Ebony magazine, a routine booster of President Obama, issued an apology Friday for a staffer who tweeted an insult at RNC deputy press secretary Raffi Williams – the son of Fox News analyst Juan Williams – as a “white dude.”
Ebony.com senior editor Jamilah Lemieux began by mocking the idea of a new digital magazine for black conservatives that Dr. Ben Carson was starting with The Washington Times. For example, "Ben Carson sounds completely insane to me," she argued.
Williams tweeted that he "hoped you would encourage diversity of thought." Lemieux shot back, "Oh great, here comes a White dude telling me how to do this Black thing. Pass," and "YOU. Now, leave, I have no interest in this conversation."
When told that Williams was actually black, Lemieux tweeted an apology for not looking more closely at Williams's photo, but wrote she cared "about NOTHING you have to say."
@Raffiwilliams I was looking at your avi without blowing it up. I apologize for that. However, I care about NOTHING you have to say.— Jamilah Lemieux (@JamilahLemieux) March 27, 2014
I forgot that tweeting something about a Conservative is like leaving a cookie out in a house full of roaches and turning off the lights.— Jamilah Lemieux (@JamilahLemieux) March 27, 2014
RNC chairman Reince Priebus wasn’t going to let such nastiness go unanswered. So he shipped off a letter to Ebony, which included:
Attacking someone for his or her race, heritage or political views is the very thing Ebony has worked to discourage, and actions like those of Ms. Lemieux are far below the basic standards of journalism. She did not even attempt to show journalistic objectivity. And I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it’s unacceptable to refer to those who disagree with you as “roaches.”
Raffi deserves an apology from Ms. Lemieux and from Ebony – not just for making assumptions about his race but more importantly for dismissing black Republicans and the validity of their opinions in public discourse.
In their Twitter exchange, Ms. Lemieux said she had “no interest” in a conversation about encouraging diversity of thought. I’m hopeful, however, that she does not speak for the entire magazine and that we can use this unfortunate episode as a catalyst for greater engagement and understanding between the Republican Party and the black community.
Ebony responded with appropriate shame: “EBONY acknowledges Senior Editor Jamilah Lemieux’s lack of judgment on her personal Twitter account and apologizes to Raffi Williams and the Black Republican community.”
Washington Post media blogger Erik Wemple added his two cents: "The Erik Wemple Blog would amplify the list of offenses from merely “lack of judgment” to downright unpleasantness, closedmindedness and a trigger finger for racial affront."