New York Times Television Critic Defends ‘Angry Black Woman’ Piece

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New York Times television critic Alessandra Stanley opened her latest piece with a line that made many readers recoil.

In a profile that will be published in the paper’s print edition on Sunday, Stanley examined the career of screenwriter and producer Shonda Rhimes, whose hit shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” have featured “a powerful, intimidating black woman.”

Stanley, who is white, combined her subject’s history with the title of a new ABC drama that Rhimes’s company will produce to create a cringe-inducing lede.

“When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called ‘How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman,'” Stanley wrote.

The line drew an extremely negative reaction on Twitter, including from Rhimes.

Not only did Rhimes take umbrage to the title of the faux autobiography, she pointed out that Stanley, a journalist with a long history of factual errors, failed to credit Pete Nowalk as the creator of the new series, “How to Get Away With Murder.”

Stanley, however, told TPM in an email that she doesn’t think the opening sentence — or the ensuing Twitter criticism — does her profile justice.

“The whole point of the piece — once you read past the first 140 characters — is to praise Shonda Rhimes for pushing back so successfully on a tiresome but insidious stereotype,” she told TPM.

Here’s how the criticism of Stanley’s piece went down:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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