Fired for Prioritizing Truth Over Ideology, Zac Kriegman Takes His Complaint to the Public
Are we Americans still living in a free country? Something unthinkable ten years ago is now happening in many schools, colleges, and corporations. You will be silenced and even fired if you dare to express opinions that challenge the dominating narrative. This is commonplace in countries like China and Russia. But in America?
Zac Kriegman, a former director of data science at Thomson Reuters, thought he could share his findings with his colleagues based on facts and research. After all, it was his job to sift through reams of numbers and figure out what they meant. But he was fired for simply expressing his opinion on Reuters’s internal collaboration platform.
His nightmare started when in 2021, he decided to research race and police brutality. He wanted to help black Americans. But his research led him to conclude that the claim upon which the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement rested was false. Contrary to the BLM narrative, whites are shot disproportionately more than blacks.
Unfortunately, because the BLM narrative was now conventional wisdom, police departments, under intense scrutiny from left-wing politicians and activists, scaled back patrols in dangerous neighborhoods filled with black residents. This led to soaring violence in many communities and thousands of needless deaths—otherwise known as the Ferguson Effect.
But he was afraid of losing his job, and for many months he stayed silent. Yet he continued to read Reuters’s reporting on the BLM movement and started to see how the company’s misguided worldview about policing and racism was distorting the way news stories were reported to the public.
He observed that:
A pattern was starting to emerge: Reporters and editors would omit key details that undermined the BLM narrative. More important than reporting accurately was upholding—nurturing—that storyline.
At some point, the organization went from ignoring key facts to just reporting lies. When Donald Trump declared, in July 2020, that the police kill more white than black people—this is true—Reuters, in its dispatch, repeated the false claim that blacks “are shot at a disproportionate rate.” … In fact, the only rigorous study to examine the likelihood of police use of force … found that police, as mentioned, were less likely to use lethal force against black Americans.
Kriegman was deeply unsettled:
It was bad for Reuters, which was supposed to be objective and withhold judgment. It was bad for our readers, who were being misinformed. And it was bad for black people in rough neighborhoods, where local officials, prompted to take action by reporting like ours and the public outcry it triggered, were doing things like defunding the police.
When he finally decided to share his findings on the company’s internal collaboration platform called the Hub, his wife was concerned:
She wasn’t just worried about my job, but also about her job, and she was worried that word would get out to the rest of our community. BLM lawn signs lined our street. Our friends sympathized with the cause. We wondered whether we’d be ostracized.
Eventually, his wife allowed him to do what they believed was the right thing. In early May 2021, he shared his post (which you can read here). But within an hour or two, the moderators had taken down his post. After about two weeks under review by H.R., it was deemed “antagonistic” and “provocative.” During this time, his manager told him that the post could put the kibosh on future promotions at Reuters.
After two meetings with H.R. and the Head of Diversity and Inclusion, his post was reinstated after some changes. He was relieved, not realizing that he would be viciously attacked:
Then the comments started rolling in. A handful of BLM supporters, all of them white, said that, as a white person, I had no place criticizing BLM. They called my review of the academic literature “whitesplaining” (failing to note that many of the academics I cited were black). I was publicly derided as a “troll,” “confused,” “laughable,” and “not worth engaging with or even attempting to have an intelligent conversation” with.
However, no one offered a single substantive challenge to the facts he was citing.
After enduring waves of abuse, he emailed H.R. to express his concern about these attacks on him and their chilling effect. Their solution was to remove his post and shut down the conversation. In addition, he was told that he would be fired if he dared to discuss his experience on any internal company communications channel.
At that point, he was even more distraught:
Here I was trying to bring the company's attention to how we were spreading lies that were contributing to the murders of thousands of black people, and I was compared to a Klansman sympathizer, and forbidden by the company to discuss any of it.
In his last effort, for the sake of Reuters and journalism, he emailed colleagues and company leadership to express concern about how the attacks against him had successfully shut down any productive conversation and left his reputation in tatters.
The next day, H.R. called me to say that my access to all company computer and communications systems had been revoked.
Three days later, on June 8, 2021, I was fired.
But he is now fighting back. He warns Americans:
A decade ago, my experiences at Thomson Reuters would have been unthinkable. Most Americans probably think it’s still unthinkable. That’s what makes it so dangerous. Most of us don’t understand how deeply compromised our news sources have become. Most of us have no idea that we are suffused with fictions and half-truths that sound sort of believable and are shielded from scrutiny by people whose job is to challenge them. This is true, above all, of my fellow liberals, who assume only Republicans complain about the mainstream media. But this is not a partisan issue. This is a We The People issue.
Zac’s experience is not an isolated case. A pattern emerged in the past couple of years: if you dare to challenge the dominating narrative, you will pay a heavy price.
Indeed there is an ideology that has been spreading in his former company and other institutions. It is a new variant of the more-than-a-century-old Marxism. It has already seized America’s higher education and is now spreading through K-12 schools and corporations. Many teachers and employees are afraid of a radicalized minority of recently graduated “Red Guards.”
But there are brave people like Zac. I wrote about Jennifer Sey, who turned down a million dollars to speak out. You can also read about Bari Weiss, Paul Rossi, Roland Fryer, Gordon Klein, and Maud Maron. There is hope if more people dare to speak out and in doing so keep America free. The land of the free belongs to the brave.Dr. Pingnan Shi
grew up during China's Cultural Revolution and immigrated to the US in 1995. He became a high school math teacher after having worked as an engineer for 20 years. Disillusioned with the current schooling model, he became an independent math teacher/tutor in 2018. He writes mainly on education and culture.• Get SALVO blog posts in your inbox! Copyright © 2022 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/post/a-we-the-people-issue