The Atlantic has confirmed a former New York Times editor’s viral story of once being scolded by colleagues at the paper for saying he likes Chick-fil-A, after one prominent New York Times reporter said the embarrassing anecdote was made up.

In a lengthy piece published earlier this week for The Atlantic, former New York Times opinion editor Adam Rubenstein revealed that a group of Times staffers were seemingly disgusted that he enjoyed the spicy chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A during an orientation for new hires. Rubenstein, who worked for the right-leaning Weekly Standard before joining the Times, told the story to illustrate the cultural divide he faced upon joining the liberal newspaper.

“The HR representative leading the orientation chided me: ‘We don’t do that here. They hate gay people.’ People started snapping their fingers in acclamation,” Rubenstein wrote. “I hadn’t been thinking about the fact that Chick-fil-A was transgressive in liberal circles for its chairman’s opposition to gay marriage. ‘Not the politics, the chicken,’ I quickly said, but it was too late. I sat down, ashamed.”

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Rubenstein’s piece put a spotlight on claims of liberal groupthink at the Times, where Rubenstein was employed until he resigned a few months after he was tasked with editing Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton’s op-ed suggesting the military could be deployed to quell urban riots during the summer of 2020. The Cotton op-ed set off an uproar among left-wing Times staffers who accused the article of putting Black staffers in danger and ultimately led to the resignation of then-opinion editor James Bennet.

Once the Chick-fil-A story went viral, Times staffers, including 1619 Project architect Nikole Hannah-Jones insisted it wasn’t true. 

“Never happened,” Jones posted on X in response to the story. 

When confronted about her accusation, the outspokenly progressive journalist replied, “I’ve worked at the NYT for nearly a decade. That’s how I know.”

Journalist Michael Hobbes also questioned Rubenstein’s piece. “Is anyone going to contact the Atlantic to ask them about the process behind publishing this egregiously fake anecdote,” he wrote. 

New York Magazine’s Sarah Jones sarcastically quoted an episode of The Simpsons to also suggest the story was a tall tale.

Another journalist, Bill Grueskin, also suggested it was made up, writing on X, “will swear on a stack of AP stylebooks that it is perfectly acceptable for editors, even at The Atlantic, to both fact-check first-person anecdotes and tell your readers you did that.” He later admitted “maybe this did happen” but still scolded the publication. 

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The Atlantic confirmed the veracity of the story in a statement.

“The entire piece was fact-checked, as is our standard policy. In reference to the opening paragraphs, the details were confirmed by New York Times employees who had contemporaneous knowledge of the incident in question,” an Atlantic spokesperson told Fox News Digital. 

Journalist Jesse Singal posted on X that for Hannah-Jones’s theory to be true “it would need to be the case that Rubenstein not only lied about this nonexistent event at the time, but somehow convinced other NYT employees that it happened, or to lie for him. Quite a conspiracy.”

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Rubenstein also reacted, “Of course the story is true,” as former colleagues doubted his claim. 

Several other journalists wrote on X that Rubenstein told them in 2019 about his experience, long before the Cotton episode and his exit from the newspaper, including the New York Post’s Jon Levine and The Free Press founder Bari Weiss, formerly of the New York Times.

Hannah-Jones did not immediately respond to a request for comment when reached by Fox News Digital

“Just show the fact-check document,” Hannah-Jones posted on X Tuesday. It’s unclear if she was specifically referring to the Chick-fil-A story. 

The fast-food chain has long been criticized by liberals over former CEO Dan Cathy’s views concerning gay marriage and Christian faith. Chick-fil-A did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Fox News Digital’s Nikola Lanum contributed to this report.