The New York Times on Thursday said that it has investigated and "disciplined" one of it star reporters Donald McNeil Jr. for repeatedly making racist and sexist comments while accompanying a Times students trip to Peru in 2019. The statement first given to the Daily Beast by the NYT mentions that several students complained that McNeil would repeatedly use the n-word and would offend students with statements that are "inappropriate and inconsistent" with the values of the newspaper.
Every year, the NYT selects some of its top reporters as subject guides for high-school students on trips to various international locations. In 2019, McNeil, a high-profile health and science reporter who joined the paper in 1976, was chosen to lead a team to Peru on an educational vacation that focused on community-based health care in the region.
According to the statement given to the Daily Beast, Mc Neil would often make racist comments to the students during the trip. Multiple students complained about McNeil's inappropriate behavior with The Daily Beast. Several students accused McNeil of making racist and sexist remarks throughout the trip. Two of the complainants said that he would often the "n-word."
At least six other students, who were part of the 26-meamber touring group, said that McNeil used racially insensitive or outright racist language throughout the trip. Two students specifically alleged that McNeil used the "n-word" and would suggest he did not believe in the concept of white privilege.
Three other students complained that the science and health reporter made racist comments and used 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. I think firing him would even be appropriate," one participant wrote in the review.
"He used the 'N' word, said horrible things about black teenagers, and said white supremacy doesn't exist," another student wrote.
McNeil is one of the most prominent names in journalism in the United States. His coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has also been submitted for consideration for a Pulitzer Prize this year. However, his conduct now may play spoilsport.
In the statement given to the outlet, the NYT said: "We subsequently became aware of complaints by some of the students on the trip concerning certain statements Donald had made during the trip. We conducted a thorough investigation and disciplined Donald for statements and language that had been inappropriate and inconsistent with our values."
The statement also mentions that the paper found that McNeil "had used bad judgment by repeating a racist slur in the context of a conversation about racist language." The journalist, however, is yet to accept the allegations. "Don't believe everything you read," he said in an email, with no further elaboration," McNeil told the Washington Post on Thursday.
NYT Executive Editor Dean Baquet, who had time and again praised McNeil, for his commitment toward the profession, said his comments were "offensive" and "showed extremely poor judgement," but he determined that the reporter's intentions were not "hateful or malicious" and that he deserved another chance.