New York Times reporter, Donald McNeil Jr., accused of racism

At least six students or their parents said that McNeil used racially insensitive or outright racist language on a trip

The New York Times top COVID reporter, Donald McNeil Jr. joined a group of students on a trip to Peru in 2019, and it has come to light that several participants accused the award-winning journalist of making made wildly offensive and racist comments during the trip.

The Times has selected some of its top reporters to serve as subject guides for high-school students on trips to various locations around the world every summer for the past few years, according to the Daily Beast.

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One of the experts chosen was McNeil, a high-profile health and science reporter who joined the paper in 1976. In 2019, he accompanied a student group on a “Student Journey” to Peru that focused on community-based health care in the region.

When the trip concluded, multiple students complained about McNeil’s behavior to their parents, informing them that McNeil repeatedly made racist and sexist remarks throughout the trip including, according to two complaints, using the “n-word.”

About 26 students participated in the trip to Peru. Of that group, at least six students or their parents told the Vermont-based tour company, Putney Student Travel, which partnered with the Times, that McNeil used racially insensitive or outright racist language while accompanying the participants on the trip.

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Two students specifically alleged that in addition to using the “n-word,” the science reporter suggested he did not believe in the concept of white privilege. Three other participants alleged that McNeil used stereotypes about Black teenagers, per the Daily Beast.

Although the Times claims to have disciplined McNeil, the students and their parents have called for him to be fired.

“He wasn’t respectful during some of the traditional ceremonies we attended with indigenous healers/shamans,” one of the students said in a written complaint.

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“He made students in the program feel uncomfortable with his remarks. I was really disappointed after hearing great things about his work,” another student wrote.

A spokesman for the Times told the Daily Beast on Thursday, “We subsequently became aware of complaints by some of the students on the trip concerning certain statements Donald had made during the trip. We found he had used bad judgment by repeating a racist slur in the context of a conversation about racist language. In addition, we apologized to the students who had participated in the trip.”

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