Statement Regarding Dismissal of Ross Steinberg
We are committed to thoughtful, independent journalism, and we stand by the right of Mr. Steinberg to be heard.
When Mr. Steinberg brought this article idea to our attention, he included with it a threat that, if we were to decline to publish his article, he would publish at an outlet that would permit him to disclose the names of the individuals involved with the page.
Mr. Steinberg made this demand with full knowledge that a number of individuals on our staff were involved with the meme page and, like most of the 300+ members of the page, to a minimal extent, if at all.
Though we had no plan to reject his article on this basis, his demand, in light of the circumstances, struck the board as unprofessional and extortionate.
Following publication, in a comment on a public Facebook post, Mr. Steinberg disclosed the contents of private deliberations of the Independent’s editorial board without the consent of his fellow board members.
The actions described above provoked substantial resentment within the board and the Independent’s staff. When our editor-in-chief urged Mr. Steinberg to take some time away from meetings in order to facilitate the resolution of this internal conflict, stressing that this did not amount to removal or suspension of Mr. Steinberg’s position as managing editor, Mr. Steinberg agreed, but added that, if removed, he would “make a story out of it,” thereby issuing another extortionate demand to the board.
To be clear: Mr. Steinberg’s removal is related not to the content of his article, but to his disclosure of private board deliberations and his inappropriate demands of our board.
While we stand behind Mr. Steinberg’s right to express his opinions within our publication in his capacity as managing editor, we take umbrage with his carelessness and his calculated manipulation of our board.
Because it is clear that Mr. Steinberg does not have the best interests of this publication at heart, we promoted our opinion editor to his position and removed him from our staff.
We had hoped that Mr. Steinberg and our publication could split in an amicable fashion, but we have concluded that Mr. Steinberg wishes instead to defame our publication in service of his own personal ambition.
For this reason, we have reluctantly chosen to issue this statement in our defense.
Matthew Reade — Editor-in-Chief Sophie Mann — Deputy Editor-in-Chief William Gu — Publisher Megan Keller — Managing Editor & CFO Elliot Dordick — Senior Associate Editor