Politico Surrenders To Woke Tantrum By Millennial Staffers, Now Has 'Banned Words' List
Progressive millennials within Politico threw a giant temper tantrum, and got their way.
As Amber Athey, author of The Snowflakes' Revolt writes in The Spectator, what began as a meltdown over conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, who guest-authored the outlet's flagsahip newsletter in December of 2020, has turned into a complete 'lord of the flies' organization with petulant children 'taking ideas from college campuses into the newsroom and pushing the editorial line further to the left than ever before,' as Athey describes it.
A few months after the Shapiro meltdown, a March 2021 article by political reporter Gabby Orr about how Republicans have positioned themselves as defenders of women's sports against transgender athletes was the next shoe to drop. The internal revolt which followed 'marked a sea change in how the publication reported the news."
Orr was then dragged into a meeting with offended colleagues;
As a source briefed on the situation explained to me, Orr was informed by Politico’s director of editorial diversity initiatives Robin Turner that two colleagues had voiced concerns about her story. Turner wanted to arrange a meeting to discuss them. During the meeting, Orr was asked about her employment history at the Washington Examiner, a center-right outlet, and asked why the story omitted any transgender voices — though it had extensively quoted Kate Oakley, senior counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, an activist organization dedicated to LGBTQ+ issues.
Orr’s colleagues also complained that she quoted conservatives, such as American Principles Project director Terry Schilling and former White House policy adviser Stephen Miller, without “contextualizing” their comments. Schilling had pessimistically praised left-wing activists for their ability to convince the American public that transgender people were facing a wave of violence even though when “you look at the numbers… it’s, like, forty people.” Orr, her colleagues argued, should have explicitly told readers that those remarks were offensive and transphobic. -The Spectator
One meeting attendee was offended by the phrase "biological women," which appeared a grand total of three times in the piece, and was deemed 'offensive to transgender readers.'
Following the meeting, Robin Turner, the outlet's director of editorial diversity, suggested that the offended colleagues be crowned "sensitivity readers," to ensure that Orr wouldn't cause further offense to sensitive readers.
Six months earlier, Orr had written a 5,000-word Politico cover story on the same subject - trans athletes - which drew zero internal complaints. According to Athey, however, it was a 'bad-blooded Zoom meeting about Shapiro guest-editing Playbook' which emboldened progressive staff to start pushing back against articles that didn't pass their woke purity tests.
Things get worse
On July 2, 2021, Politico brought in three transgender individuals they thought would help the newsroom learn to report on transgender issues in a "more comprehensive and inclusive way." In another Zoom meeting, they lectured reporters about the 'inherent transphobia' in their reporting.
In an email Athey obtained from Politico editors summarizing the "highlights" from their inclusivity sermons, reporters were told that a "neutral" position on transgender issues likely came from "white, cisgender men," and therefore should be assumed to be inaccurate. What's more, gendered words can be rooted in "exclusion," and can cause "trauma" for transgender and gender-neutral individuals.
According to one former Politico reporter, the panelists complained that the word "mother" could potentially be offensive when used by reporters. The trans activists also mocked reporters struggling with the grammatical implications of referring to people by plural pronouns, such as "they/them."
"So many non-trans journalists get caught up in the ‘meaning’ of certain words that they don’t realize the many ways that a certain word can mean different things to different people, and the ways in which various languages carry trauma and carry triggering motivations for folks and how our feelings about the meaning of certain words are rooted in exclusion," said Tre’vell Anderson, then editor-at-large at Xtra.
The panelists warned journalists that they cannot simply cover “both sides” of the transgender issue, because they might be elevating transphobic voices. “The job of journalists historically always has been to speak truth to power and it’s a violation of journalistic ethics to entertain any conversation that paints transphobia as legitimate,” Sosin said.
What do these folks consider to be anti-trans or transphobic? Sosin has said that the phrase “biological male” is an “anti-trans slur” and that it’s transphobic for women not to want to share a bathroom with a man. Howe complained on Twitter that they were called “sir” on the phone by a FedEx employee. Anderson has described bills banning biological males from women’s sports as “anti-trans” legislation. Factual language, honest mistakes and reasonable concerns about deep-rooted biological differences will not be tolerated by the trans lobby. -The Spectator
According to one source, the gender discussion was a gateway triggering, causing colleagues to argue over terms such as "birthing person" vs "birthing moms," due to potential offense.
The woke mob then tried to unionize, according to one former staffer, which "was merely an extension of the woke crowd showing their true colors after the Shapiro firestorm." The Daily Beast even called them out, questioning whether they were the "woke police," following concerns expressed over the effort.
Several weeks after the transgender sermon, Politico appointed a new standards editor to oversee editorial content - former White House correspondent Anita Kumar. Under her, a new 2022 style guide was implemented which includes a list of 'noninclusive' words deemed verboten. Via The Spectator:
- Crack the whip: unacceptable because of origins in slavery
- Waiter or waitress: server should be used instead
- Biological gender, biological sex, biological woman, biological female, biological man, or biological male
- Illegal immigrant or illegal alien
- Cake walk: “originated during slavery” and thus perpetuates “racist motifs”
- In reference to illegal migration: onslaught, tidal wave, flood, inundation, surge, invasion, army, march, sneak and stealth
- Anchor baby
- Chain migration: this is a term used by “immigration hard-liners”
- Peanut gallery: “the cheapest seats often occupied by Black people and people with low incomes”
- Third-world countries: too “derogatory”
The guide also warns reporters not to say a transgender individual 'identifies' as a certain gender, or to describe the border crisis as a 'crisis' because "while the sharp increase in the arrival of unaccompanied minors is a problem for border officials, a political challenge for the Biden administration and a dire situation for many migrants who make the journey, it does not fit the dictionary definition of a crisis."
"Generally, avoid references to a transgender person being born a boy or girl, and opt for phrasing such as ‘identified at birth as boy/girl,’" the guide cautions. "A person’s biology does not take precedence over their gender identity, and such oversimplifications can invalidate the person’s current, authentic gender."
Reporters should also consider "using gender-neutral language like ‘pregnant people’ or ‘people using birth control’… as there are non-female identifying people who are able to become pregnant, require reproductive healthcare, etc."
Oh, and "Unlike Black, white should not be capitalized in any instances."
As Athey notes towards the end, "Thanks to the constant complaints by woke staffers, transgender coverage at Politico now reads like pure propaganda rather than well-informed and reasoned reportage."