“With those last three words, the Times lost its foothold for criticizing a politician for flip-flopping. In his initial assessment of the McNeil case, Baquet wrote, ‘It did not appear to me that his intentions were hateful or malicious.’ Now, suddenly, intent means nothing.” Donald McNeil, one of the key reporters on the pandemic, has been fired from the NYT for some comments he made during a trip with students in 2019. He had already been reprimanded. But when the story went public, the Times management changed its punishment. My gut tells me that this story would be getting a lot more attention if people weren’t generally afraid to discuss such topics these days. But based on the publicly available information, it’s worth asking if the punishment fits the crime. WaPo’s Erik Wemple: What happened with New York Times reporter Donald McNeil?