Slate Suspends Podcast Host After Debate Over Racial Slur


The web publication Slate has suspended a widely known podcast host after he debated with colleagues over whether or not people who find themselves not Black ought to be capable of quote a racial slur in some contexts.

Mike Pesca, the host of “The Gist,” a podcast on information and tradition, stated in an interview that he was suspended indefinitely on Monday after defending the usage of the slur in sure contexts. He made his argument throughout a dialog final week with colleagues on the interoffice messaging platform Slack.

In a prolonged thread of messages, Slate workers members have been discussing the resignation of Donald G. McNeil Jr., a reporter who stated this month that he was resigning from The New York Occasions after he had used the slur throughout a dialogue of racism whereas working as a information on a scholar journey in 2019.

Mr. Pesca, who’s white, stated he felt there have been contexts wherein the slur might be used, based on display pictures of the Slack dialog that have been shared with The Occasions. Slate’s chief government, Dan Verify, stepped in to close down the dialogue.

Katie Rayford, Slate’s spokeswoman, confirmed that “The Gist” had been suspended indefinitely, pending an investigation, however wouldn’t touch upon Mr. Pesca. “Whereas I can’t get into particular allegations which might be beneath investigation,” Ms. Rayford stated, “I can affirm this was not a call primarily based round making an remoted summary argument in a Slack channel.”

Defector Media, a digital outlet targeted on sports activities and tradition, earlier reported Mr. Pesca’s suspension and the interior debate at Slate.

In November 2019, Slate launched a coverage that required podcast hosts and producers to debate the usage of racist phrases in a pending episode, in or out of quoted materials, earlier than recording it.

Mr. Pesca explored the argument over the usage of the slur in a 2019 podcast a few Black safety guard who was fired for utilizing it. In an early model of the episode, Mr. Pesca stated, he used the time period whereas quoting the person. After consulting together with his producers and his supervisor, who objected to his citation of the slur, he rerecorded the episode with out it, he stated.

“The model of the story with the offensive phrase by no means aired, and that is how I feel the editorial course of ought to go,” Mr. Pesca stated within the interview.

No motion was taken in opposition to him after a human sources investigation into his citation of the slur, Mr. Pesca stated. He stated he had apologized to the producers concerned.

Mr. Pesca stated Mr. Verify, the chief government, and Jared Hohlt, Slate’s editor in chief, had introduced up the earlier occasion of his quoting the slur after they spoke with him after the Slack dialog. He added that they’d talked about one other occasion of his utilizing the time period that he didn’t recall.

Mr. Pesca, whose interview model at occasions appeared to embody Slate’s contrarian model, stated he was advised on Friday that he could be suspended for per week with out pay. On Monday he was knowledgeable that the suspension was indefinite and that he would both have to simply accept severance or be the topic of an investigation, he stated.

Mr. Pesca, who has labored at Slate for seven years, stated he was “heartsick” over hurting his colleagues however added, “I hate the thought of issues which might be past debate and issues that can not be stated.”

Jacob Weisberg, Slate’s former chairman and editor in chief, who left the corporate for the podcast start-up Pushkin in 2018, referred to as Mr. Pesca “an enormous expertise and a fair-minded journalist.”

“I don’t assume he did something that deserves self-discipline or penalties, and I feel it’s an instance of a form of overreaction and a scarcity of judgment and perspective that’s sadly spreading,” Mr. Weisberg stated.

Joel Anderson, a Black workers member at Slate who hosted the third season of the podcast “Gradual Burn,” disagreed. “For Black staff, it’s an especially small ask to not hear that specific slur and never have debate about whether or not it’s OK for white staff to make use of that specific slur,” he stated.



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