Another New York Times editor with a history of bigoted tweets

August 23, 2019 • 9:45 am

Tom Wright-Piersanti is a senior staff editor at the New York Times, and, according to many sources, including the Washington Examiner, The Hill, the New York Post, and so on, it was found that he had a long history of pretty blatant anti-Asian and anti-Semitic remarks in his Twitter feed. Granted, this was about nine years ago, but that history shows someone who, at least then, wasn’t exactly open-minded about certain issues. (Oh hell, let’s just say he was a “bigot”.)

Now the Times fired Quinn Norton as a tech writer over her history of questionable tweets, but decided to retain tech editor Sarah Jeong, who had an equally questionable history of bigoted postings on Twitter (see all my posts on Jeong here). Jeong was allowed to keep her prestigious position at the Times after issuing an apology and saying that her offensive tweets were really just hyperbolic satire of the abuse she had received as an Asian “woman of color” who wrote for other venues. And, of course, she was making fun of white people, which is an offense that can be written off.

But Wright-Piersanti doesn’t have either of those defenses. And so I think it would be hard for the Times to excuse stuff like the following:

Jews, Indians, and other Asians as well:

Here’s his comment on a police car that looked like it had a menorah on the roof:

These don’t seem to constitute retaliatory humor of the Jeong-ian stripe.

As the New York Post reports, Wright-Piersanti has a long history of being what he called other people:

At the time of most of the objectionable tweets, Wright-Piersanti was working at the Star-Ledger in Newark. But he apparently had no love for some of his colleagues there.

“I am a ball of f–king rage. I HATE being talked down to by my peers. Fat, frog-looking bitch,” he tweeted in November 2010.

Wright-Piersanti’s Twitter page suggests he adores the word “douche,” which crops up more than a dozen times.

“He looks like a douche. His facebook page was totally open, I could have used a photo of him posing in front of a mirror like a girl,” he wrote on Feb. 18, 2011.

Wright-Piersanti joined the Times in 2014. But before he got there, he often blasted his future employer.

“What the NYTimes does is take your story, spice it up with a dash of *douche zest* and then a million people read it,” he tweeted on Oct. 13, 2010.

On Oct. 10, 2013, he was at it again, venting against a Times reporter who was dispatched to do a story from Montclair, NJ. “Maybe NYT was right to send a douche,” he tweeted before apparently quoting a line from an NYT story that offended him: “Montclair likes to think of itself as having more of a mix of races and classes than other suburbs.”

And on the Amish, he tweeted in August 2010, “I’m working on a tell-all expose of the Amish; calling it, ‘more like Pennsylvania Douche.’ ”

This morning I discovered that he’d made his Twitter page private, which is a shame because it was funny to see everyone calling him out, many with humor, for his history of bigotry. Before he made his page private he wrote this apology, which has also vanished:

I have deleted tweets from a decade ago that are offensive. I am deeply sorry.

— Tom Wright-Piersanti (@tomwp) August 22, 2019

And now what you see when you go there is this:

I’m not going to say that Wright-Piersanti should be fired. That would be up to his employer, the New York Times, and I have no strong feelings one way or the other. Perhaps he’s rehabilitated, though I think it’s awfully hard to root out this kind of bigotry.

But surely employees should be treated equally for equal transgressions, and it still rankles me that Jeong was given a pass while similar miscreants were fired or demoted (the Times just demoted another editor this week for past tweets that were seen as racist or insulting characterizations of four Democratic Representatives: Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Lloyd Doggett, and John Lewis).

h/t: cesar

53 thoughts on “Another New York Times editor with a history of bigoted tweets

  1. If he’s rehabilitated there will be clear evidence of it. If not, he should be removed from the paper. That’s my opinion as a subscriber.

    1. What’s your opinion of the paper overall? I hear it called too right-wing by some, and then I hear it called too woke by others. I don’t read it so I don’t know, but I hear the same polarised criticisms leveled at the BBC and in that case it’s a sign that the Beeb is doing its job.

      Because I read WEIT I only see examples of the ‘overly-woke’ elements but I’ve heard that NYT also has conservatives writing articles for it and has a broad spectrum of opinions. So it’s hard for me to tell.

      1. When I hear complaints about the NYTimes being overly woke, I remember back to the days of Judith Miller and how the NYTimes was a pawn in GW Bush’s march to war.

        I think the Times tries to represent a spectrum from “woke” to “conservative”. My own frustrations are more likely to be triggered by BS from Russ Douthat and the vapid David Brooks.

