After The Daily Beast broke the story that Times reporter Donald McNeil Jr. had been accused of making sexist and racist remarks, including the "n-word" while leading a student trip in Peru, the outlet reported Wednesday that more than 150 Times employees had signed a letter and sent it to their bosses stating they were "deeply disturbed" by the paper's handling of the controversy.
"We, his colleagues, feel disrespected by his actions. The company has a responsibility to take that experience seriously," the letter read, according to the Beast.
The letter called on the Times to further investigate the claims against McNeil, including any potential claims of racism that may have surfaced since the first report broke, and having McNeil apologize to the student and parents involved with the trip as well as to his colleagues.
"Our community is outraged and in pain," the letter read. "Despite The Times’s seeming commitment to diversity and inclus.ion, we have given a prominent platform—a critical beat covering a pandemic disproportionately affecting people of color—to someone who chose to use language that is offensive and unacceptable by any newsroom’s standards. He did so while acting as a representative for The Times, in front of high school students."
The letter was welcomed by Times executive editor Dean Baquet, publisher A.G. Sulzberger, and chief executive Meredith Kopit Levien, who responded: "We appreciate the spirit in which it was offered and we largely agree with the message". They added that "teams of people" were looking into issues raised in the letter and the results will be provided to staff
The Times did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.
McNeil, the Times' science and health reporter who has spent the past year covering the coronavirus outbreak for the paper, was reportedly disciplined by the Times after he led students on a trip that was organized by the company Putney Student Travel and part of a program called New York Times Student Journeys.
The Beast reported that several participants filed complaints against McNeil, accusing the 66-year-old of making "racist and sexist remarks throughout the trip including, according to two complaints, using the 'n-word.'"
At least six complaints from either the students or their parents outlined allegations that McNeil used inflammatory rhetoric in addition to making statements about not believing in the concept of White privilege and using "stereotypes about Black teenagers."
"I expect immediate action on the actions taken by Donald, I am deeply disappointed about the New York Times because of the comments he made during our trip," one participant expressed in a review of the trip obtained by the Beast. "I think firing him would even be appropriate."
"Not only did Donald say various racist comments on numerous occasions, but he was also disrespectful to many students during mealtimes and in other settings," another review read.
"I would change the journalist. He was a racist," a third person wrote. "He used the ‘N’ word, said horrible things about black [sic] teenagers, and said white [sic] supremacy doesn’t exist."
McNeil, who has been with the paper since 1976, was reportedly disciplined by the Times, according to a statement provided to the Beast.
"In 2019, Donald McNeil, Jr. participated in a Student Journeys as an expert. We subsequently became aware of complaints by some of the students on the trip concerning certain statements Donald had made during the trip," a Times spokesperson told the Beast. "We conducted a thorough investigation and disciplined Donald for statements and language that had been inappropriate and inconsistent with our values. We found he had used bad judgment by repeating a racist slur in the context of a conversation about racist language. In addition, we apologized to the students who had participated in the trip."