On September 19, 2014, Quinn Norton tweeted, “Today I realized I’d probably make a lot more money being a racist for @nytimes.” On Tuesday, Norton was hired by the New York Times to be their “lead opinion writer on the power, culture and consequences of technology.” However, she and the Times parted ways later that day after tweets where she used the n word, a gay slur, and said she was friends with neo-Nazis were uncovered.
After the tweets using the slur were initially uncovered, the Times said in a statement to the Daily Beast’s Max Tani that they were “very concerned about the tweets that are circulating today and are looking into the matter.” Later that night, James Bennet, the editorial page editor, said in a statement to TKNN, “Despite our review of Quinn Norton’s work and our conversations with her previous employers, this was new information to us. Based on it, we’ve decided to go our separate ways.”
A New York Times spokesperson did not answer whether the news organization checks potential employees’ Twitter accounts.
Norton broke the news of her dismissal earlier in the evening, tweeting, “As I said so many times to the @nytimes, no harm no foul.
“I’m sorry I can’t do the work I wanted to do with them. I wish there had been a way, but ultimately, they need to feel safe with how the net will react to their opinion writers.”
Norton also attempted to explain some of her tweets by saying that just because she was friends with a neo-Nazi, that does not mean she supports that and does not define friendship in that way. She also explained that she used the gay slur because that term was commonly used in the Anonymous communities that she covered throughout the years.
Norton also issued a warning to those who brought her down, “What I need is for you to see yourself as powerful, as people who can change the world. And I want you to think about how you’re wield that power.”
“Choose the targets of your power wisely. History is watching you.”