On Saturday, the New York Times published an article highlighting the day-to-day life of Nazi Sympathizer Tony Hovater, a 29-year-old welder from Ohio, and delved into his psyche to reveal that he just wants his hateful ideology to be more mainstream.
And by the reaction to the profile on Twitter, the Times just seemingly granted Hovater's wish, almost portraying him as some sort of victim due to his beliefs. The article describes him as "the Nazi sympathizer next door, polite and low-key at a time the old boundaries of accepted political activity can seem alarmingly in flux."
Part of the article has to do with Hovater and his now-wife's wedding earlier this fall, which they feared might be ruined by "Antifa bashing up the ceremony." Especially since Hovater was one of the founders of the Traditionalist Worker Party, a far-right group that protested in Charlottesville, and again at a "White Lives Matter" rally in Tennessee in October.
For some reason, the article even included a link to the group's website, where a Nazi armband could be purchased for $20. It was later removed:
The article, which features photos of Hovater outside his house, driving around in his car, and grocery shopping, definitely felt to some like "normalization:"
And it wouldn't be the first time that the Times wrote a "normalizing" profile of a Nazi either:
The profile led to calls of more inclusivity in newsrooms:
People were unsettled by Hovater's comments about Jewish people (even though he listed himself as an avid Seinfeld fan):
The backlash was enough that the Times made several edits, including changing the title:
And while some felt like the writer of the profile should've shelved the piece:
Others felt like it's up to the reader to know right from wrong:
Perhaps it's part of a larger issue with media in general:
A few others poked fun at the article, including a parody by The Atlantic titled "Nazis Are Just Like You and Me, Except They're Nazis:"
Marc Lacey, the National Editor for the Times later issued a statement addressing the criticism, saying in part:
"White supremacy is a major area of coverage of our national correspondents at The Times, which is a sad commentary on the state of our country. I get the criticism of this article. I get the outrage. My outrage is directed at the fact that bigotry is going mainstream, which is what this piece was trying to describe."
But for many, it wasn't enough to redeem the article:
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