Talia Lavin, a former Jeopardy contestant and fact checker for the New Yorker, has resigned after publishing tweets attempting to paint Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Justin Gaertner as a Nazi. The combat veteran fought and served in the armed forces in Afghanistan, and was permanently crippled when he lost both his legs from an IED. Lavin’s tweets originally attempted to label him as a Nazi based on a tattoo he had, which she falsely identified as a Nazi Iron Cross.
In a series of tweets published on June 21st, 2018, Lavin – a now former fact-checker for the New Yorker – acknowledged the mistake, apologized, and stated that she had resigned. In a separate pinned tweet, she apologized again and also acknowledged her resignation.
To Justin Gaertner, I apologize, sincerely: all I saw in you was the photo ICE tweeted, and not the human being depicted inside it. It was uncharitable, and the hasty deletion doesn’t change that. I’m sorry and I have voluntarily resigned after three years at the New Yorker.
— Talia Lavin (@chick_in_kiev) June 23, 2018
Across a series of tweets, Lavin wrote…
“This has been a wild and difficult week. I owe ICE agent Justin Gaertner a sincere apology for spreading an rumor about his tattoo. However, I do not think it is acceptable for a federal agency to target a private citizen for a good faith, hastily rectified error.
“ICE also lied about me, saying I originated the scrutiny of Gaertner’s tattoo, misspelling my name, and misstating my job.
“I watched this become a story that spread from the National Review to the Daily Caller, NY Post, Daily Mail, all the way down to Tiger Droppings dot com.
“I also realized I had become a weapon used to discredit my colleagues and the vital work they do holding power to account.
“As a result, I have resigned after three years at the New Yorker. Thank you for your support in this difficult time.
“This has been painful and scary, and as I move into an uncertain and financially precarious future, I will be focusing on my writing and any other freelance work I can find.”
Lavin’s resignation came after ICE issued an official statement requesting a retraction after explaining that Justin Gaertner’s tattoo was actually a “Titan 2” symbol for the platoon he served with while in Afghanistan.
The Washington Times published ICE’s statement, along with the tweet they issued clarifying the matter.
— ICE (@ICEgov) June 18, 2018
If you’re unable to read the statement in the tweet, it reads…
“Justin Gaertner is a combat wounded U.S. Marine who continues to server his country as an ICE computer forensics analyst, helping to so solve criminal cases and rescue children who have been sexually abused. During one of three combat deployments, including two in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, where he served as a fire team leader and lead sweeper for IEDS, he was wounded by IEDS, resulting in the loss of both legs and other permanent injuries. He is a para-Olympic athlete who has volunteered his time to motivate other wounded warriors and Boston bombing victims.
“Over the weekend, social media perpetuated by a tweet by New Yorker reporter Talia [Lavin] erroneously implied that a tattoo on one of his arms was an Iron Cross and essentially labeled him a Nazi. [Lavin] deleted her post after military vetarans responded that the tattoo looked more like a Maltese cross, a symbol associated with fire fighters.
“Per Gaertner, the tatto on his left elbow is actually ‘Titan 2,’ the symbol for his platoon while he fought in Afghanistan. The writing on his right arm is the Spartan Creed[,] which is about protecting family and children.
“Anyone attempting to advance their personal political opinions by baselessly slandering an American hero should be issuing public apologies to Mr. Gaertner and retractions. This includes [Lavin] and the New Yorker.”
After ICE issued the statement and asked for corrections and retractions, some of the celebrities on social media who had been repeating and parroting Lavin’s tweet, such as veteran Liberal actor Ron Perlman, had to apologize for spreading the erroneous message about Gaertner being a Nazi.
My apologies! I mistook the symbol on this man’s arm before I actually knew the facts. So again, I apologize to the man in this picture for my mistake.
Maybe it was the gusto, the relish this agency seems to project in their obsession to racially profile decent people. https://t.co/7heFecxSY4
— Ron Perlman (@perlmutations) June 18, 2018
Talia Lavin targeting Justin Gaertner isn’t the first time she’s engorged on the gluttony of infamy with a canard. She previously targeted #GamerGate, claiming that the consumer revolt against unethical journalism was a misogynist campaign that led to two “mass murders”. The tweet was originally published on April 28th, 2018.
what did you think gamergate was?? it boggles my mind that it took you til 2018 to notice that men express inhuman loathing for women online. it has already led to 2 mass murders!
— Talia Lavin (@chick_in_kiev) April 28, 2018
#GamerGate was actually about exposing unethical journalists and getting outlets to improve their ethical standards, as well as to improve disclosures for paid content and promotional material so that gamers could make informed purchasing decisions. The hashtag campaign managed to work with the FTC and work towards improving disclosure standards across all of media, including YouTube, game reviews, and digital media coverage.
Now that Talia Lavin has resigned from the New Yorker, she claims that she’s open for freelance work and taking donations to stay financially afloat in the meantime.
(Thanks for the news tip Lyle)