        The Times remains one of the two major papers actually performing the old fashioned (and much needed) investigative journalism which is why I subscribe. (The other being The Washington Post, of course.)

        1. Ugh. Even I know of Ross Douthat(why do I always mentally autocorrect it to ‘douche-hat’?), mainly due to articles I’ve read here. I can’t remember if it was him or someone else who wrote a quite stunningly nasty article about Hitchens after he died, questioning his attempts to look for a cure, etc… Perhaps it wasn’t Douthat, but I’ve heard him make some pretty ghastly arguments nevertheless.

          It’s hard for me to square the idea that a magazine that’s excessively ‘woke’ would continue to employ people like him and Brooks.

          1. My view is slightly different from hour host’s for that reason. Yeah… they publish woke-ish stuff, but they also publish conservative pablum. So PCC[e] gets fodder for the “they’re so woke” position, but over on the right, people demonize the NY Times as a socialist paper publishing “fake news”.

            1. I don’t read The Times but maybe they try to cover the spread. CNN online leans left, center, and right in its various editorials, as another example. I personally see no problem with a rag trying to present arguments from different sides.

        2. Those are just the editorial pages though, which take up a few pages in an entire week. What’s your opinion on the paper in general? With regard to how it reports, what it reports, what agenda it has? Just curious, not looking for any particular answer. I just don’t think editorials necessarily reflect a paper’s purpose or agenda, unless those editorials are heavily skewed one way (in the case of the NYT, they certainly are skewed toward woke, but they still have plenty of “conservative,” although “conservative” in this case means exclusively Never-Trumpers except when they have a guest like Mitch McConnell).

            1. Cool, I appreciate the opinion.

              There are some really good online outlets that do long-form, investigative journalism. It has become a specialty at this point. Here are some others you might like from across the political spectrum, though some are more focused on opinion and others on investigative journalism, and one or two a blend of those:

              Longform (creative name, I know)


              Current Affairs


              National Review has good long-form/investigative pieces when they do them, as does Reason. Eugene Volokh’s pieces in the latter, though not usually very long, are excellent.

            2. Sorry, I know I’m forgetting quite a few that I often visit, but I meant to add Narratively at the end there. Very interesting website with a lot of more personally focused stories.

  2. To sorta-quote someone or other: Let them say what they want – how else will we know that they’re a–holes? (Feel sure that someone here will know the full quote and who said it.)

  3. Of course, Jeong was full of crap from the start. Here’s what she wrote just the other day about those tweets in a larger article about Gamergate (yes, we’re still talking about that apparently, as the NYT decided to have a series of terrible essays on it):

    This August is an anniversary for me as well. Last year, I landed in hot water for a number of tweets I’d posted years before about white people, especially white men. They were irreverent jokes — some responses to people harassing me, others outright snark. Some were parodies of race science like Charles Murray’s “The Bell Curve.” Stripped of context and viewed many years later, they were enough to start an online conflagration about “reverse racism.”

    “Tucker Carlson did a segment about me on Fox News. The president called me “disgusting” in a tweet. Shortly after the arrest of Mr. Sayoc, the MAGA bomber, the media discovered that he had sent me a death threat on Twitter.

    So, some were just “snark” or “parody.” and not targeted at harassers. I guess it doesn’t matter now, as her job is secure. If you look at most of them “in context,” there appears to be zero context, just racism against white people and sexism against men. But there are certain people the Hierarchy of Oppression allows you to get away with denigrating as a group, and she chose the right ones. I wonder if, as an Asian woman (and extremely economically and socially privileged, at that, but nobody cares about those things), she could have gotten away with a few tweets about Jews. Probably not, but only because the NYT readership has a larger-than-usual number of Jews.

      1. You’re 100% right on this. Every time I see someone criticizing it, they’re criticizing the myth of what it’s about that’s been passed down from the media and other people. They have no idea what’s actually in the book.

        Nor do they have any idea what sorts of policies Charles Murray advocates, like UBI, for example.

  4. “I think it’s awfully hard to root out this kind of bigotry.”

    He’s an equal opportunity bigot, who should be fired post haste. The terms I would like to use to describe him are terms he freely uses, and then some.

    If they kept him on hoping he’d be rehabilitated, how long would it take and how would they know? Because he said so? A sudden revelation? Let him get a job at Breitbart.

