The New York Times has become mired in an acrimonious public dispute over its coverage of transgender issues. A letter signed by more than 1,200 writers (both freelance and staff) for the newspaper has challenged the paper for mainstreaming transphobic ideas. A separate letter from the human rights group GLAAD also criticized the Times. The editors of the newspaper dismissed both letters and affirmed their faith in the professionalism of their handling of this issue.
For The Nation, Jack Mirkinson, an interim senior editor at the magazine, wrote an important and detailed article noting that this is not the first time the Times has had to grapple with accusations of prejudice against LGBTQ people. As Jack documents, under the tenure of the late Abe Rosenthal from 1969 to 1986, the newspaper took what it now itself admits was a homophobic editorial line. Among other things, the paper treated the rising gay rights movement with suspicion, refused to use the term “gay” from 1975 to 1987, and downplayed the AIDS crisis.
For this week’s podcast, Jack and I talk about the Times’ acknowledged history of homophobia and how it undermines the newspaper’s argument that it should be trusted on current transgender disputes.
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