NYT Reporter Stupidly Stirs the Pot

NYT’s national correspondent John Schwartz has apologized for a bizarre joke he tweeted about the son of Newsbusters Associate Editor Noel Sheppard.

Sheppard wrote on Twitter last night that, “My son wants me not to cry at his wedding Saturday. I’ll be crying more than bride’s father…but for different reasons.”

To which Schwartz replied: “because you’ve been renting him out to workhouses all these years and you’re sorry to be losing the income?”

We’re not even sure what that’s supposed to mean.

Soon Schwartz deleted his tweet. And this morning, after Newsbusters slapped up a 1 a.m. story by Matthew Sheffield, Schwartz posted an apology.

But that wasn’t enough too soothe his conscience. He tried again on Twitter, saying, “I am a goofball, but not intentionally mean,” and “meanwhile, please pass along my apologies to @NoelSheppard; if you’ll send me his email address, I’ll do it directly.” That followed a comment in the thread on the Newsbuster’s story—which a tipster alerted us to—in which Schwartz again apologized and offered his congrats on the upcoming wedding.

Sheffield called Schwartz’s joke “tasteless” and spent a lot of time in his post theorizing possible motivations. He even tenuously tied the tweet to a Newsbuster’s post that criticized NYT for listing its own reporters’ work on its annual list of notable books. Schwartz’s Oddly Normal: One Family’s Struggle to Help Their Teenage Some Come to Terms With His Sexuality, was among them. This strikes us overreaching, especially when Sheffield reveals a little anti-gay bias in the process: “The subject matter of Schwartz’s (book) might explain why he would make such a cruel attempt at humor tonight.” Huh?

Still, there’s no real disputing that Schwartz’ tweet is out of left field. And honestly, shouldn’t a national reporter at the NYT know better than to offer an organization whose mantra is “exposing and combating liberal media bias” such ammunition? He might as well have just sat himself and the paper on a silver platter and handed it over.

However sorry Schwartz is, you can hardly blame Newsbusters for running with this the way they did.

UPDATE: Sheppard posted a note on Newsbuster’s story late Friday: “John and I have exchanged email messages. He has sincerely apologized not just by email but also on Twitter. We’ve moved to the let’s laugh about this and be friends phase. I completely accept his apology and wish everyone else would as well.” If it was no big deal, why the story about it in the first place?