The New York Times lost at least one subscriber after publishing a profile on conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.
A profile titled “Ben Shapiro, a Provocative ‘Gladiator,’ Battles to Win Young Conservatives” received backlash from several who believed the piece was too friendly in tone. This included “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing, who announced on Twitter that she had canceled her subscription.
“The Left: tolerant, fair-minded and open to all points of view. Not,” wrote one columnist on Shapiro’s site, The Daily Wire, in response to Messing.
Others accused the Times of writing a “puff piece on a former Breitbart bottom feeder.”
Shapiro left his editorial position at the controversial site in 2016 following an alleged assault of one of their former writers, Michelle Fields. Fields accused Corey Lewandowski, who worked as President Trump’s campaign manager at the time, of grabbing her by the arm so forcefully that he left bruises. Fields later resigned over Breitbart’s handling of the alleged assault. Shapiro also announced his resignation for a similar reason.
The profile on Shapiro was not the only scandal the Times recently faced. Over the weekend, the paper published a profile on a white nationalist. It too earned criticism from several on the internet for not condemning its subject strongly enough.
Others responded quite differently, arguing that the piece was necessary to show that people following dangerous ideologies could exist anywhere.
Marc Lacey, the Times’ national editor, responded to the outcry using a designated channel connecting the publication to its readers’ feedback:
We regret the degree to which the piece offended so many readers. We recognize that people can disagree on how best to tell a disagreeable story. What we think is indisputable, though, is the need to shed more light, not less, on the most extreme corners of American life and the people who inhabit them. That’s what the story, however imperfectly, tried to do.