A Journalist Was Fired Over Ilhan Omar Meme
‘Islamophobia’ cancel culture at work.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
Narmeen Choudhury spends a lot of time tweeting about Islamophobia. The daughter of Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants has claimed that she faced discrimination in the workplace. But the one man she accused of Islamophobia was fired after 22 years on the job and is now suing for justice.
Choudhury had come to work at WPIX in 2011. Ken Evseroff, the reporter she accused, had not only been working at the New York City television station since 1997, but had worked his way up the hard way. Where Choudhury had graduated from Boston U, Evseroff had come out of SUNY and had done everything from working as a reporter to laboring as a camera operator on everything from All My Children to Nightline. By the time he came to WPIX, Evseroff was a seasoned professional.
And he expected to be treated like one.
The clash between Choudhury and Evseroff encompassed not just her allegations of Islamophobia, but class, political and generational differences. Choudhury was a privileged millennial from Duchess County married to an executive director at JP Morgan. And, like many privileged millennials, the WPIX reporter had a history of building her brand and lubricating her career by alleging incidents of discrimination.
In 2015, she claimed, “my husband was called a sand n***er”. The story didn’t seem like an especially plausible event in multicultural Manhattan in the final years of the Obama administration. And some might wonder how anyone would have guessed that her finance executive husband was Muslim.
But Choudhury’s recurring claims of Islamophobia turned very serious when they claimed a victim.
Choudhury complained about Evseroff in 2018. The Bangladeshi occasional anchor claimed, oddly, that a video game that Evseroff had worked on as a sideline had been about killing Muslims. The reality is that the game, Angry Brokers, taking place in financial capitals of the world, had levels set in New York, Tokyo and London, but not a single Muslim country. Choudhury’s complaints appeared baseless.
But Choudhury had spent years burnishing her career with anecdotes of discrimination in an industry where diversity matters and facts don’t. Not only was Evseroff an older white man being accused by a minority millennial woman, but Choudhury had the right politics and Evseroff didn’t.
Where Choudhury’s social media is full of attacks on President Trump, fake news about an imminent war with Iran, and attacks on another local radio station for describing Iranians as chanting, “Death to America”, Evseroff was an independent thinker in an industry increasingly turning into a political cult.
On September 11, 2019, a patriotic meme referencing Rep. Ilhan Omar’s disturbing claim that on 9/11 “some people did something” went viral. A variation of the meme appeared as a New York Post cover and it was posted by Republican organizations. Media outlets including the AP, CNN, CBS, NBC, and others posted images of the meme. At home, Evseroff reposted it on his own Facebook account.
Evseroff said that he shared it as a news story. That didn’t stop him from being fired when a complaint was made by another WPIX employee, even though he had not expressed an opinion about the meme, reposting it only because it was newsworthy, and had not violated any of WPIX’s written policies.
Only the unwritten ones.
As Ken battles WPIX and its corporate owner, Scripps Media, in court, the inescapable reality is that a journalist was fired for reposting a criticism of a politician. No WPIX employee has been sanctioned for criticism of President Trump. But criticism of a radical and racist Democrat became a firing offense.
The clash between Choudhury and Evseroff shines a light on cancel culture at work, especially in the fraught corporate workplaces of New York City, where the right left-wing political views are mandatory.
After Trump’s victory, some conservative employees working in New York City offices have described scenes of hysteria, weeping and cursing, and even violence, a pinata of Trump being whacked by employees with the enthusiastic support of corporate leadership. Those who don’t join in learn to keep quiet and avoid events and conversations that will require them to express a political opinion.
A generation of older white male employees whose hard work built up companies understand that they are targets, their every comment and expression scrutinized for signs of guilt. The accusations that destroy their careers and their lives are often false and frivolous. And there is no recourse for them.
Evseroff’s story isn’t new. What’s different is that, with the support of his lawyer, Andrew Laufer, he is fighting back. His lawsuit charges that WPIX violated its own policies in order to wrongly fire him.
Media bias is often recognized on the receiving end by viewers and readers. But Evseroff’s lawsuit reveals the media bias behind the scenes in the newsrooms and offices where the stories are made.
Both Choudhury’s biography and Evseroff’s firing are deeply revelatory about WPIX’s political culture.
Choudhury got her start at Boston U, traveling to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza and working on stories about the conflict. Her bio then goes on to boast that, "recently, Narmeen traveled to Bangladesh and covered the Rohingya refugee crisis." Despite working at a local New York station, what she appears to take pride in is exploiting WPIX to advocate for Islamic causes in this country and around the world.
Narmenn Choudhury has never hidden her bias or faced the consequences for overshadowing the story.
When writing about ad campaigns critical of Islamist violence by civil rights activist Pamela Geller, Choudhury described the ads as "littering our city buses." The unprofessional language was typical of the new WPIX which put political correctness above journalism.
Choudhury went to bat for a Muslim woman who shoplifted from Macy’s and blamed discrimination. Numerous Choudhury stories for WPIX promote hijabs, allegation of hate crimes, attacks on President Trump, Ted Cruz, the NYPD, and anyone warning about the threat of Islamic terrorism.
Meanwhile she ran a puff piece promoting anti-Semitic bigots Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory.
Ahmad Khan Rahami, the Chelsea bomber, was arrested for setting off pressure cooker bombs in New York and New Jersey, targeting a Marine Corps charity race and the Chelsea area.
"By nearly every account, Rahami was described as a nice guy," her news story described him.
This was the political culture at WPIX. And there is little doubt that it was tilted against Evseroff.
After three decades in broadcast journalism, Evseroff is rebuilding his life and fighting for justice. Today, he works as an anchor at New to the Street, and is determined to hold WPIX accountable.
"I've done nothing wrong and I don’t have one discriminatory bone in my body," he told Front Page Magazine. "I'm not a racist. I’m in the business of helping people through the power of respectable journalism."
But as cancel culture rages through the media, you don’t have to be a racist or do anything wrong.
All you have to do is become a target.