rubenstein wrote for The Atlantic.

He said the paper refused to confront “the tough reality” that the op-ed was “within the bounds of reasonable discourse” and refused to accept “a mainstream American view.”

“As painful as it was in my mid-20s to think that my journalistic career would end as a result of this episode, it’s even more painful to think that newsrooms haven’t learned the right lessons from it,” he wrote. “If the Times or any other outlet aims to cover America as it is and not simply how they want it to be, they should recruit more editors and reporters with conservative backgrounds, and then support them in their work. They should hire journalists, not activists. And they should remember that heterodoxy isn’t heresy.”

He further pointed out in his piece that the Times added an editor’s note containing “many errors,” including its claim that it was “rushed” and that “senior editors were not sufficiently involved” in its initial publication. Rubenstein said none of those claims were true.