NYT Public Editor on Shonda Rhimes Piece: 'Astonishingly Tone-Deaf'

Illustration for article titled emNYT/em Public Editor on Shonda Rhimes Piece: Astonishingly Tone-Deaf

Those who were displeased with Alessandra Stanley's piece about Shonda Rhimes will be pleased to note that New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan has weighed in on the article. It appears that she agrees with its many, many critics.

In a post published this morning, Sullivan included an email she received from a Times reader who wrote that the piece was "racist, ignorant, and arrogant." In her brief commentary (which she says she will update further as the day goes on), Sullivan didn't necessarily disagree:

This is a preliminary post, and I'll be adding to it later today, or posting again. But I'll say this much: The readers and commentators are correct to protest this story. Intended to be in praise of Ms. Rhimes, it delivered that message in a condescending way that was – at best – astonishingly tone-deaf and out of touch.


Sullivan said she has asked Stanley – as well as her editors, including Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet – for more information about the intent of the piece and the editing process it went through. "There are some big questions here – about diversity, about editing procedures and about how The Times deals with stories about women and race," she wrote. "They are worth exploring in depth."

Image via Frederick M. Brown/Getty

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Kate Dries

This piece by Linda Holmes of NPR – who interviewed Rhimes right after the Times article blew up – is an excellent read. Holmes includes some of Rhimes' thoughts on the matter, but she also explores how she struggled with figuring out a balance between asking Rhimes to talk about diversity issues while also wanting to treat her just like any other showrunner.