Former Times Ethicist Randy Cohen Considered Suing Hugo Lindgren

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Photo: Philip Maier/nytimes.com

When we reported back in February that New York Times Magazine "Ethicist" columnist Randy Cohen was leaving the gig he'd had for over a decade, it didn't seem like it was too contentious of a split. He was replaced quickly by new Times Mag editor Hugo Lindgren's friend Ariel Kaminer. But according to the Observer, there was some serious bad blood:

Mr. Cohen had been edited by Mr. Lindgren and called it "one of the best writer-editor relationships" he'd ever experienced, so it came as a shock that Mr. Lindgren would fire him. The only hints he'd had about any changes to the column were Mr. Lindgren's public statements about wanting to shake up the front of the book. "What I never anticipated was that he'd keep the column and kill the writer," Mr. Cohen said, over a beer at Dublin House on the Upper West Side. "Well, he didn't kill me, but," he tapped his chest, "inside he did. He hurt me very badly. "He said, 'Well, we thought we'd try it with a woman's voice, and we've narrowed it down to three possibilities and we're going to decide this weekend,'" Mr. Cohen said. "And my first thought was, 'Lawsuit.'"

A workplace lawyer told Cohen that a gender-discrimination suit wouldn't work in this particular case. So the writer, who said he didn't want the money but he did want his job back, was forced to move on. He's trying to sell a radio show called "A Question of Ethics," which involves advice and audience questions. "I'm disappointed this happened," he said. "I would have rather kept writing the column. But I don't think I was treated unjustly in any way."

That last comment led Observer writer Dan Duray to ask the obvious question. If he wasn't treated unjustly, then wouldn't a lawsuit be ... unethical? "Well, come on," Cohen shot back. "I'm not a saint."

What’s an Out-of-Work Ethicist to Do? Randy Cohen Seeks Refuge on the Airwaves [NYO]