This week, New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz put out this tweet: “For international women’s day please consider supporting women enduring online harassment. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the harassment and smear campaign I’ve had to endure over the past year has destroyed my life. No one should have to go through this.”
She followed up with several more tweets about the same topic.
That set off a couple of Fox News personalities. Glenn Greenwald retweeted Lorenz and said, “Taylor Lorenz is a star reporter with the most influential newspaper in the US, arguably the west. Her work regularly appears on its front page. Her attempt to claim this level of victimhood is revolting: she should try to find out what real persecution of journalists entails.”
He followed up with several more tweets, including, “If you’re going to insinuate yourself into polarizing political debates and report (or pretend to ‘report’) on the powerful, you’ll be ‘attacked’ online. It can be extra toxic due to race, gender, sexual orientation, etc but it’s still just online insults. That’s not persecution.”
Lorenz responded to Greenwald by tweeting, “‘She should try to find out what real persecution of journalists entails’ is exactly the type of threatening dog whistle commentary that contributes to harassment campaigns. It’s not ok. Female journalists, stars or not, should not have to endure harassment for doing their job.”
Lorenz is exactly right. But, of course, right doesn’t matter to some who thought this would be good fodder for lazy TV commentary.
On his show Tuesday night, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson said Lorenz was “at the very top of journalism’s repulsive little food chain.” He mocked Lorenz and said she has a great life — one of the best in the country. That’s just a taste of what was said by Carlson, who clearly knew his commentary would rile up his viewers and that many of those viewers would go after Lorenz online.
Steve Peoples, chief political reporter for The Associated Press, tweeted about Carlson: “This is dangerous and disgusting. Someone asks for help after suffering online harassment, and this man mocks her in prime time — using her full name five separate times — in an obvious attempt to encourage more harassment. We are better than this.”
Actually, I’m pretty sure Carlson is not better than that.
Criticizing someone’s work is fair game. But Jezebel’s Rich Juzwiak points out that the online harassment of Lorenz has gone well beyond criticizing her: “Lorenz has claimed that people have attempted to hack into her accounts to change her passwords, sent her ‘vicious disgusting threats,’ trolled her on Clubhouse by changing their profile pics to those of her public antagonists, and set up Twitter accounts to impersonate her.”
Juzwiak added, “Carlson’s decision to pick on this young reporter and parade her as an example of what’s wrong with progressives and/or women today is ghoulish.”
The New York Times put out this statement on Wednesday: “In a now familiar move, Tucker Carlson opened his show last night by attacking a journalist. It was a calculated and cruel attack, which he regularly deploys to unleash a wave of harassment and vitriol at his intended target. Taylor Lorenz is a talented New York Times journalist doing timely and essential reporting. Journalists should be able to do their jobs without facing harassment.”
In a statement, Fox News said, “No public figure or journalist is immune to legitimate criticism of their reporting, claims or journalistic tactics.”
Carlson dedicated another segment to Lorenz on Wednesday night. He essentially doubled down on his comments, severely downplayed the harassment Lorenz has received and continued to mock Lorenz and the Times. He then had on a guest — The Federalist’s Sean Davis — to trash Lorenz’s work. In other words, Carlson did everything you would expect Carlson to do and it was repugnant.
This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.