Resignation letter: “Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space.”
Bari Weiss is a liberal columnist who just resigned from the NY Times. Her resignation letter has gone viral.
Weiss never was a good fit at the NY Times, just as Bret Stephens isn’t, because she is pro-Israel and speaks out against anti-Semitism at a paper that relentlessly pushes the false narrative of Palestinians as victims and Jews as oppressors in Israel and elsewhere. Those pro-Israel pro-Jewish stances were at the core of the hostility to her (in my opinion), or as she puts it in her resignation letter:
My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views. They have called me a Nazi and a racist; I have learned to brush off comments about how I’m “writing about the Jews again.”
The internal sniping at Weiss is no surprise to anyone who works on a campus. The unforgiving social justice warfare targeting dissident voices on campuses is present at the NY Times, imposing an intellectual homogeneity on writers, editors, and staff. Any conservative could have told you that, but Weiss had to come to the “water is wet” realization on her own.
Here are some key excerpts from the resignation letter addressed to publisher A.G. Sulzeberger:
… a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.
Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions….
I do not understand how you have allowed this kind of behavior to go on inside your company in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public. And I certainly can’t square how you and other Times leaders have stood by while simultaneously praising me in private for my courage. Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery.
Part of me wishes I could say that my experience was unique. But the truth is that intellectual curiosity—let alone risk-taking—is now a liability at The Times. Why edit something challenging to our readers, or write something bold only to go through the numbing process of making it ideologically kosher, when we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world? And so self-censorship has become the norm.
What rules that remain at The Times are applied with extreme selectivity. If a person’s ideology is in keeping with the new orthodoxy, they and their work remain unscrutinized. Everyone else lives in fear of the digital thunderdome. Online venom is excused so long as it is directed at the proper targets.
Op-eds that would have easily been published just two years ago would now get an editor or a writer in serious trouble, if not fired. …
The paper of record is, more and more, the record of those living in a distant galaxy, one whose concerns are profoundly removed from the lives of most people. This is a galaxy in which, to choose just a few recent examples, the Soviet space program is lauded for its “diversity”; the doxxing of teenagers in the name of justice is condoned; and the worst caste systems in human history includes the United States alongside Nazi Germany.
Even now, I am confident that most people at The Times do not hold these views. Yet they are cowed by those who do. Why? …. [P]erhaps it is because they know that, nowadays, standing up for principle at the paper does not win plaudits. It puts a target on your back. Too wise to post on Slack, they write to me privately about the “new McCarthyism” that has taken root at the paper of record.
All this bodes ill, especially for independent-minded young writers and editors paying close attention to what they’ll have to do to advance in their careers. Rule One: Speak your mind at your own peril. Rule Two: Never risk commissioning a story that goes against the narrative. Rule Three: Never believe an editor or publisher who urges you to go against the grain. Eventually, the publisher will cave to the mob, the editor will get fired or reassigned, and you’ll be hung out to dry….
There’s so much in that resignation that rings true to me, particularly the private messages of support from people afraid to speak up for fear of the online mob and career damage.
I was quoted in a Fox News story about Weiss:
While some were shocked by Weiss’ scathing letter, Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson feels anyone paying attention to the Gray Lady should have known the paper has a lefty agenda.
“Liberalism at the NY Times is illiberal and intolerant. Water also is wet. Bari Weiss confirms what conservatives already knew, but liberals like Weiss previously refused to see,” Jacobson told Fox News. “The vicious social justice warfare culture has moved from campus to newsrooms, and there is no place for old-fashioned liberals like Weiss.”
One mistake Weiss made was not writing the substance of her resignation as a column, putting the Times’ editors to the test (Alinsky Rule 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules”). It probably wouldn’t have made it past the editors, but it would have proven the point.
I’d never make it as a NY Times columnist, not that they would have me. For those of you who have been around here for a while, recall my 2010 post, Top 10 Reasons The NY Times Will Not Hire Me:
Here are the top 10 reasons The NY Times will not hire me:
10. Charles Blow Is The New Frank Rich
9. Count Frankula’s Blood Lust
8. Brooks Back On Board The Obama Ship Of State
7. Paul Krugman, The Series
6. Come And Get Your Unpaid NY Times Internship
5. NY Times Finds Something “Buried” So “Deep” I Posted About It Months Ago
4. NY Times: Anyone Who Disagrees With Us On Immigration Is A Racist Xenophobe
3. NY Times — The Orphan Who Killed Its Parents
2. Where Is The Video Of NY Times Editors Butchering The News?
and the Number 1 reason The NY Times will not hire me:
(The list was updated in 2017, Top 11 Reasons The NY Times Will Not Hire Me.)
The NY Times sounds like a horrible place to work. A place now run like modern campuses, where the most intellectually close-minded people pretend to be the most intellectually open-minded, and where they take out their life frustrations on others and call it social justice.
Bonus Question: Why should we think the NY Times news reporting culture is any better than its Opinion culture?
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