“Progressive” LA Weekly’s New Interim Editor Made Some Very Bad Jokes About “the Gays” and “Fat Women”
On Friday, LA Weekly operations manager Brian Calle announced that Hillel Aron, the only staff writer who wasn’t laid off on Nov. 29 by the newspaper’s new management, has been named interim editor-in-chief. Amid an advertiser boycott campaign organized by former LA Weekly writers in response to reports that the new ownership group consists of Republican donors, Calle has touted Aron’s appointment as reassurance that the newspaper will remain committed to progressive values.
“He will have complete independence and autonomy from the business side of the company,” Calle and investor David Welch said in a statement. “He’ll also create an Editorial Advisory Board made up of veteran progressive Angeleno journalists to ensure that the Weekly preserves its progressive voice.”
Aron, who became an LA Weekly staff writer in 2013, has a preexisting relationship with Calle. According to The Wrap, the two worked together on a television show in 2012, and Calle once expressed interest in hiring Aron at the OC Register, where Calle oversaw the newspaper’s conservative opinion section for eight years. Aron told The Wrap that he recently spoke to Calle, before his role in purchasing LA Weekly was made public, and that after their conversation, “I personally did not expect to be fired.”
Aron has urged readers to believe in the alt-weekly’s editorial future. “The essential trust that binds the paper to its community has been damaged. I will seek to repair that trust,” he wrote in a statement. “I will also aim to uphold the paper’s values of independence, irreverence and fearlessness.”
Here are some old tweets from the journalist entrusted with preserving that independence, irreverence, and fearlessness. Aron started contributing to LA Weekly in 2010. In a statement provided to SPIN, Aron called these “bad attempts at humor” that “of course” do not align with LA Weekly’s editorial mission. Calle has not responded to a request for comment. You can read Aron’s full statement below.
These tweets were bad attempts at humor. The flippant use of the words “gay,” “chick,” and “fat” was offensive, and not funny – then and now. I regret them, I’m embarrassed by them, and I wish I could take them back. I apologize to anyone they offend. On advice of a few journalists I respect, I am not deleting them, nor am I deleting any of my old tweets, in the interest of transparency.
The tweets were made seven to ten years ago, when twitter was a very different place than it is today. The intended audience was not the world but my small group of friends who represented the bulk of my followers at the time. I was also a different person back then. I was not a journalist, not an even remotely public figure and I made any number of mistakes, both online and in real life.
The question, “Do you believe the tweets are aligned with LA Weekly’s editorial mission?” is, frankly, laughable. Of course they are not. Is digging through old tweets trying to embarrass an editor of a very small alternative weekly newspaper part of Spin’s editorial mission? Apparently so.
UPDATE: Frank John Tristan of the OC Weekly has resurfaced a few more noteworthy tweets: