Former New York Times science reporter Donald McNeil told a student that “racism is over” on his now-infamous company-sponsored trip to Peru, the Times reported Sunday. McNeil, who had been with the paper since 1976 and was at the forefront of the paper’s coronavirus coverage, resigned a week after The Daily Beast reported that several students complained he made racist comments, including using the n-word in a quote, on the 2019 trip. One student, Sophie Shepherd, told the Times that she had kept a diary from the trip, and he told her in one conversation: “It’s frustrating, because Black Americans keep blaming the system, but racism is over, there’s nothing against them anymore—they can get out of the ghetto if they want to.” Two other students on the 2019 trip confirmed the account of the student. McNeil declined the claims: “I’m sure we’ll have different memories of conversations that took place that long ago.”
After The Daily Beast report, McNeil was given the choice of being moved to a less prestigious beat, and face questioning from the company’s human resources department, or resign, according to the Times. He chose to resign.