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Editor of prestigious medical journal fired for denying that structural racism exists in medicine

‘Many of us are offended by the concept that we are racist’

A deputy editor of one of America’s most prestigious medical journals was fired over statements he made expressing skepticism about structural racism in medicine on a podcast that has since been deleted.

Activists called for a boycott against the Journal of the American Medical Association after Deputy Editor for Clinical Reviews and Education Edward H. Livingston, MD said that no physician was racist.

“Structural racism is an unfortunate term,” said Livingston on the podcast. “Personally, I think taking racism out of the conversation will help. Many of us are offended by the concept that we are racist.”

Editor-in-chief Howard Bauchner, MD, later apologized for the podcast and said that he had asked for and received Livingston’s resignation. Bauchner said the comments made on the podcast did not reflect the values of the American Medical Association.

“I take responsibility for these lapses and sincerely apologize for both the lapses and the harm caused by both the tweet and some aspects of the podcast,” said Bauchner.

James Ladara, MD, the CEO and EVP of the American Medical Association, released a statement on Wednesday announcing more fallout from the podcast.

We have heard from many in our physician community and beyond this past week who expressed anger, hurt, frustration and concern about a harmful podcast that was posted on the JAMA Network™ and the AMA Ed Hub™, along with the tweet that promoted it. They both minimized the effects of systemic racism in health care and questioned its profound impact on millions of people across our country.

Ladara made clear that the AMA endorsed the idea that structural racism exists in the U.S. and in medicine.

As physicians, and as leaders in medicine, we have a responsibility to not only acknowledge and understand the impact of structural racism on the lives of our patients, but to speak out against racial injustices wherever they exist in health care and society.

The AMA’s Journal Oversight Committee (JOC) has launched an investigation into how the podcast and associated tweet were developed, reviewed, and ultimately posted. This investigation and report will be conducted via our general counsel’s office and an independent outside counsel to ensure the integrity and objectivity of its findings. The JOC was established in 1999 as an independent governance body to ensure JAMA‘s editorial independence from AMA, its fiscal accountability, and the journalistic responsibility for JAMA and JAMA Network publications.

“Dr. Bauchner reports to the JOC,” Ladara added ominously.

Much of the uproar centered around the now-deleted tweet that quoted from the podcast.

“No physician is racist, so how can there be structural racism in health care? An explanation of the idea by doctors for doctors in this user-friendly podcast,” read the tweet.

Here’s an interview of Dr. Fauci with Bauchner: