The Guardian has removed a post about Lisa Bonchek Adams, a woman who has been tweeting her experiences with stage 4 breast cancer, after it and a related piece in The New York Times ignited a firestorm of online criticism.
The Atlantic’s Megan Garber describes the two pieces — one, by Emma Keller, and the other by her husband Bill Keller, former executive editor of The New York Times — this way:
[The] pair of opinion pieces—Bill’s, in The New York Times, and Emma’s, in the Guardian—…assess the ethical dimensions of talking about cancer. Both Kellers tell the story of a woman named Lisa Bonchek Adams, who has stage 4 breast cancer and has been tweeting and blogging her experience. (Bill learned about her from Emma; they’re married.) Both Kellers are concerned about Adams—but also, and sometimes seemingly more so, about her tweets. Bill frets about Adams’s “decision to live her cancer onstage,” Emma about her own “voyeurism” toward Adams’s cancer tweets. Both do so in a way that is fairly patronizing both to Adams and to her cancer. Call it cansplaining.
At 12:40 p.m. Eastern today, Garber appended a note to her story saying the Guardian piece had been taken down, and this explanation posted:
This post has been deleted with the agreement of the subject because it is inconsistent with the Guardian editorial code.
That message has since been replaced with:
This post has been removed pending investigation.
The newspaper told iMediaEthics:
Following an investigation by the Guardian’s independent readers’ editor, we have removed the article in question from our website because it is inconsistent with the Guardian editorial code. This decision was taken with the agreement of Lisa Adams.
iMediaEthics also reports:
Before the post was unpublished, Keller posted an update confessing that she cited her private e-mails with Adams in her post. The update said she failed to let Adams know “about the article and should have told her that I planned to quote from our conversations,” The Nation’s Greg Mitchell noted. That update read:
“Since this article was published two days ago, there’s been a lot of negative comment on Twitter and below the line. Lisa Adams herself was upset by it. I had been in communication with her a number of times in recent weeks; given her health, I could have given her advance warning about the article and should have told her that I planned to quote from our conversations. I regret not doing so.”
Hat tip: John Novack