Oops, Wrong Brown Guy: Salon Still Trying To Hide Embarrassing Silicon Valley Screw-Up

Salon columnist Sonia Saraiya admitted on Twitter that she made a mistake. She quietly fixed the mistake in her column. One of the people who first called out the mistake says that’s good enough and doesn’t want to pile-on. But for the sake of posterity, and more than a little helpful irony, the mistake should’ve received an official correction in the piece rather than just being fixed on the sly without any acknowledgement that it ever existed in the first place.

What was the mistake, exactly? Well, in a piece published at Salon last Friday, Saraiya accidentally got her brown actors confused. In an attempt to snidely scold HBO’s Silicon Valley for the lack of women in its cast, turning the clever Mike Judge comedy into just the latest target in Salon‘s ongoing and exhausting war against “retrograde” sexual and identity politics, Saraiya wrote that one of the show’s stars was also a regular on The Big Bang Theory. The problem: Kumail Nanjiani is on Silicon Valley and Kunal Nayyar is on The Big Bang Theory. Obviously, they’re not the same person.

It was Nanjiani, the actor who plays Dinesh on Silicon Valley, who first noticed the mix-up. His Salon-shaming tweet was kind of one for the ages.


From there, obviously, Twitter went crazy, with everyone Salon has ever arrogantly sat in judgment of — or everyone simply tired of Salon‘s perpetually outraged bullshit — lapping up all the sweet, sweet schadenfreude to be enjoyed at the notion of the website mistaking one brown person for another.

Sonia Saraiya did fix the piece and apologize for the mistake on Twitter.




Salon also apologized.

The thing is, while the piece was adjusted, there’s nothing posted at the bottom of it or within it acknowledging the mistake. Both Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon, asked that the public not pile-on Salon for the mix-up — Gordon even referenced that she’s currently reading Jon Ronson’s new book on the dangers of internet shaming — and just let the whole thing go. She did, however, suggest in a since-deleted tweet that a politically incorrect fuck-up like this be a lesson to Salon.

The recognition of the fact that it was Salon that made this mistake, though, is precisely why the site shouldn’t be able to get away with just quietly changing the piece’s copy and not formally acknowledging the accident somewhere on the same page. Imagine what Salon itself would write if another outlet had made the mistake of mixing up two brown faces within a story. There would be at least three pieces written about the screw-up, each more sanctimonious than the last. In fact, in Sonia Saraiya’s apology she still manages to conflate Nanjiani’s and Nayyar’s background, calling them both “Indian actor(s).” Only one of them is British-Indian, the other is Pakistani-American. Is this separate mistake a monumental deal? Probably not if you have a life. But in the world of Salon, where every little offense is worthy of cranking the outrage machine far past 11, it would be another example of the perils of white privilege and those dreaded microaggressions that so plague our culture.

This entire story is a big bunch of nothing, but if the shoe were on the other foot, there’s no way Salon would see it that way. And there’s no way it’s going to learn from this going forward. That’s why it matters that Sonia Saraiya’s story remain forever marked, so it serves as a reminder that sometimes a harmless oversight is just a harmless oversight and not an excuse for the torches and pitchforks to again be dragged out. Even the high and mighty Salon isn’t immune to that kind of thing.

Update:Salon has now placed a correction at the top of the piece.

Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.