Earlier this month, Kate McGee, of the Texas Tribune, reported on a hiring mess in the Department of Communication and Journalism at Texas A&M University. The department offered Kathleen McElroy, a former editor at the New York Times and director of the University of Texas at Austin’s journalism school, a tenured position as head of its revived journalism program—a position that McElroy accepted, to great fanfare, in a signing ceremony—only for the appointment to go awry amid a right-wing backlash. McElroy said that José Luis Bermúdez, the interim dean of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, told her that her hiring had generated “noise” within the system due to her being “a Black woman who was at the New York Times,” which, “to these folks, [is] like working for Pravda.” Texas A&M watered down its offer to McElroy to such an extent that she eventually decided to stay put at UT Austin, where she has tenure.
Since then, the controversy has snowballed. A few days after the Tribune’s initial report, Bermúdez resigned from his interim leadership post; a few days after that, M. Katherine Banks, the university’s president, resigned, too, citing the “distraction”