Today’s edition of our premium newsletter, What Now, features an exclusive interview with Evette Dionne—the editor-in-chief of Bitch Media, the author of Lifting as We Climb: Black Women's Battle for the Ballot Box, and a critic and writer on the intersections of race, gender and size. She was also one of my very first editors! On Sunday we talked about the state of journalism and how history will remember this moment. (Follow Evette at @freeblackgirl.)
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Can we get a vibe check as to the state of working in media?
Media is, for me, right now really infuriating. I am following this story — of course, the New York Times is always doing foolishness — but firing this journalist [Lauren Wolfe] because [of] this Gamergate-style harassment campaign over a single tweet, that is infuriating to me. [Ed. note: the Times denies that Wolfe was fired from her freelance editing job for tweeting that she had "chills" watching Joe Biden's plane landing in Washington, saying, "we didn’t end someone’s employment over a single tweet." The paper declined to offer another explanation for its choice, citing privacy concerns.] And I think it represents so much of what is broken in media right now. So whenever I'm consuming media and just being in it, my base level is rage at this point.
How have you felt about the way that the corporate media has treated last summer’s Black Lives Matter resurgence and the white supremacist uprising at the Capitol, and are you already seeing these cracks form after this “old normal” has returned?
I think that one of the biggest failures up top is this idea that Donald Trump and Trumpism is the culmination of something really specific and really unique to this single man, and therefore now that that single man is no longer in power, that we can then pretend as if it never happened and move on to something else. That is impossible. And the fact that our media did this whiplash of, “Okay, there was this violent insurrection at the Capitol, we're going to cover it intensely for four days. And then did you say that Joe Biden has a Peloton bike?” It's like, what are we doing?
We have this idea that “both sides'' are worthy of interrogation, that they both have equal merit and therefore you have to cover them equally. And that is simply not the case. When we are at a moment like in the summer, where you have people across the world at this point rising up together to say, “We need to end police violence against Black and brown people,” that is not the time in which to publish an op-ed with a senator saying that he wants to institute martial law in this country. That is the time to reject that and say, “What side of history do we want to be on?”
Objectivity is a false thing, and they pretend as if it's a real thing, and then it just dictates all of our media coverage thereafter.