    1. Agreed. It’d be quite a sweet joke if it wasn’t posted by this berk.

      He comes across as a tedious, wannabe-Parker-and-Stone shitposter – trying to get a rise out of people with dodgy humour. The trouble is that those types are almost indistinguishable from genuine racists/misogynists.

      1. Yeah, I thought the be-menorah-ed cop car was funny, too.

        But I found the verbiage “Jew-police” to reek of antisemitism.

  5. To be fair, the “Jew Police” one is pretty funny. That’s something I’d have expected to see in a Mel Brooks movie. (The earlier one about “jew year” sounds more mean-spirited.)

  6. The more loud and finger-wagging the moralist the more certain you can be that they’re a massive hypocrite. Use that as a rule of thumb and it’ll rarely lead you astray.

  7. How does someone like this — especially with a public job — think any of this is OK? What goes through the minds of such people? Just how stupid and full of hate do you have to be? I can think of at least one really yuge personality we can test this theory on.

      1. The fact that these tweets are from a decade ago gives him a certain amount of leeway. A demotion sounds about right, as long as he’s made aware that his behaviour will be under the microscope from now on.

  8. He is much improved by this kitty concealer he’s wisely applied to his skin. Needs a Maine Coon for the hairline though [more entertaining fix than the usual American baseball cap which is just lazy]:

    How am I doing on the TWP scale? 6?

    1. Having popped his bill about Jews, etc., and being so breathtakingly exigent in his sense of entitlement, he probably does deserve to be ridiculed for not having won the tonsorial genetic lottery. (A few years ago a Times article about Trump’s now former head of White House security described him as “bullet-headed.” Everybody’s head is shaped some way, eh? As a matter of principle I think everyone mentioned in the Times should have their head shape described. I wonder if there’s an optimal head shape the Times seeks when interviewing prospective employees.)

    2. I must disagree that he becomes less odious because he posed with a cat. I don’t feel any sympathy for Cardinal Richelieu, Marie Antoinette, a couple of popes and Eva Braun (who seemed to like all manner of animals), all of whom liked cats. Mussolini may have despised domestic cats but had a pet lion. Nor can I be brought to like Hemingway’s writing (I don’t) because he was an ailurophile.

      Do vegetarians feel some sympathy for Hitler because he was a vetgetarian, too? I hope not.

      1. “In simili modo” I don’t warm to Breitbart or Donald Trump, Junior because B revealed the tweets and Junior is fanning the flames. I don’t give a damn who or what entity brought this to the fore.

          1. This isn’t directed at you since you didn’t write the headline, but how is this a “right-wing smear”? That’s an insane statement by Raw Story. Any facts about someone who’s on the Left brought up by someone on the Right are now automatically “Right Wing Smear[s]”?

            This is like when I hear MSNBC pundits say Omar, Tlaib, etc. are getting criticized for being “women of color who dare to speak up” and not because of, oh, antisemitism or something.

            Like you said, it doesn’t matter who brought the facts to the fore. It doesn’t make me like them any more or less, but they are facts.

            1. Jr. tweeted a Breitbart article about Mr. Crappy Jew Year. That makes it a “right-wing smear” even though everything in the Breitbart article* is factual — indeed, is mostly comprised of MCJY’s tweets.

              Here’s the sitrep: Left-wing media refuses to report on certain stories, then dismisses them as ‘right wing smears’ when only the conservative media report on them.

              Kafka was born too early.


            2. Thanks! I certainly do not endorse that take on the matter. I was quite put off by the headline, but posted the link anyway because of the information it contained.

              It’s also good to know what slant a news source takes concerning controversial matters. Raw Story made theirs crystal clear.

              1. “It’s also good to know what slant a news source takes concerning controversial matters. Raw Story made theirs crystal clear.”

                Yes, headlines like this are quite useful in that regard 🙂

  9. I don’t think that’s a police car with something resembling a menorah. It’s a regular car bedecked with a menorah and a sign reading “Happy Hanukkah” making it resemble a police car.

    This guy seems like a real douche (to borrow his favourite epithet) but I’m happy to see that you’re not calling for him to be deplatformed.

  10. Pretty much all our schoolyard humour was of this sort when I was a kid. Any outstanding characteristic was an excuse for a joke about it. Frankly, I think it thickened and toughened our skins and was part of the process that taught us as children that we can’t always have our way and that there will be adversity. Where will such training come from in a future (maybe it’s already here) where kids never hear “no”, never have to wait, get all their personal pride from their likes on Instagram and believe they are princesses and superheroes – both at once in some cases? I read yesterday that 65% of cis-gendered kids at college (75% for trans) meet the requirements for a mental health diagnosis. That’s how well we have prepared them for the tiny bit of organisation and self-reliance required to go and be spoonfed information for an undergrad degree. Maybe we should have teased them and told a few mean jokes…

    1. @chrism I call bullshit on your entire absurd post.


      I’ll start with this little gem where you failed to provide a source – what is your source?:

      “I read yesterday that 65% of cis-gendered kids at college (75% for trans) meet the requirements for a mental health diagnosis”

      I looked around & the nearest I could find contradicts your recollection or places the emphasis somewhat differently:

      “College students with non-traditional gender identities reported two to four times as many symptoms of mental health conditions as cisgender students, according to cross-sectional survey data.

      Among 65,213 students, about half of cisgender students and three-quarters of gender minorities — including transgender, genderqueer, and self-identifying gender students — reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, eating disorders or non-suicidal self-injury, reported Sarah Ketchen Lipson, PhD, of Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues.

      As shown in the study online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, transmasculine students (assigned female sex at birth) were a particularly vulnerable group compared with cisgender men, with a higher odds of meeting at least one mental health condition (odds ratio 3.9, 95% CI 2.9-5.1), including suicidal ideation (OR 2.6, 95% CI 2.1-3.2) and suicide attempts (OR 2.31, 95% CI 1.4-3.9) after adjusting for sociodemographic variables and sexuality.

      MY SOURCE, AUGUST 2019


      Chrism: blockquote>”That’s how well we have prepared them for the tiny bit of organisation and self-reliance required to go and be spoon fed information for an undergrad degree. Maybe we should have teased them and told a few mean jokes…” If you’d absorbed the survey you ‘read’ you would not have reached that conclusion & I think it likely you were not very observant as a kid – take this statement:

      “Pretty much all our school yard humour was of this sort when I was a kid. Any outstanding characteristic was an excuse for a joke about it. Frankly, I think it thickened and toughened our skins and was part of the process that taught us as children that we can’t always have our way and that there will be adversity”

      this is all fine & dandy except for the small, but just as important & valuable, group of kiddos who have crumpled under the years of sustained verbal bullying from their peers – the toughening up which you recommend doesn’t work.

      “Where will such training come from in a future (maybe it’s already here) where kids never hear “no”, never have to wait, get all their personal pride from their likes on Instagram and believe they are princesses and superheroes – both at once in some cases?”

      This is an appalling assessment of the current crop of young uns & doesn’t align with my UK experience of children/youth today. I am 63 & my own anecdotal evidence runs opposite to yours, I find teens to be far more mature now & far more willing to accept differences rather than pointing & laughing. I see less narcissism generally despite the manifold internet means to feed ego. In the real world there are plenty of kids who don’t get what they want upon demand.

      What you perceive as weakness is quite possibly kids who listen better with an increased capacity to put themselves in the shoes of others.

      It’s called empathy.

      1. Yes but it’s so much easier to call everyone under the age of 30 a snowflake and sneer at them for being ‘woke’.

        I’m beginning to just turn off mentally when I hear someone use that word as an insult now. Like a lot of politically charged words, the word ‘woke’ is losing its meaning due to overuse by partisans.

        “Pretty much all our schoolyard humour was of this sort when I was a kid. Any outstanding characteristic was an excuse for a joke about it.”

        This is the kind of mentality that got Trump elected. ‘Schoolyard bullying isn’t a bad thing. More than that we need MORE of it. It’ll toughen up all those youngsters I’ve only heard about because I read right-wing websites that aggregate bad stories about them.’

        Whenever I’m in doubt about where I am in the political spectrum I remind myself: I’m on the opposite side of people who think like that. I have been bullied, and I have been a bully; and in both cases they were simultaneously damaging to me and to others.

    1. That’s a troll answer – avoid engagement & keep prodding. Pathetic.

      Where’s the source for your stats chrism? And how does a 63 year old calling out your bullshit equate to contemporary teens lacking in toughness & being thin of skin? Logic into trolls doesn’t go.

