Jezebel editor-in-chief Jessica Coen on Sunday defended publicizing the racist tweets of some minors following President Barack Obama’s re-election, saying the story highlighted hateful speech in America.
“We were just doing a search for Barack Obama and taking a look at the Twitter reaction, and we saw some unfortunate things, and then we started doing searches for racial slurs,” she told CNN’s Howard Kurtz. “And so many tweets came up, it was shocking — well, maybe not shocking but upsetting, certainly.”
Jezebel published a number of tweets that used racial slurs and derogatory descriptions to attack the President. Many of the racist messages were tweeted by minors. In a follow-up article, the publication said it had contacted the minors’ schools so that officials could “teach them about racial sensitivity.”
Kurtz questioned whether a media organization seeking to get teenagers punished could be a form of bullying.
“No,” Coen responded. “What’s going to happen is probably inevitable, yes, but we’re not bullying bullies. They put their messages out there. They put their names on it. They’re publicly part of these schools. To call an organization, when you find out an individual is part of an organization and they are acting in a manner that violates the codes of that organization, as a reporter, it makes sense to call that organization.”
Coen said it didn’t matter that those targeted in the articles were minors.
“So they need to learn, everybody needs to learn here that there’s no divide between real life and online. What you say online is just as important as what you say in real life. So I don’t think it matters what actually happens to the kids at the schools per se. We’re not acting as judges or juries. Our responsibility is just to the story.”
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube by CNN, below: