The Saga of Erin Overbey
The New Yorker’s library was once a central hub on the office grapevine; after its archive editor shone a light on the magazine’s historic lack of diversity and impugned top editor David Remnick, the institution’s whisper network turned on her.
Much of the story of Erin Overbey, The New Yorker’s archive editor who was terminated on July 22, has played out exclusively on Twitter. The shocking statistics about the magazine’s historic lack of diversity that she laid out in a 20-tweet thread last September — such as, “In its 96 years of existence, the @NewYorker print mag has published only 4 book reviews by African-American women. (That’s less than 0.01%.)” — were widely hailed. But until now, her now former colleagues at the magazine have mostly maintained an eerie silence beyond a rash of subtweets. There were some exceptions. The same day as Overbey’s original thread, Michael Luo, the editor of the magazine’s site, tweeted his own thread arguing, “I don’t think I can over-emphasize how much this issue has been prioritized, which comes from the very top,” adding that top editor David Remnick “has made it a priority, almost to the point of relentlessness, for years now.” But that doesn’t mean members of The New Yorker diaspora weren’t talking among themselves — and eventually to The Fine Print.
Most of the people who spoke for this story — both those who support Overbey and those who question her narrative — asked to remain anonymous, as neither side seems entirely comfortable with being written about. Many of Overbey’s critics questioned her motives behind her tweetstorms, connecting them to the timing of performance reviews. Lots also focused on the difficulty colleagues had working with her and recounted heated personal encounters, like when they said she shouted down a copy editor at a holiday party, which caused tension in the office. Some focused on a substantive rift between Overbey and the magazine’s union after she left the unit council in 2020 and accused her of hypocrisy for not participating in union actions meant to put pressure on management to address criticisms of the sort she’s expressed publicly. Others still spun out into wild invective, claiming the former archivist was the inspiration for a mass shooter character in a play written by a former New Yorker employee. Some of Overbey’s former colleagues characterized her as a dangerous office gossip who made colleagues uncomfortable. Others, who were generally more sympathetic to her, painted a picture of an institution built on intricate strategic alliances and burbling over with gossip.
“The external and internal perceptions of this situation are night and day. The reason you’re not seeing a lot of staff support publicly for her is that people do not support her. It’s not because we’re living under some culture of fear and are afraid of speaking out,” said one staff member. “Reporters are the gossipiest people on earth. No one’s waiting for the PR person to tell them to go talk shit about Erin.” The staff member added, “There were underlying reasons for many years that they were reviewing her work. And my sense is that she stored this ammo up, these statistics, to release at whatever point she felt her job was in jeopardy. That’s kind of the perception that people inside the magazine have of what’s been going on.”
“That has nothing to do with it, because I was put on a performance improvement plan in June this year,” Overbey told The Fine Print, though Gawker reported on August 4 that she’d received a “final warning” about self-plagiarism in her work four days before the publication of her initial thread in September.
Overbey does have supporters among both current and former New Yorker staff members. “Erin was always really helpful to me, efficient, and professional — and warm and friendly as well,” one longtime staff writer told The Fine Print. Some who worked alongside her in the archives recalled that she made the magazine feel more accessible. “We’re talking about the most prestigious magazine in the country, arguably, right? I think it’s just the nature of the beast,” said one of Overbey’s former colleagues in the archives. “It’s not a place that feels approachable to the average person coming in. It’s intimidating. I think Erin made it a lot less intimidating.”
But even other editorial staffers who have challenged the powers that be at the magazine by forming a union have been suspicious of Overbey’s motives. “It’s just really frustrating because I felt it was a calculated move,” said a union member. “Obviously, diversity is an issue at The New Yorker. It’s not new news, necessarily. The data is the data, I guess, and I’m glad in some ways that she publicized it. But I really hate that she’s currying public favor on Twitter and that Twitter thinks she’s the bravest journalist in the history of mankind. This is not the case. She’s just another, forgive me, white lady who’s just trying to advance herself.”
When The Fine Print asked Overbey whether she had ever considered sharing her diversity statistics with the union, she said that she had shown them in October 2019 to Lainna Fader, head of audience development and a leader in the union of editorial staffers that had organized the year before, but that Fader had asked to use them “in a punitive way against a top male editor she’d just filed a complaint against and was in the midst of an ongoing HR investigation.” This, she said, “was not how I wanted my work to be used,” and added, “it appeared to create a temporary rift at the time, but I’m sure that’s water under the bridge now.”
Fader confirmed that she’d seen the statistics before Overbey’s thread went up. “Erin did show me her diversity stats in a drafted thread on her phone. It was not sent to me. I have no opinion on its veracity as I didn’t get a copy of it to try to evaluate the data or vet the conclusions,” she told The Fine Print. She also denied Overbey’s context for the discussion. “I did file an HR complaint against an editor, but it was not about diversity. Erin’s diversity stats didn’t come up in that context, and would have served no purpose in that situation,” she said. “I did ask Erin to share her diversity stats with the union. This was before we got to bargaining over diversity and inclusion, hiring practices, and economics, which is a context in which her work could have been very helpful. She declined. She said something to the effect of having that thread banked as an insurance policy. I can’t recall if that’s the specific wording she used, but that was the gist of it.”
“That’s a complete fabrication and an outright lie,” Overbey said when asked about Fader’s insurance policy characterization. “In fact, I think she used the words ‘insurance policy’ on her end for her request to me. Why would I need an insurance policy in the fall of 2019 when no so-called performance issues had ever been raised against me at that time? That doesn’t even make any sense. She never asked me to share the stats with the union before bargaining.”
Others pushed back on the idea of the initial diversity thread being a calculated scheme to protect her job. “That would be such a bizarre thing to calculate,” said a former staff member. “I wasn’t surprised when she wrote that thread, because I knew that she cared about these issues. I knew she had standing relationships in the literary world with people who really care about these issues. So it wasn’t to me like it was coming out of nowhere. But it was like, ‘Oh, wow, as a New Yorker employee she’s actually going to tweet about this like this. She is taking a stance here.’” The former staff member added, “I think she just got angry over time and, not in a negative connotation, just made a choice. It doesn’t seem to have been insurance for her against getting fired at all.”
Overbey frames negative comments about her from New Yorker staffers as a distraction. “When you want to distract from someone’s message, from the facts that they’re laying out, the most effective strategy is to try and smear the person or the messenger professionally and personally. And I feel strongly that they are trying to do that on many levels here, and I also feel like that indicates a certain level of desperation. And I also feel that it very much reflects poorly not on me, but on them,” she said. “One of my [relatives] is the judge who decided the school busing decision in North Carolina that went all the way to the Supreme Court. He became a bit of a pariah in his town and had to be put under police protection from the Klan for months. I think The New Yorker sincerely believes that I’m as easily cowed as all of the other writers, editors, publicists, etc., in this town who depend so heavily upon the magazine’s favor for their professional existence. I’m not. It’s clear that, even after all of these years, they still don’t know what I’m made of. I welcome the opportunity they’re giving me to reintroduce myself to them.”
The New Yorker has always had an institutional inclination to keep its internal machinations and intramural disputes out of public sight. In 1934, an 18-page Fortune profile of the magazine’s founding editor, Harold Ross, anonymously authored by a former editor, inspired much internal hubbub — “Fortune said I never read a book,” Ross later complained to E.B. White — as did memoirs by early magazine staffers James Thurber and Brendan Gill. But it wasn’t until 1965, when Tom Wolfe investigated the magazine in a series called “Tiny Mummies” for the nascent New York magazine, then still a Sunday supplement of the New York Herald Tribune, that the magazine felt it had to orchestrate a series of public responses. Wolfe’s series elicited rejoinders from heavyweights like Muriel Spark, E.B. White, J.D. Salinger, and Dwight Macdonald, while William Shawn, Ross’s successor as editor and the main subject of the pieces, enlisted Renata Adler and Gerald Jonas to publicly fact-check Wolfe’s work in the Columbia Journalism Review. Wolfe’s publisher Roger Straus of Farrar, Straus and Giroux told Ben Yagoda for his New Yorker history, About Town, that a few years later, Shawn called him to dissuade him from including the piece in an upcoming Wolfe collection: “I hope that piece about me is not going to be in it.”
For the next three decades, “Tiny Mummies” was notably absent in Wolfe’s published collections until he included it in his 2000 book Hooking Up. At the time, New York’s founding editor Clay Felker told Gabriel Snyder, now The Fine Print’s publisher and editor-in-chief, “The New Yorker people have never forgiven Tom.”
That same year, Adler faced her own ex-communication from the New Yorker fold after publishing Gone: The Last Days of The New Yorker. Overbey, who had started her 28-year career at the magazine a few years earlier in 1994, recalled an office gathering shortly after that book was published. “I remember very vividly that things were said by one of the top editors that indicated that the magazine felt under attack — that we were under attack, basically — that was the terminology and the phrasing used. And it was a very clear reference to Renata Adler’s book,” she said. “I guess at the time I didn’t understand why people were viewing it that way.”
In some ways, it is exactly because of The New Yorker’s habitual reluctance to open itself to outsiders that these breach moments become the best remembered and most revealing in the magazine’s history. They produce rare occasions when insiders — a category that covers a loose confederacy of both current and former staffers and frequent and occasional contributors — feel atypically motivated to talk and thus offer a glimpse of an organization that typically they so carefully shield. “You’re talking about something that in a couple of years will be a century old, and, like all of us old people, its traits and crotchets and everything are pretty well established,” said Thomas Kunkel, a historian of the magazine and author of biographies of Ross and staff writer Joseph Mitchell. “I think that sense of discomfort whenever anybody on the outside wants to pull the curtain back a little bit — it goes with the territory.”
One of those well-established institutional traits that Overbey and The New Yorker share is the value put on office gossip. “Every last person there gossips and talks about each other and has people they decide they don’t like,” said a former staffer. “That is a huge part of the magazine: who you’re friends with, who you tell stuff, who you don’t tell stuff, knowing the people you can trust or not trust. That’s all part of working there and knowing the diplomacy of knowing what to say to who.”
Current staff members singled out Overbey’s inability to abide by certain codes of etiquette in such a gossip-driven culture. “There was a kind of social discomfort with her, I think because she was very gossipy. You would tell her something, and then she would announce it an hour later in front of lots of people,” said one. “So, I think people became wary of her penchant for gossip, and it’s funny because this whole thing is kind of that writ large.”
Overbey cited that culture when explaining why she individually tweeted out the demographic data she compiled rather than working with the magazine’s union on a diversity report. “I kind of almost felt like it was the small town in ‘The Lottery,’ except, instead of stones it would just be gossip. So it’s a very small town, and everything gets around,” she said. “I kept it very tight in terms of who I ever informed that I was doing this work.”
In some ways, as people who are both sympathetic to her and not noted, Overbey was a quintessential New Yorker lifer. When she first started at the magazine, then based on West 43rd Street, the well-staffed archives department was still analog. “What they used to do is you’d have these big books, and in the books, they cut out people’s articles — so David Grann, if he has a new article, you’d cut it out, literally from the magazine, you’d paste it in his archive book,” said a former colleague from the archives. “You’d go through and you’d see Truman Capote’s book, you’d see these famous writers who spent years at the magazine or wrote these big features, and you see their stuff kept in real-time, which is really, really cool.” When the magazine moved in with the rest of Condé Nast at 4 Times Square in 1999, the archives were centrally located in the new office plan, making the space something of a social hub. “In the aughts, it was a hangout. They had a bowl of candy. People would go and chit chat with Erin and Jon [Michaud, the head of the library from 2003 to 2012] and other people who were there, and it was kind of a fun center. It was like the break room almost,” recalled one staff member. “What I remember about her during that era is that she was an extroverted, merry, gossipy, sarcastic person. In a very quiet office, she really stood out because she was extroverted and funny.”
Some of the discussions about Overbey and her career at The New Yorker have gone in unexpected directions. Soon after her initial thread last fall, conversations started connecting Overbey to the 2015 play Gloria by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, who was an assistant in the magazine’s fiction department from 2007 to 2010. The title character, who staff allege is partly based on Overbey, works at a magazine similar to The New Yorker. At the end of the first act, she shoots up the magazine and kills herself. “They’re all making fun of her the whole first act because she threw a housewarming party for her new apartment, and people didn’t come. That part is Erin because she threw some big party when she bought her apartment,” said a staff member. “It’s someone else’s personality because Erin’s very outgoing and sarcastic and funny, and this character was not that. [Gloria] was this creepy withdrawn weirdo, but the part about her making a big deal of her housewarming party was, I think, taken from Erin.” Staff members have drawn other comparisons to the character as well. “People have been talking about how the play was prescient because instead of coming back and shooting up the place, she’s gone on a tweetstorm,” said a staffer. “It’s sort of like the play coming true in this metaphorical way. I think that’s what people have been joking about.”
Overbey said she had not heard of the play but was incensed to hear that her former colleagues had compared her to the character. “This is insane. This goes way beyond smears or rumors,” she said. “I don’t see how bringing up significant issues of systemic inequality in the media is in any way comparable to massacring an entire office. This is beyond sad at this point.” She denied the specific comparison about the party too. “I have hosted many a party. I think the housewarming party that I hosted actually, James Franco attended — I don’t think, I know — that was another time, you can’t judge me,” she said, “and multiple people from the magazine attended.”
Jacobs-Jenkins, through his agent Derek Zasky at WME, denied that any character in the play was based on Overbey.
When Michaud stepped down as head librarian in 2012, Overbey could have reasonably expected to be promoted into the job. “She has an enormous knowledge of everything that’s been in the magazine for 90 years and that’s really where so much of her value and institutional knowledge lies. It’s a real asset — or it was a real asset,” said a staff member. “But there was a reason why they hired this new person. Maybe they should have, maybe they shouldn’t have. I don’t know.” Overbey contends that the person hired over her, whose name she has not mentioned in discussions with The Fine Print and which The New Yorker asked to be withheld, should never have gotten the job because he didn’t have the necessary experience working in an archive or library.
Others at the magazine have pointed out that the half-Asian man who took the job had done graduate work in Harvard’s libraries, lectured at The Kennedy School, had been a columnist for The Boston Globe’s Ideas section, and had a background in tech, which could be applied to the digital transformation of the archive. Overbey stuck to her point, however. “Literally days before they terminated me, I found the original job posting and I sent it to HR,” she said. “It very clearly states in the requirements that you have to have a minimum of five plus years in a library, either a library and/or archive environment. And that’s a requirement. And he didn’t have that. So I think it’s pretty black and white, it’s pretty clear cut. I appreciate that they’re trying to push back on that but you kind of can’t when the facts are the facts.”
The library lost some of its charms when the magazine moved from Times Square to One World Trade Center in 2014. But it was still a space removed, to some extent, from the pressures of the office. “Because she had her archive office, which was kind of nice, where she had her own space and worked from her own space,” said a former staffer, “I think she was able to just be there a little bit more.” When the magazine moved floors in 2019, the library was moved elsewhere, and Overbey was seated at a desk in an open office. “The library as a place was really diminished to nothing,” said a staffer. “She was just at a desk in an open office situation, and then the lockdown happened, and she’s sort of been all alone. And I think that part of this has to do with this department being squeezed down and feeling like she’s had less turf, fewer resources.”
Overbey disputes that reading. “What does that have to do with pointing out a lack of diversity in legacy media, and particularly at the magazine where I formerly worked?” she asked. “It sounds to me like a theory like this is something that people cook up when they’re trying to figure out something to explain the timeline, right? So I said that I started working on my diversity stuff back in 2019. Now they’re trying to sort of be, like, ‘Oh, okay, what happened, then? What can we blame it on? What can we say was the trigger for this?’ Rather than the fact that they had no black editor for feature pieces. And I had pointed this out to them multiple times in-house. Rather than actually deal with the actual facts and the issue, I guess they’re trying — I guess, I’m not even sure what they’re trying to claim — they’re trying to claim that because we moved offices, that somehow I had some sort of Shutter Island-type descent? Is this the claim here?”
Though the library could offer a retreat from the rest of the office, its archivist did not work in isolation. Both on her newsletters and in bringing old stories to the site, Overbey worked with copy editors, fact checkers, and production staff to get her job done. Many of her former colleagues claimed that working with her could be difficult. “People have not had personally good experiences with her, and one of the things she was under review for is being really difficult to work with at her actual job,” said a staff member. “A couple years ago, at a holiday party, she told off this female copy editor for no reason, a very shy, introverted person who’s really harmless, and Erin just went off on her at this party.” A second source corroborated the incident, but Overbey denied it happened. “If the magazine wants to go there, we could go there. I mean, there are definitely people in the office who have behaved really poorly,” she said. “I would very much characterize that as a smear. And I would also say that this is a really weird path for them to want to go down, a very strange path, because people in glass houses should not really, you know.”
