Well, I think that the Times is so committed to the idea of "diversity" as in diversity-at-a-glance, that they will automagically fall for anything that promotes a member of a minority group, and/or debases the memory of a key member of the traditional Establishment.
The irony is that the Times's own raace relations are disastrous... for one thing, individuals are seen as if the most important thing about them is their membership in a group. That Jayson Blair was a member of a group teh Times management wants to promote, to them, trumped all those little indicators of his character: the lying, the cheating on expences, the drug use. The really sad part of it is, that because they only see people based on group-membership, the next young black reporter to apply will meet the same insultingly low expectations that Blair did. Meanwhile the predominantly white (& disproportionately Jewish) editorial staff will be thinking what they don't dare say, "well, we can't expect much from one of 'them' because Blair showed us what 'they' are like."
Of course, it's a crock, but it's really how people who see the world through a prism of racism (benevolent no less than hostile) think.
Every once in a while the Time mentions some institution that doesn't have "enough" of some minority or other. They often compare the targeted institution to the military, where race relations are simply not much of an issue. They miss the point completely, because the Army, for instance, can do things employers can't do: conduct extensive pre-employment testing, and assign and train people strictly on their abilities without regard to superficialities. Black soldiers aren't resentful, because they know that they are assigned and promoted with scrupulous fairness. White soldiers serve confidently under black officers because they know that the officers met every standard every inch of the way. While a Jayson Blair can keep screwing up and go unpunished, a soldier can't hide behind his race or anything else: I saw a promising black colonel thrown out for a serious ethical lapse, and a white guy whose father was one of the legendary combat leaders in the history of the Army tossed out when he didn't measure up. If you have standards, race becomes a non-issue. But meaningful standards are forbidden to many civilian employers.
Compare the Army way to the NYT newsroom under Gerald Boyd, a man of limited ability who was put into a position of power because Punch and Raines wanted a black face and he was available.
The Sally Hemings story is of interest to these people, because the only thing in their world that matters is the part of your DNA that is similar to others from your own continent or geographical area. While racial differences are interesting to study, they are not proof of anything about specific human beings. Which is why conservatives, who see people as individuals, tend to be less focused on race (and indeed, less racist) than liberals, who define people based on involuntary group-membership.
Criminal Number 18F