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The New York Times and one of its veteran reporters are being accused of sympathizing with a known white supremacist.
The criticisms come after Richard Fausset’s profile on Tony Hovater was published in the Saturday edition of The Times. Hovater is a known white supremacist with many controversial views. In the profile, Fausset intricately speaks of Hovater’s lifestyle, even making mention of his favorite foods and TV show.
Here’s what you need to know about Fausset and the article:
1. Fausset’s Profile Mentioned That Hovater is a Fan of Seinfeld
Fauset’s profile was on Tony Hovater, a 29-year-old who works as a welder in a suburb of Dayton, Ohio. Fausset’s article, titled “A Voice of Hate in America’s Heartland,” tells Hovater’s rise to prominence in the alt-right movement.
“He is the Nazi sympathizer next door, polite and low-key at a time the old boundaries of accepted political activity can seem alarmingly in flux,” Fausset wrote in the article. “Most Americans would be disgusted and baffled by his casually approving remarks about Hitler, disdain for democracy and belief that the races are better off separate.”
Fausset writes about Hovater’s personal interests, saying he’s a “big Seinfeld fan” and telling how he’s planning to get married. Hovater and his fiancee were nervous Antifa would be there to disrupt the ceremony, Fausset writes.
Hovater helped start the Traditionalist Worker Party, an extreme right-wing group which has a stated mission of fighting “for the interested of White Americans.” The hate group was one of those which marched in Charlottesville, Virginia in August and has been spotted at a “White Lives Matter” march in Tennessee in October.
“We made history. Hail victory,” Hovater wrote after the Charlottesville rally, which ended with the death of one counter protester.
2. Fausset Wrote an Op-Ed on Meeting & Interviewing Hovater After the Article’s Publication
After the profile was published Fausset has been accused of promoting Hovater’s lifestyle and giving his hateful beliefs a platform. He wrote in an op-ed about meeting Hovater in a Panera Bread restaurant in Ohio, where they “ate turkey sandwiches.”
Fausset said his goal with the Hovater profile was to find an answer why he gravitated to “the furthest extremes of American political disclosure.” He noted that when he submitted the first draft of his story, his editor told him that the answer to the question hadn’t quite been addressed. Therefore, he went back to Hovater to try and make it more clear. They spoke on the phone again, he said, and he found out additional details to his life.
“Sometimes all we can bring you is the words of the police spokesman, the suspect’s picture from a high school yearbook, the acrid stench of the burned woods,” Fausset wrote. “Sometimes a soul, and its shape, remain obscure to both writer and reader.”
3. Many Have Criticized the Article for Giving a White Supremacist a Platform
Some readers of Fausset’s profile didn’t think it was critical enough of Hovater and his views on race, The Huffington Post reported.
Bess Kalb, who writes for Jimmy Kimmel Live especially took offense to the article and Fausset portraying that Hovater is a polite person.
Because of the criticisms of the article, The Times issued a statement Sunday to the AM JOY with Joy Reid show on MSNBC. In it, The Times National Editor Marc Lacey says that he understands “the outrage,” but the piece has been misunderstood.
4. Fausset Covered the Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey
Fausset’s LinkedIn account says that he’s the national correspondent for The Times. Prior to coming to the newspaper in May 2014, he worked as a foreign correspondent for The Los Angeles Times, his LinkedIn said.
Fausset graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1992, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English and literature/letters. In 1997, Fausset earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. His biography on The Times states that he’s based in Atlanta and mainly writes about the South, “focusing on politics, culture, race, poverty and criminal justice.”
At The Times, Fausset covered the church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, in which Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people, injuring one other. Fausset also covered the buildup to the 2016 presidential election.
When Houston, Texas was dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in early September, Fausset covered it extensively for the newspaper.
5. Fausset Worked in Mexico City for the Los Angeles Times
When Fausset’s move to The Times was announced May 12, his new co-workers spoke very highly of him. A memo sent to employees at The Times spoke of Fausset’s upbringing, saying he grew up in New Orleans and edited a bi-weekly publication in Athens, Georgia.
“If the National Desk wanted to dream up the perfect person to fill the Atlanta Bureau it might come up with someone who grew up in New Orleans, edited an alternative weekly in Athens, Ga. and had already covered the South for six years,” Alison Mitchell, Ethan Bronner and Peter Applebome wrote in a joint statement to employees at The Times. “That journalist would have boundless energy, a sophisticated take on the region and might have written about everything from politics to immigration to a fraternity of proud nerds at the University of Mississippi known as the Awesome Dudes of Alpha Delta.”
Fausset worked in Mexico City for the L.A. Times. Prior to that, he worked as the paper’s Atlanta Bureau Chief (2006-2012).
Read the full statement below:
If the National Desk wanted to dream up the perfect person to fill the Atlanta Bureau it might come up with someone who grew up in New Orleans, edited an alternative weekly in Athens, Ga. and had already covered the South for six years. That journalist would have boundless energy, a sophisticated take on the region and might have written about everything from politics to immigration to a fraternity of proud nerds at the University of Mississippi known as the Awesome Dudes of Alpha Delta.
Luckily, such a person actually exists and will be starting in the Atlanta Bureau this month. Richard Fausset comes to us from the Mexico City Bureau of the Los Angeles Times, where he has been since a glorious stint as that paper’s Atlanta Bureau Chief from 2006-2012. He’ll be in New York this week, getting a sense of how we operate. Then he’ll be sharing the Southern coverage with Campbell Robertson and Alan Blinder, giving us a really strong team in one of the nation’s most compelling regions. We’re thrilled to have him.
On a sadder note, Dan Frosch, after eight years in Denver as our junior reporter, has left us to cover the Mountain West for the Wall Street Journal. Anyone who wants to say goodbye should write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you know someone in the region who might be interested in that job please contact Alison Mitchell, Jennifer Kingson or Jack Healy. It is a guild position.
Alison, Ethan and Peter