Overbey argued that the suggestion that she was difficult to work with is a product of misogyny. “I don’t know of any man or male colleague at the magazine who has ever been written up or put under a performance review for having issues with colleagues or being referred to as ‘disrespectful.’ And I know of many male colleagues who I think could be put in that category,” she said. “If there were issues with other departments and being able to get the right photo or being able to get the right conversion of a piece on time, I would definitely be direct about that and be like, ‘So and so has asked for this piece, we really need this piece to go up,’ ‘Someone has died, we really need this piece to go up.’ But, no, these are the kinds of ridiculous crap, I’m sorry to use that word, but that’s what I view it as, that they use when they’re trying to push you out.”
People who are sympathetic to her don’t necessarily dispute that it’s possible Overbey was difficult in the workplace, but they question how closely that was related to her firing. “I’m sure Erin made her mistakes. I’m sure other people made their mistakes. But it seems to me, just from my experience working there, and the things that I was privy to in my role, that a lot of it is just about personal dislike, and then having an opportunity now to get rid of her,” said a former staff member. “I think there are different standards for different people at the magazine. Some people turn in incredibly messy, totally, factually shaky work all the time, but because of the writer they are, they’re never going to come under performance review for that unless they did something else that embarrassed the magazine, and then that would come up.”
When The New Yorker editorial staff announced it had organized a union in 2018, Overbey initially supported the nascent effort and sat on the unit council until June 2020. “She would show up to all the meetings, all of the unit council meetings. She was there. She was vocal,” said a staff member with knowledge of the organizing effort. “I know that Erin has been trying to basically get a raise that was aligned with the previous person in her position for a very long time. Then, when the guild tried its very best to support Erin, she was just completely unsatisfied with the results and took it out on the guild and representation at the guild, without realizing that Condé only has so much money that they’re willing to shell out. One of the beauties of having a union is to be able to have somebody in your corner, but at the end of the day, the guild doesn’t hold the purse strings; Condé does. So she was sort of unsatisfied with the way that that shook out.”
Overbey said that what led to her leaving the unit council in 2020 was a confrontation with a NewsGuild representative in which she said the representative “chased me down a hallway and lashed out at me for 20 minutes.” Asked to comment on Overbey’s account NewsGuild spokesperson Wen Zhuang told The Fine Print, “For inquiries about Erin specifically: We don’t comment publicly on individual disciplinary matters, but we are committed to making sure that all union members receive fair representation and that our contract is being followed.”
Following her departure from the unit council, a union member said Overbey declined to participate in a digital picket of The New Yorker Festival that fall and a 24-hour work stoppage the following January. “At the end of the day, she wasn’t really willing to do the work. And she has said to me that ‘I’ll do a work stoppage on my own.’ I was like, ‘Okay, that’s not how this works.’ And then when she does these types of things, she puts herself in a position where it’s harder for us to stand by her and protect her if she’s not doing what a collective action really means,” they said. “She wanted the union’s help when she needed the union’s help, but when it was coming down to organizing and doing the actual work, she was nowhere to be found, which is the crazy part about what’s happening here.”
Overbey didn’t comment on whether or not she participated in those union actions. Instead, she pushed back on the line of questioning. “I feel like this is an attempt to sort of like, ‘Oh, let’s smear Erin as being hypocritical,’” she said. “But to be hypocritical, you have to have been on the forefront and saying like, ‘Oh my god, I’m this huge, huge union activist.’ I don’t believe I’ve ever claimed that or stated that.” Still, some of her former co-workers see her public comments, which, at least as far as pay equity goes, are about improving working conditions at the magazine, as being incongruous with not participating in union actions. “It just seems like she’s creating this drama around herself, but not helping in the collective effort to solve these more structural issues with pay that she’s been going off about on Twitter,” said one.
“It seems quite unusual to me that a fired former employee who was also a union member who also may be speaking with the union about, potentially, doing something about her termination is now being apparently smeared by union members,” Overbey fired back when she heard that these disputes had been discussed with The Fine Print.
Union members and other staff have interpreted being blocked by Overbey on Twitter as a sign of continuing tension. “Erin blocked me on Twitter and half of the leadership of the union on Twitter during our contract campaign,” said a union member. “I’m not on Twitter that much anyway, but even if I wanted to see her tweets, I couldn’t see them.” The blocks have been perceived as pretty encompassing. “She’s blocked people including the young people of color and women and union members who she is, ostensibly, speaking on behalf of,” said a staff member.
“I employ my Twitter account as I see fit and if I want to block someone, I block someone,” Overbey said. “I do not think that it is anyone’s business and I actually have blocked people that I really adore and admire and love, simply because as I said, this magazine operates almost like a very small provincial town.”
In the wake of unionization at the magazine, some staffers feel that Remnick has been compelled to become more accessible. “David has been much more keyed into people, walking around the office and checking in on people, calling them just to compliment them on things. He’s been much more attentive and encouraging personally of people,” said one staffer. So when Overbey’s thread impugned his reputation, they felt compelled to respond.
“She implies very heavily that he knew that she was under review and that basically he put in these errors on purpose to frame her and absolutely zero people who have ever worked with David Remnick think that he is remotely capable of doing that. He lives his life according to this code of journalistic ethics and he would never knowingly insert an error into something that is under his name, by the way, because this was for a newsletter that was under his name, and he especially wouldn’t do it about Janet Malcolm, the beloved staff writer, and what year she died. It’s so insane,” said a staff member. “That was when people at the magazine really felt like it was impossible not to fire her, because to say that about the editor-in-chief and accuse him of this insane breach of journalistic ethics that he would obviously never do was just beyond the pale.”
Not everyone who has worked with Remnick was so certain. “I don’t know if it’s possible that he would do it purposefully,” said a former staff member. “I think it is definitely possible he unthinkingly added errors to her work. I’ve seen that kind of thing happen from top editors.” A New Yorker spokesperson declined to comment on Remnick’s role in the errors making it into the copy, but shared a statement on the intentionality aspect: “The New Yorker is deeply committed to accuracy, and to suggest that anyone here would ever knowingly introduce errors into a story, for any reason, is absurd and just plain wrong.”
Overbey did not share the email evidence she referred to in her thread with The Fine Print. The only publication that seems to have delved into her trove of documents is Politico’s Playbook which published an item on July 26 saying that “a review of emails sent between Remnick and Overbey backs up Overbey’s case: On June 30, Remnick emailed Overbey language for a New Yorker newsletter that included two errors.” Staff at the magazine questioned Overbey’s choice to share her evidence with a newsletter written by Ryan Lizza, who was fired by the magazine for “improper sexual conduct.” (Lizza denied the charge at the time.) “Politico should be dragged for not disclosing that their reporter, who came there after being fired from The New Yorker is writing about this New Yorker firing without disclosing it,” said a staff member. “That is a huge breach.”
Overbey declined to comment on why she took her emails to Politico. “Ryan Lizza’s biography, including his previous employment at The New Yorker, is prominently featured on the landing page of each edition of Playbook. The landing page is linked at the top of each emailed newsletter,” Melissa Cooke, Politico’s communications director, told The Fine Print. That biography includes The New Yorker among a list of publications that Lizza has written for but does not include any context about the circumstances around his departure from the magazine.
Even people who aren’t particularly sympathetic to Overbey don’t deny the merits of some of her grievances. “She wasn’t getting paid enough. I mean, she tweeted out her salary, and it was pretty low for someone who’s been there for 30 years or so. That’s totally legit,” said a staffer. “I think the magazine should have made her feel more valued, or just told her a long time ago that her work wasn’t up to snuff because I think a lot of her resentment was left to fester.” And they saw it as being tied up with the sorts of relationships people form with the magazine. “I think that being such a lifer is part of why this happened. I think it was kind of all or nothing,” they said. “And if she wasn’t happy for so long, which she wasn’t, then in a way, it’s too bad that she didn’t quit all those years ago because I think she could have found a better situation for herself.”
Part of it, some former employees believe, comes down to the sort of institution The New Yorker is. “You have to really believe in that place, not just as an idea or the work that you or others are doing there, but as a part of your identity. My sense with Erin is — and I haven’t spoken to her yet very deeply about this and her experience of this — I think for her, it’s super complex. And maybe over time, things really changed for her and what she was willing to hold in,” said one.
“People on the outside, obviously you don’t know all the ins and outs and all the relationships and who likes who and who resents who, but there’s a little bit more lucidity about these issues,” said the former staffer. “When you’re on the inside, I think you just get so enthralled to how this place works: the way people even speak, the language they use, the way they write emails. It’s so hard to describe the codes. I always would joke to my partner it’s like a borderline cult. It’s a weird place. I really like Erin, I’m friends with her, but it’s possible that she rubbed the wrong people the wrong way and that contributed to her getting let go, but I don’t think that kind of thing would happen outside of a prestigious media institution. The events that led up to this, it feels very particular to The New Yorker.”