January 27, 2023

Erin Overbey, the longtime New Yorker staffer who in a Twitter tirade last week accused editor-in-chief David Remnick of sabotaging her by inserting errors into her work, was fired by the magazine on Friday for unprofessionalism and performance issues.

Overbey, 50, an archive editor who worked at The New Yorker since 1994, fired off another string of poison-pen tweets on Monday announcing she’d been canned, and said Remnick, 63, plotted to ‘intimidate and silence women.’

On Monday, the Daily Beast’s Confider reported that internal New Yorker documents showed Overbey was ousted ‘due to a pattern of conduct that is disruptive,’ which former co-workers said included being ‘unnecessarily hostile’ and taking to social media any time she had a gripe with management.

The decision to drop Overbey reached the highest levels of Conde Nast, with CEO Roger Lynch being involved in the early steps of her removal.

Erin Overbey made the claims in a series of posts to Twitter Monday, fingering longtime boss David Remnick as the one behind the alleged effort to can her

A Conde Nast called the allegations that David Remnick was responsible for the errors blamed on Overbey ‘absurd’

Overbey’s termination letter said she was being let go due to behavior which ‘undermines the journalistic ethics of our magazine,’ according to Confider, which included the Twitter assault she launched against Remnick last week.

‘​​These egregious and baseless remarks maligned your colleague and called the journalistic ethics and integrity of The New Yorker into question, a magazine that prides itself on accuracy,’ the letter read, ‘This follows previous incidents in which you have made baseless accusations against colleagues, for which you have been counseled.’ 

The letter then went on to list a litany of offenses that led to Overbey’s sacking, saying: ‘Your history of performance issues… your history of inappropriate and unprofessional behavior toward colleagues… your recent violation of the Company’s Global Business Communications Policy, and… your Final Warning for self-plagiarism issued on September 10, 2021.’

Confider said four current and former staffers characterized Overbey as ‘an opportunist,’ who had been upset with The New Yorker for years following management changes she feared threatened her hold on her ‘fiefdom’ at the magazine. 

After nearly 30 years at New York Magazine, Erin Overbey took to Twitter with a marathon thread detailing her dismissal and issues with editor-in-chief David Remnick

Overbey had a different take on things, calling The New Yorker’s statements about her ‘absurd,’ and reiterating her accusations that she was subject to a targeted attack from management.

‘I do feel like this is a concentrated effort to target someone who wouldn’t shut up about certain issues that the magazine wanted them to shut up about,’ she said. 

She also suggested the magazine asked staffers to speak against her to the media, saying ‘Condé has a policy that explicitly states that no member of staff can speak to any member of the press without first obtaining approval from management and that includes even off the record or on background.’ 

Remnick, pictured here with Conde Nast boss Agnes Chu in June, has worked as the magazine’s editor for nearly 30 years

Overbey had worked at the publication for nearly 30 years, but on Twitter she said the relationship began to falter when she started pointing out the lack of black editors and the disparity in pay between men and women, pointing out there were no black editors for feature pieces in nearly 15 years.

Speaking to Confider, she reiterated those those diversity concerns, saying ‘This is specifically about the lack of diversity and the lack of pay equality at the magazine.’

The New Yorker rebuked her claims, and said they were always striving to become more diverse.

‘Nearly 40% of new hires at Condé Nast are from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds,’ a spokesperson said, ‘While we don’t believe these tweets present a full or fair view of The New Yorker and its ongoing efforts, there is always more work to do, and we look forward to doing it.’ 

In her tweets on Monday, Overbey pushed her attack on Remnick and the magazine both. 

‘So the @NewYorker has fired me, effective immediately,’ she posted. ‘I’m speaking with the union about potentially filing a grievance on the termination. But here are some things that I will say…’

‘The @NewYorker is, in many ways, a wonderful institution. But it’s also ground zero for a kind of regressive literary gatekeeping, class exclusivity & old school cultural thinking that simply no longer have any relation to, or frankly relevance in, the modern world as we know it.’

She also pointed out that her predecessor as archive editor was paid 20 percent more than she was, but was less qualified for the position. 

‘The @NewYorker has never contested the facts as I have stated them: 1) that I was put under a performance review shortly after sending an email raising concerns about gender inequality & inclusion at the magazine.’

In her series of tweets, Overbey stressed that Remnick was at fault for the ‘errors’ in her stories 

 Overbey continued to claim that Remnick was the one who fumbled the facts in the copy. 

‘Several errors that were cited in an email reprimanding me while I was under the performance review were not mine; and 3) these were errors that David Remnick added to the copy.’

Overbey claimed that he put errors in on multiple occasions so that he could punish her, in a campaign she says was designed to ‘intimidate and silence women.    

The magazine has insisted that the errors Overbey flagged were spotted pre-publication and removed.

The saga, according to Overbey, began earlier this year, when brass at the storied publication suddenly launched a ‘performance review’ into her work.  

Four days prior, Overbey – who in addition to her role as archive editor serves as editor of the magazine’s Classics newsletter – had sent an email where she reportedly raised concerns about gender parity in the workplace. 

The main point Overbey stressed was her issue with the outlet’s lack of diversity

The performance review was called, Overbey said, ‘on the grounds that I was, in part, being ‘disrespectful’ and potentially ‘insubordinate’ –  a claim she said she made nearly a year prior, in which she complained of a lack of diversity in media.

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During the meeting, brass reportedly told the staffer – who insists the  there had been concerns about her job performance ‘for nearly a year.’

The review also saw management point out factual inaccuracies in her writing, Overbey said – inaccuracies the editor said were added to her copy after the fact. 

Two errors stood out to Overbey in particular, she said: One that saw her refer to the magazine’s Fiction Issue released earlier this month as the ‘Summer Issue’; and writing that longtime New Yorker writer Janet Malcolm died in 2022 instead of June 2021. The two errors were published while Overbey was under review. 

‘The performance review was being instituted, I was told, on the grounds that I was, in part, being ‘disrespectful,’ potentially ‘insubordinate,’ had factual inaccuracies in my writing,’ Overbey wrote.

Last week Overbey touted herself as a ‘female whistleblower’ and conceded that the Summer-Fiction error was debatable, but insisted the second error was inserted into her work without her knowledge.

‘While ‘Summer Issue’ can be debated, it’s true that Janet Malcolm did not pass away ‘earlier this year,’ Overbey tweeted. ‘She passed away last summer.’ 

‘As the magazine’s archivist,’ she went on, ‘one would expect me to be aware of that fact. And indeed I am – this is not a mistake I would ever make.’

Instead, Overbey asserted, the factual errors were inserted by Remnick, who has served as the magazine’s editor for Overbey’s entire tenure with the publication.

Overbey citied how Remnick – who started at The New Yorker as a staff writer in 1992 before being promoted to chief editor in 1998 – ‘knew that I was under a performance review & could be penalized or reprimanded severely for them,’ as a motive behind the alleged edits.

Overbey went on to cite several more instances where her work was, supposedly, spitefully revised. 

‘I highlight some of these to show the lengths to which even progressive institutions or publications will go when they actively seek to reprimand or professionally punish someone who has landed on their radar,’ Overbey said in the slew of posts.

Overbey contends that she was targeted due to the fact men within the magazine’s managerial structure – including Remnick – feel threatened by women now being more likely to speak out against sexist treatment.

‘Everything in the legacy media world, an establishment industry after all (no matter how progressive the publication), is geared toward keeping the status quo,’ Overbey wrote.

‘And there’s tremendous pressure put on anyone who questions or seeks to change it. 

‘Publications or legacy magazines that happily publish feature pieces on the lack of diversity in other fields may often use tactics ranging from icing you out professionally to workplace penalties to keep people from speaking up about inequality in their workplace. 

‘These publications tend to claim that all they want is for people to voice these concerns in-house—away from social media & the eyes of the public,’ the editor continued.

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‘But we all know that’s not really true. Many employees who try to voice concerns in-house are often labeled problematic or penalized – all of which is to say that I’ve been under a tremendous amount of pressure lately due to my persistence & consistency in speaking up and refusing to stay quiet about workplace inequality.’

She went on to accuse Remnick – a storied journalist and writer who won a Pulitzer in 1994 for his book Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire – of trying to ‘intimidate and silence’ her with the supposed campaign.

‘The male colleague at the magazine who added these errors to my copy while I was under performance review is David Remnick, the @NewYorker ‘s Editor-in-Chief,’ Overbey wrote.

‘I don’t pretend to understand why he did this. I do know that he has intimate knowledge of Malcolm’s work & when she died,’ she said of the aforementioned inaccuracy regarding her late colleague.

 Overbey then theorized that the errors had been implanted as part of a premeditated ruse by her boss to silence and punish her for her outspokenness.

‘The minutiae and the almost granular detail – the never knowing if you’re going to be called disrespectful or be told that you’re In error – is actually the point,’ she wrote of the nature of Remnick’s supposed scam.

‘It’s meant to keep you so preoccupied and distracted that you become too exhausted or overwhelmed to keep speaking out. It’s meant to make you never want to speak out again. And it’s meant to make you understand the cost of raising your voice – to your career & to you professionally. 

She added: ‘When powerful institutions seek to make women feel intimidated or silenced, it’s because they’re afraid of the power of one voice – and its potential to influence others.’

‘Whenever you attempt to target and/or set a trap for an employee—especially an institutional critic—there’s always the risk of overreaching,’ she went on. 

‘It’s best to understand that, in going to such lengths to accuse someone, there’s always a chance of finding oneself caught instead.’

Overbey added that she is considering filing  a formal complaint over the allegations. 

She says she has emails from Remnick to support her assertions, and is demanding an apology from the magazine.

‘I would like to think that the @NewYorker fully understands how professionally serious & deeply offensive it is to be accused, reprimanded & penalized for errors that are not one’s own,’ she wrote.

‘I would hope that [The New Yorker] would have the decency to offer me an apology for seeking to penalize a longtime female employee w/a successful record for errors made by the magazine’s EIC.’

Remnick denied the claims through a rep for the magazine last week. The rep wrote in an email: ‘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.’