Prestigious medical journal editor forced to resign after tweet claiming ‘no doctor is racist’

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The editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) resigns after a tweet promoting a podcast questioning whether there is systemic racism in medicine sparked outrage on Twitter.

Dr. Howard Bauchner will resign from his job at the end of June, after ten years at the helm of the prestigious AMA magazine and its network of publications.

A statement released by BUT quotes Bauchner as saying he did not write the controversial tweet or play any role in creating the podcast that sparked the uproar.

“I remain deeply disappointed in myself for the errors that led to the publication of the tweet and podcast,” he said in the statement.

“While I didn’t write or even see the tweet or create the podcast, as editor-in-chief I am ultimately responsible for it.”

Dr.  Howard Bauchner (pictured in 2015) will retire from his job as editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association in late June after ten years at the helm of the prestigious publication

Dr. Howard Bauchner (pictured in 2015) will retire from his job as editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association in late June after ten years at the helm of the prestigious publication

Bauchner resigns after a Feb. 24 tweet promoting a podcast questioning whether systemic racism exists in medicine, sparking a harsh response on Twitter

Bauchner resigns after a Feb. 24 tweet promoting a podcast questioning whether systemic racism exists in medicine, sparking a harsh response on Twitter

On Feb. 24, a tweet from the magazine’s official account read: “No doctor is racist, so how can there be structural racism in healthcare?”

The tweet promoted a podcast episode featuring two white doctors discuss how structural racism worsens health outcomes and what health systems can do to address it, JAMA said in an online description.

However, it sparked outrage from other medical professionals, who called the tweet and podcast “criminal” and “terrible.”

The AMA’s chief equity officer, Dr. Aletha Maybank, who is black, called the JAMA tweet and podcast “absolutely awful.”

Edward Livingston

Dr Mitchell Katz

Billed as a discussion for skeptics, the podcast featured two white doctors: a deputy magazine editor, Edward Livingston (left) and Dr. Mitch Katz (right), a physician who runs a health system in New York City. “Structural racism is an unfortunate term,” Deputy Editor Livingston says in the podcast. “Personally, I think it helps to take racism out of the conversation. A lot of people like me are offended by the suggestion that we are racist in some way.”

The episode was removed from the JAMA Network website where the podcast was posted.  Bauchner posted a less than a minute audio clip in which he apologized.

The episode was removed from the JAMA Network website where the podcast was posted. Bauchner posted a less than a minute audio clip in which he apologized. “The podcast on structural racism based on the discussion between Dr Ed Livingston and Dr Mitchell Katz has been withdrawn,” Bauchner said in the clip. Comments in the podcast were inaccurate, insulting, hurtful and not up to JAMA standards

Dr. Brittani James, a black Chicago physician who co-founded the Institute for Anti-Racism in Medicine, accused the magazine of “white-splitting racism.”

Billed as a discussion for skeptics, the podcast featured two white doctors: a deputy magazine editor, Edward Livingston, and Dr. Mitch Katz, a physician who runs a health system in New York City.

Livingston argued that racism is illegal and a term that should be avoided because it evokes negative feelings.

“Structural racism is an unfortunate term,” Deputy Editor Livingston says in the podcast.

“Personally, I think it helps to take racism out of the conversation. A lot of people like me are offended by the suggestion that we are racist in some way.”

Livingston later resigned at Bauchner’s request, and JAMA created a new associate editor position for someone with expertise in healthcare racism.

On the JAMA Network website where the podcast was posted, the episode was pulled. Bauchner posted a less than a minute audio clip in which he apologized.

“The podcast on structural racism based on the discussion between Dr Ed Livingston and Dr Mitchell Katz has been withdrawn,” Bauchner said in the clip.

Comments in the podcast were inaccurate, abusive, hurtful and not up to JAMA’s standards.

The tweet and podcast episode sparked outrage among those who rejected the idea that the US medical community is devoid of structural racism

The tweet and podcast episode sparked outrage among those who rejected the idea that the US medical community is devoid of structural racism

“Racism and structural racism exist in the US and in healthcare.

“After careful consideration, I determined that the damage the podcast caused was greater than the reason the podcast remained available on the JAMA network.

“I apologize once again for the damage caused by this podcast and the tweet about the podcast.

“We are making changes that address such mistakes and prevent them from happening again.”

The Chicago-based American Medical Association owns and publishes JAMA, calling the podcast “wrong” and “harmful.”

It has no editorial control over JAMA’s content, but Bauchner reports to the oversight committee, a seven-member board. Six of the board members are white.

Katz released a statement in March saying, “Systemic and interpersonal racism both still exist in our country – they must be eradicated.

“I do not share the JAMA host’s belief that eliminating the word ‘racism’ will help us be more successful in ending inequality that exists across racial and ethnic lines.

Furthermore, I believe that we will only produce a just society if social and political structures do not continue to produce and perpetuate disparate outcomes based on social race and ethnicity.

“As I said on the podcast, if we want to eradicate structural racism, we must first recognize that it is real and take full responsibility for the racial injustices of our country’s past.

“Discriminating racist ideologies are still embedded in many societal systems and policies that continue to negatively impact all individuals, especially people of color in our country.

“As clinicians, we need to understand how these structures and policies have a direct impact on the health outcomes of the patients and communities we serve.

“That is why I firmly believe that both interpersonal and structural racism still exist in our country and it is sadly naive to say that no doctor is a racist just because the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade it.”

DailyMail.com has reached out to Livingston for comment.

JAMA’s editor in chief, Dr. Phil Fontanarosa, who will serve as interim editor-in-chief until a new editor is appointed, praised Bauchner for his “zeal, perseverance, fact-based approach and keen instincts.”

Fontanarosa said Bauchner was “committed to diversity, equality and inclusion.”

During his tenure at the helm of JAMA, the magazine has published “more than 650 articles on racial and racial and ethnic inequalities and inequalities over the past 5 years” and “the number of women, Asian, black and Hispanic members of the editorial boards and decision-making editors,” Fontanarosa wrote.

“It’s a reasonable first step, but it shouldn’t be seen as a mission accomplished,” Dr. Raymond Givens, a black cardiologist in New York, said Friday.

“He is an outspoken online critic of a lack of diversity among editors of JAMA and other leading medical journals.”

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