Justice: NY Mag Fact-Checker Out of a Job After Calling Marine's Tattoo 'Nazi'


It looks like justice has been served: the New Yorker fact-checker who labeled a wounded Marine veteran and Immigration and Customs Enforcement employee a Nazi because of his tattoo has resigned.

This resignation comes after Talia Lavin sent out a tweet accusing Justin Gaertner, ICE forensics analyst and Marine veteran, of having a Nazi tattoo on his elbow.

“To Justin Gaertner, I apologize, sincerely: all I saw in you was the photo ICE tweeted, and not the human being depicted inside it,” her tweet read. “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.”

Last week, Lavin’s accusatory tweet was posted in response to ICE’s May 25 tweet and photo of Gaertner at work, with his tattoo partially in view. ICE’s tweet was intended to promote and provide information about the Human Exploitation Rescue Operative Child Rescue Corps.

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“Learn more about HERO Child-Rescue Corps, a program for wounded, injured & ill Special Ops Forces to receive training in high-tech computer forensics & law enforcement skills, to assist federal agents in the fight against online child sexual exploitation,” ICE’s tweet read.

Lavin took it upon herself to reply with her since-deleted tweet, drawing focus away from ICE’s important message and instead strongly implying that the cross on the agent’s elbow was the Nazi’s Iron Cross.

But much to the fact-checker’s dismay, Gaertner’s cross tattoo is actually called “Titan 2” and is the symbol for his platoon when he was serving in Afghanistan.

“Over the weekend, social media perpetuated by a tweet by New Yorker reporter Talia Levin [sic] erroneously implied that a tattoo on one of [Gaertner’s] arms was an Iron Cross and essentially labeled him a Nazi,” ICE wrote in a statement. “Levin deleted her post after military veterans responded that the tattoo looked more like a Maltese cross, a symbol associated with fire fighters.”

“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 Levin [sic] and the New Yorker,” ICE continued.

According to the National Review, the New Yorker issued a statement on Monday, June 18, “distancing themselves” from their employee.

“The New Yorker has just learned that a staff member erroneously made a derogatory assumption about ICE agent Justin Gaertner’s tattoo,” a spokesman said. “The personal social-media accounts of staff members do not represent the magazine, and we in no way share the viewpoint expressed in this tweet. The tweet has been deleted, and we deeply regret any harm that this may have caused Mr. Gaertner.”

Last Thursday, Lavin blamed ICE for targeting her “for a good faith, hastily rectified error,” the Tampa Bay Times reported.

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“This has been a wild and difficult week,” Lavin said in the tweet according to the Tampa Bay Times. “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.”

It’s important to note that Lavin is a blue checkmark verified Twitter user and a journalist, therefore she probably is not considered a “private citizen.”

Fox News added that Lavin said she was targeted by ICE because of her background and she “was also a useful foil: a fat Jewish feminist with a Harvard education. ICE said I ‘baselessly slandered an American hero,’ artificially pitted me against a disabled veteran, and engineered a conservative news cycle in which I was a villain.”

This just goes to show, fact-checkers caught in a lie will eventually be shown the truth and will face the consequences for spreading fake news.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith