The New York Times tweeted several times this week criticizing a reader for joking about killing a pundit if they finished the Times‘ crossword puzzle. Then, the Times turned around and deleted the tweets.
In a April 10 tweet, the Times wrote, “We’ve deleted some tweets from yesterday that were against our social media guidelines for the newsroom.” iMediaEthics wrote to the Times to ask what exactly broke social media guidelines and what went wrong; the Times only pointed to its tweet saying it deleted the tweets.
The Twitter account, @DxGGEAUX, which has around 28,000 followers, had tweeted, “If youre [sic] the first to complete the new york times crossword puzzle on any given day and are able to deliver conclusive evidence of this feat, the NYT editorial staff allow you to execute one pundit of your choice. full legal amnesty and all.”
@DxGGEAUX then tweeted screenshots of the responses to him from the NYTimes Wordplay account, which has about 17,000 followers, presciently writing, “I need to preserve the beauty of this whole exchange in case they decide to delete it all.”
Some of the now-deleted tweets from the Times read, “Whoa there cowperson. We don’t joke about executing journalists around these parts,” “it’s not true and it’s not funny,” if you had a modicum of compassion, you wouldn’t post something like this.”
Earlier this year, the New York Times‘ crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz apologized because a puzzle had a Hispanic slur, “beaner,” as the answer to the clue “pitch to the head, informally.” Shortz said he didn’t know it was a slur, but admitted “maybe we live in rarefied circles.”
Hat Tip: Mediaite
The NYT tweets were altogether appropriate.. Should they ignore online death threats against journalists just because they are veiled as ‘just-kidding” tweets? If anything the Times was too gentle. A death threat is a death threat — especially in these times — and a felony in most states.