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Slate Suspends Podcast Host After Debate Over Racial Slur

The on-line publication Slate has suspended a well known podcast host after he debated with colleagues over whether or not people who find themselves not Black ought to have the ability to quote a racial slur in some contexts.

Mike Pesca, the host of “The Gist,” a podcast on information and tradition, mentioned in an interview that he was suspended indefinitely on Monday after defending using 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 employees members had been discussing the resignation of Donald G. McNeil Jr., a reporter who mentioned this month that he was resigning from The New York Times 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, mentioned he felt there have been contexts wherein the slur could possibly be used, in keeping with display screen photographs of the Slack dialog that had been shared with The Times. Slate’s chief govt, Dan Check, 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. “While I can’t get into specific allegations that are under investigation,” Ms. Rayford mentioned, “I can confirm this was not a decision based around making an isolated abstract argument in a Slack channel.”

Defector Media, a digital outlet centered 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 using racist phrases in a pending episode, in or out of quoted materials, earlier than recording it.

Mr. Pesca explored the argument over using the slur in a 2019 podcast a couple of Black safety guard who was fired for utilizing it. In an early model of the episode, Mr. Pesca mentioned, 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 mentioned.

“The version of the story with the offensive word never aired, and this is how I think the editorial process should go,” Mr. Pesca mentioned within the interview.

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

Mr. Pesca mentioned Mr. Check, the chief govt, 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 that they had talked about one other occasion of his utilizing the time period that he didn’t recall.

Mr. Pesca, whose interview model at instances appeared to embody Slate’s contrarian model, mentioned he was informed on Friday that he can 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 mentioned.

Mr. Pesca, who has labored at Slate for seven years, mentioned he was “heartsick” over hurting his colleagues however added, “I hate the idea of things that are beyond debate and things that cannot be said.”

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

“I don’t think he did anything that merits discipline or consequences, and I think it’s an example of a kind of overreaction and a lack of judgment and perspective that is unfortunately spreading,” Mr. Weisberg mentioned.

Joel Anderson, a Black employees member at Slate who hosted the third season of the podcast “Slow Burn,” disagreed. “For Black employees, it’s an extremely small ask to not hear that particular slur and not have debate about whether it’s OK for white employees to use that particular slur,” he mentioned.



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