A storm erupted Wednesday in the American media community over the firing of a journalist who jokingly tweeted that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump might be sleeping with his daughter, Ivanka.
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Julia Ioffe was dismissed Wednesday from her job as a contributor to the Politico website for her response to a report that Ivanka Trump was going to be given an office at the White House in the area generally reserved for the First Lady. A Trump spokesman denied the report.
“Either Trump is f---ing his daughter or he’s shirking nepotism laws. Which is worse?” Ioffe tweeted.
Thousands of people retweeted her comment, and within a few hours the executives at Politico announced that Ioffe was being fired. In a letter to Politico employees, the website’s editor, Carrie Budoff Brown, wrote, “You will remember the note from John [publisher and editor in chief John Harris] and me a few days ago in which we emphasized that Politico journalists are representing the publication at all times and on all platforms, and must present themselves accordingly Julia Ioffe’s tweet this afternoon about President-elect Trump is a clear example of the opposite of what we were talking about.” The announcement said that they were canceling Ioffe’s contract with Politico.
Later in the evening, Ioffe, who came to the United States from Russia as a child, apologized for the tweet, but added, “In Russia, the Kremlin rarely has to make the call to media organizations. The media bosses anticipate and do the censoring themselves.”
The decision by Politico to fire Ioffe generated angry responses from other U.S. journalists, who said the news site was pandering to the incoming administration.
Among the journalists who defended Ioffe was Kirsten Powers of CNN, who wrote, “People need to lay off @juliaioffe. She apologized, but of course Twitter wants her burned at the stake. She’s a great journo. Period.” The foreign editor of Buzzfeed, Miriam Elder, wrote, “I would say, go follow @juliaioffe, but you probably already do. We’re all lucky to have her around in these crazy times.”
Christopher Hayes, a presenter on MSNBC, wrote, “Just now seeing the @juliaioffe news. Are you telling me that after the last 18 months we’re going to get the vapors because of a single tweet!?!” He later added, “But honestly, it almost feels like the *only* person in America who will never lose his job over an offensive tweet is Donald Trump.” And Matthew Yglesias, the founder of Vox, added, “If @politico wants to curry favor then fair enough. Why pretend ‘gratuitous opinion’ is the issue?”
Ioffe made news in April when she suffered a barrage of anti-Semitic attacks by Trump supporters after publishing a profile of Melania Trump in GQ magazine that Melania criticized because it revealed family secrets about her parents. Trump supporters began to threaten Ioffe by phone and posted pictures of the Jewish journalist in an Auschwitz prison uniform. Other Jewish journalists at the time said they also suffered anti-Semitic remarks if they dared to criticize Trump.
Several weeks ago Ioffe announced that she was joining the staff of the prestigious publication The Atlantic, but Trump supporters have begun demanding that The Atlantic fire her, too. In a press statement, The Atlantic said that Ioffe made a mistake, “which she regrets and for which she publicly apologized,” but was confident she would adhere to the magazine’s standards.
In July, CNN reported that the Trump campaign had a blacklist of journalists and media outlets that had published negative reports about Trump and were not being allowed to cover his press conferences or campaign events. At various times, the Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Huffington post and Politico all claimed that they were on the blacklist.