Slate Suspends Podcast Host After Debate Over Racial Slur
The online publication Slate has suspended a well-known podcast host, as he debated with colleagues over whether people who are not Black should be able to cite a racial slur in some contexts.
Mike Pesca, host of “The Dist”, a podcast on news and culture, said in an interview that he was suspended indefinitely on Monday after defending the use of abuses in certain contexts. He made his argument last week during a conversation with colleagues of interoffice messaging platform Slack.
In a long thread of messages, Slate staff members were discussing the resignation Donald G. McNeil Jr., A reporter who said this month that he was resigning from The New York Times after using slur during a discussion of racism while working as a guide on student travel in 2019.
According to screen shots of a Slack conversation shared with The Times, Mr. Pesca, who is white, said he thinks slats could be used. Slate chief executive Dan Chek stepped in to close the discussion.
Slate spokesman Katie Rayford confirmed that “The Gist” had been suspended indefinitely, pending an investigation, but would not comment on Mr. Pesca. “When I come under scrutiny, I cannot fall into those allegations,” said Ms. Rayford, who can confirm that it was not a decision.
In November 2019, Slate introduced a policy in which podcast hosts and producers were to discuss the use of racist words in a pending episode or in excerpted content before recording.
Mr. Pesca explores an argument in the 2019 podcast about the use of the slur to a black security guard who was fired for using. In an early version of the episode, Mr. Pesca said, he used the term to quote the man. After consulting with his producers and his supervisor, who objected to his quote from Slur, he rearranged the episode without it, he said.
In the interview, Mr. Pesca stated, “The version of the offensively worded story never aired and I think the editorial process should move forward.”
Mr. Pesca said that no action was taken against him after an investigation into human resources. He said that he had apologized to the producers involved.
Mr. Pesca stated that Mr. Chack, Chief Executive Officer, and Slate’s Chief Editor, Jared Holst, offered a previous example of quoting Slur when speaking with him after the Slack conversation. He said that he had mentioned another example of using the term which he did not remember.
Mr Peska, whose interview style embodied Slate’s conflicting brand at times, said he was told on Friday that he would be suspended for a week without pay. On Monday, he was informed that the suspension is indefinite and he must either accept the severance or be the subject of an investigation, he said.
Mr. Pesca, who has worked on Slate for seven years, said he was “heartbroken” to hurt his teammates, but added, “I hate the idea of things that are beyond debate and things that Can’t be said. “
Jacob Weisberg, Former Slate president and editor-in-chief, who left the company for podcast start-up Pushkin in 2018, calling Mr. Pesca “a journalist with a huge talent and an unbiased mind”.
“I don’t think they did anything that is a virtue of discipline or consequence, and I think it’s a kind of overreaction and lack of judgment and perspective that is unfortunately spreading,” Mr. Weisberg said.
Joel Anderson, a Black staff member of Slate who hosted the third season of the podcast “Slow Burn”, disagreed. “For black employees, it’s a very small question to not listen to that particular abuse and not argue about whether it’s okay for white employees to use that particular slayer,” he said.