2 journalists at The New York Times left the company following separate controversies

  • Two staffers of The New York Times resigned on Friday amid separate scandals.
  • Donald McNeil resigned amid internal backlash for his reported use of a racial slur in 2019.
  • Andy Mills resigned from the company in part due to his role as producer of the “Caliphate” podcast.
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Two staffers of The New York Times resigned Friday for their role in two distinct scandals at the company, both of which had drawn intense scrutiny on social media and from within the company itself. 

Donald McNeil, a science reporter who recently covered coronavirus but had been employed with the times for more than four decades, resigned from the company after reports of inappropriate behavior that centered around his use of a racial slur during a New York Times-sponsored trip with students to Peru in 2019.

In January, the New York Times in a statement said it had conducted an investigation that confirmed McNeil had used the slur during the trip and would be disciplined. 

“We conducted a thorough investigation and disciplined Donald for statements and language that had been inappropriate and inconsistent with our values,” the January statement read. “We found he had used bad judgment by repeating a racist slur in the context of a conversation about racist language.”

In a letter this week to management, more than 150 New York Times staffer called for further investigation into the allegations against McNeil, as The Daily Beast reported.

Read more: New York Times insiders describe tensions over its response to the ‘Caliphate’ disaster, and they reveal the internal politics of its red-hot audio business

The New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet and managing editor Joe Kahn confirmed McNeil’s departure in a memo to staff sent Friday.

“We do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent,” they said, calling his departure from the company “the right next step.”

“We are committed to building a news report and company that reflect our core values of integrity and respect, and will work with urgency to create clearer guidelines and enforcement about conduct in the workplace, including red-line issues on racist language,” they added.

McNeil apologized in a statement to his colleagues that read in part, “I thought the context in which I used this ugly word could be defended. I now realize that it cannot.”

Andy Mills, an audio producer who also worked on “The Daily” podcast, also resigned on Friday. His resignation came nearly two months after the scandal surrounding the “Caliphate” podcast published in 2018. Late last year, the New York Times issued an editor’s note that acknowledged a key source in the podcast had uttered “significant falsehoods and other discrepancies” during the popular series. 

Baquet and Kahn also Friday confirmed Mills’ resignation in a note to staff.

Mills had previously been accused of inappropriate behavior, and the recent concerns over “Caliphate” had reignited concerns over the previous accusations, including claims of unwanted touching and his pouring a beer over a colleague’s head, as Insider previously reported.

“Today I’m resigning from The New York Times. Those are not words I ever wanted to write,” Mills said in a statement posted to his personal website. “While I remain proud of our team and what we were able to accomplish with Caliphate, getting any aspect of any story wrong, by any degree, is a journalist’s worst nightmare.

Mills said his resignation wasn’t due to the controversy over the “Caliphate” podcast. The producer also elaborated on and apologized for his recently resurfaced “past personal conduct.” 

“Like all human beings, I have made mistakes that I wish I could take back,” he said. “Nine years ago, when I first moved to New York City, I regularly attended monthly public radio meet up parties where I looked for love and eventually earned a reputation as a flirt.”

“Eight years ago during a team meeting, I gave a colleague a back rub. Seven years ago I poured a drink on a coworker’s head at a drunken bar party,” he said. “I look back at those actions with extraordinary regret and embarrassment.” 

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