Slate Suspends Podcast Host After Debate Over Racial Slur

The web 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 be capable 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 have been discussing the resignation of Donald G. McNeil Jr., a reporter who mentioned this month that he was resigning from The New York Instances after he had used the slur throughout a dialogue of racism whereas working as a information on a pupil journey in 2019.

Mr. Pesca, who’s white, mentioned he felt there have been contexts wherein the slur may very well be used, in line with display pictures of the Slack dialog that have been shared with The Instances. Slate’s chief govt, Dan Examine, 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 can be beneath investigation,” Ms. Rayford mentioned, “I can verify 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 inner 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 few 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 along with his producers and his supervisor, who objected to his citation of the slur, he rerecorded the episode with out it, he mentioned.

“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 mentioned within the interview.

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

Mr. Pesca mentioned Mr. Examine, the chief govt, and Jared Hohlt, Slate’s editor in chief, had introduced up the earlier occasion of his quoting the slur once 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 instances appeared to embody Slate’s contrarian model, mentioned he was instructed 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 just 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 concept of issues which can be past debate and issues that can not be mentioned.”

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 sort of overreaction and a scarcity of judgment and perspective that’s sadly spreading,” Mr. Weisberg mentioned.

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

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