  11. Dear me. “Bullshit”, “absurd”, “troll”? You do seem a little over-invested in being right. My source is the same as yours. My aged brain underestimated one percentage (75% for what was 78% in the article) and went the other way for the other number (65% for what was 45% in the source). Not bad for an aged brain, and no doubt I should have gone back and rechecked the numbers if I knew someone would latch onto them rather than my point. That point remains; we probably agree there is an issue with young people finding themselves in extraordinary difficulties on arrival at college. Responses such as safe spaces and trigger warnings are clearly counter-productive. So what’s to be done? I would argue, in all seriousness (despite you preferring to assume I am some sort of troll), that the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ doesn’t just apply to the immune system. Total protection of our children’s characters against the unpleasantness of the world leaves them unprepared to face it without Mummy and Daddy. The answer might be as simple as joining the scouting movement and leaving the cellphone at home, or it may be too complicated for us to see as we enter the stagnation and downturn phase of our population growth curve. These are things to engage with, rather than crossly trying to prove me a troll because I have learned to take a joke.
    Oh, Saul – I didn’t use the word “snowflake” and your attempt to conflate my tolerance for jokes – aimed, remember, at me in the schoolyard – with being a Trump supporter is as inaccurate as it is insulting.

    1. What you wrote:

      “I read yesterday that 65% of cis-gendered kids at college (75% for trans) meet the requirements for a mental health diagnosis”

      What you should have written:

      “I read yesterday that 45% of cis-gendered kids at college (78% for trans) meet the requirements for a mental health diagnosis”

      Interesting snippets quoted from the link:

      The vast majority of the sample was cisgender (98%) and two-thirds were white. Overall, 78% of gender minority and 45% of cisgender youth reported at least one symptom of a mental health problem.


      “The stigmatization of gender minorities produces stressors that can trigger psychological responses, leading to mental health vulnerabilities, said co-author Sara Abelson, MPH, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

      This can include stigmatization at the structural level, such as discriminatory policies, or at the interpersonal level, such as harassment or family rejection, Abelson told MedPage Today.

      Gender minority youth have previously been identified as having an increased risk for mental health problems, including suicide, noted Elizabeth Boskey, PhD, MPH, of Boston Children’s Hospital, who was not involved with the study”

      I have no objection at all, in principle, to your cultural “hygiene hypothesis” now that you’ve dropped the description that matches bullying. It makes sense that we social beings need to learn to socialise under variable conditions – some of them arduous physical, verbal & behavioural [cold shoulder, sent to Coventry, aping etc] ‘knocks & bumps.’ But it doesn’t follow that taking the piss in the school yard, out of those who are different is the way to go!

  12. Good lord, you are invested, aren’t you? I understand bullying. A fat and bright kid in a newly formed comprehensive, I learned that a teacher could take the register and look up at the blood dripping down from my smashed teeth, and look down again without bothering to ask anything at all. I understand that kind of bullying. Good-natured jokes about characteristics like being chubby and being smart are not bullying. Living in terror of the testosterone-driven maniacs who had large fists and no brains was bullying, and I’m not sure still how I didn’t follow through on the many suicide plans I formulated.
    We might have discussed something useful, but I rather get the sense that ‘winning’ is vastly more important to you than anything else. But you like to use your verbal fists just like the bullies I knew at school: a way of enforcing your worldview on me without listening to any opposing argument. I can’t recommend Oliver Cromwell for much, but his (attributed) words “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken” have something to recommend themselves to all of us. If we are certain that we are right, we can learn nothing from anyone else. Do think on that.

    1. You can reply under my comment rather than new. Now we’ve established that when you write “…teased them and told a few mean jokes…” [your first comment] that was not bullying & when you recommend toughening up our current crop of kids with “good-natured jokes about characteristics like being chubby and being smart” [your last comment] – that is not bullying either.

      In your first comment, before you introduced your personal side of the equation [about your suicidal thoughts brought on by being physically & verbally assaulted & no adult caring a jot] – you write approvingly that “ANY OUTSTANDING CHARACTERISTIC [my caps] was an excuse for a joke about it. Frankly, I think it thickened and toughened our skins…” & that is my recollection too & it certainly didn’t consist of just joshing about being book smart or being a blob. THAT is the truth & I’m disappointed that you regard all that as worthy & positive. You with your history!

      In fact why don’t we put it on the curriculum? Comedy is the theatre of cruelty after all & we could all do with a jolly good bit of shaming to set us up for the day. Monty Python tune & camera fades in to a classroom:

      “One hour after Tuesday registration with Mr. Hickey we will be picking on a new pupil each week. Jon looks particularly good – he may be gay [he doesn’t know] & his dad died last week. Who wants to start? Michel you’ve usually got something good up your sleeve, why don’t you start us off?”

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