You repeat a misunderstanding of what “Affirmative Action” really does. You and others insist that “Affirmative Action” means “less qualified than White.” It does not. You have to be able to do the work. You have to meet basic job qualifications or you won’t go further in the interview process. There’s no such thing as “less qualified,” there is only “qualified” and “not qualified.”
When all things vis-a-vis demonstrating the baseline ability to fill a position are equal, then, anything legal goes in hiring. One can ask, as people in hiring positions often do, “Can I work with this person?” “Does he have contacts that can help my business?” These things have nothing to do with being “qualified,” yet, they are often the basis upon which people are hired over another candidate. You have some notion that “merit” is the only thing people in hiring consider. That’s wrong.
Affirmative Action encompasses many things. “Quotas” and “reverse discrimination” have become the headline for the fragile White person. However, Affirmative Action mostly requires employers to increase outreach to groups that previously suffered demonstrable discrimination in hiring. One is required to make concrete efforts to reach out to minorities, advertise positions in as many places as possible, make targeted recruitment programs.
So in the journalist’s case, the editors decided they needed writers who could speak to a growing trend and tap an online audience. That’s not “Affirmative Action,” that’s addressing a business need. Their motives may have been as cynical as the author assumes, I don’t know. I had a similar experience, but there was absolutely a justification for my paycheck. I was good.