The New York Observer is pulling the plug on open letters from its writers that criticize the paper — and its controversial relationship to Donald Trump.
Ryan Holiday, a journalist and editor-at-large at the Observer, said that the paper refused to publish his essay Dear Dad, Please Don’t Vote For Donald Trump and told staffers that it would “no longer accept columns of this nature on this topic.”
While the letter is a personal essay about his relationship to his father, Holiday said his editors took issue with his reference to the paper’s “father issues when it comes to Donald Trump.”
Jared Kushner, the paper’s publisher, is Trump’s son-in-law and the paper has endorsed the candidate in April.
Holiday said that he offered to cut out the problematic paragraph, but still received a refusal.
“I love the Observer and have published much of my best work, much of it political, there for four years,” said Holiday in an email. “Since the offer to adjust that problematic language was declined, I have trouble following the logic that this ‘navel gazing’ paragraph about Trump’s relationship with the Observer was the core issue.”
The announcement comes as damage control in the wake of the media firestorm that followed Observer culture reporter Dana Schwartz’s letter criticizing Kushner’s silence on the anti-Semitic attacks of Trump supporters in the wake of his Star of David tweet.
Senior Politics Editor Jillian Jorgensen tweeted that there was an internal decision not to publish open letters from Observer staff about the paper. The paper is still accepting critical open letters from non-staff.
What I’ve been told was there was a decision not to publish open letter type stuff that is about the Observer. So, less navel-gazing.— Jillian Jorgensen (@Jill_Jorgensen) July 13, 2016
All of you who don’t work at the Observer are free to gaze at us, though. Feel free to call me to chat before you gaze in print.— Jillian Jorgensen (@Jill_Jorgensen) July 13, 2016
Holiday said that while Observer editor Ken Kurson encouraged him to publish his letter elsewhere, he does not agree with the paper’s decision.
“Surely the Observer does not have a problem with the literary concept of ‘open letters’ — it’s a common practice,” he said. “It seems to me that the problem was the subject matter and I would feel ashamed of myself to not publish something I believed in simply because my writing home would not publish it.”
Schwartz said that she had not been aware of any policy change at the paper and declined to comment further.
Kurson refused to discuss the issue in a terse email exchange with the Forward.
“Are you kidding me?” he wrote. “I will maintain my focus on meaningful work and I hope you’ll do the same. “