A Detroit based journalist, Erin Marquis, has been fired by The New York Times after leaving profane voicemails with a gun rights group, and repeatedly identifying herself as with the NYT in the course of these messages.
In a statement, a spokesperson for The New York Times said, “The employee [Erin Marquis] has been terminated from Wirecutter following our investigation related to inappropriate behavior.”
The statement continued, “We expect our employees to behave in a way that is consistent with our values and commitment to the highest ethical standards. Repeatedly invoking The New York Times’s name in an unprofessional way that imperils the reputation of Wirecutter, The Times, and all of our journalists is a clear violation of our policies.”
Erin Marquis built her reputation as the managing editor for years of Jalopnik, a Detroit-based news site focused on the automotive industry. In July of this year, she moved to Wirecutter. Also based in Detroit, Wirecutter is a product review site owned by the NYT.
The issue of gun rights is not part of Marquis’ beat as a journalist. But the Oxford High School shooting, in Oxford, Mich. on Nov. 30 enraged Erin Marquis (as it enraged many people in all lines of work).
Erin Marquis was further enraged, it appears, when she received an email from a gun rights group, Great Lakes Gun Rights, the Michigan affiliate of the National Association for Gun Rights. The GLGR issued a statement on Dec. 1 telling gun owners to “stay vigilant” and warning that “anti-gun politicians and their allies in the media” were already trying to politicize the latest tragedy. The GLGR assured its supporters that it would “be watching closely” if those politicians attempt “more gun control.”
Erin Marquis tweeted in response to this: “Just got a news release from the Great Lakes Gun Rights organization about protecting gun rights from democrats in Michigan and I am literally shaking with rage,” she wrote. “I hope there is a God and they meet that God someday.”
That tweet was not the “inappropriate behavior” that got her fired. What followed, though, crossed a line.
Erin Marquis was ousted because she called the gun rights group and left profane messages, in which she repeatedly identified her as being with The New York Times.
“Hi, I’m a journalist with The New York Times,” she says in one of them. “I’m just calling to wonder — I have two questions. How do you sleep at night? And aren’t you just, like, a little bit worried that there might be a hell, and when you meet God he will send you there?… The only people politicizing this seems to be you, because you’re the only people I got a f*cking press release from. Again, I am from The New York Times, and I am letting everyone in The New York Times know what kind of f*cking a**holes you are. Congrats on being a laughingstock.”
The parent group of the GLGR, the NAGR, posted that on YouTube. The voicemail helped solidify GLGR’s own political message, which is that the mainstream media is out to help leftist politicians grab guns away from legitimate owners.
The NAGR captioned that video in a way that draws that connection quite explicitly, “The wonderful people at the New York Times are VERY ANGRY that we aren’t trying to take your guns away or make you a criminal. Erin Marquis left us a wonderful voicemail that we’d like to share with you.”
The comments left by YouTube viewers leave no doubt but that Second Amendment advocates are taking Marquis’ tirade as evidence in support of their own worldview.
At least one of those comments comes close itself to the incitement of violence. A commenter calling himself Richard Garrison says, “She sounds willing to advance the date on which someone does sluff off the mortal burdens of life and face the Grim Reaper….[J]ust asking, not advocating.”