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NY Times Columnist Bari Weiss Resigns: “Intellectual Curiosity… is Now a Liability”

NY Times Columnist Bari Weiss Resigns: “Intellectual Curiosity… is Now a Liability”

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.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5ELw11xPl8

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:

1. I’m Seething Over The NY Times Calling Me Seething

(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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Comments

I’m not buying the Captain Renault imitation, Bari Weiss. Every day, as you headed for the elevator bank, you passed this man’s Pulitzer, right there in the lobby,

https://www.google.com/search?q=Walter+Duranty&client=firefox-b-1-d&channel=tus2&sxsrf=ALeKk03xMXxzJwx94lEBJx-dvQgHTdmdxQ:1594769386151&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiQi4r28s3qAhUylnIEHYgvBV4Q_AUoAnoECCEQBA&biw=1194&bih=871

    Bari is a liberal, though she is open to other thought. Mildly.

    Who would hire this liberal, other than the GOP?

      henrybowman in reply to TheFineReport.com. | July 15, 2020 at 10:29 pm

      Why would the GOP hire her?
      Conservatives think in terms of “Road to Damascus” events causing “conversions.”
      Conversions are only possible if you first ascribe to a principle you can abandon for another.
      If Saul had been a modern leftist, he would have shaken off the road dust, regained his footing, and headed off in another direction promising a lower incidence of divine intervention.

It’s nice somebody is calling the NYT out, but it was all very obvious. You’d have to be pretty thick to miss it.

As for the letter release, it strikes me mostly as self-promotion for her next job, as these things go. Lefty criticizes lefties gets her hired somewhere for the novelty.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to rhhardin. | July 14, 2020 at 9:39 pm

    “Charles Blow Is The New Frank Rich”

    That is Charles Blowhard. He knows how to spin a false narrative, but completely lacks any critical thinking or reasoning skills. It is amazing how much bullshit he can shovel while saying nothing of merit.

    henrybowman in reply to rhhardin. | July 15, 2020 at 10:30 pm

    “You’d have to be pretty thick to miss it.”

    So then, an object lesson to other journalists, at the very least.

The rule for leaving jobs is have only nice things to say about your old job. Your next prospective employer will be thinking that you’ll be saying the same thing about him someday.

It also avoids self-righteousness, which is a character plus.

    Neo in reply to rhhardin. | July 14, 2020 at 9:11 pm

    It’s pretty obvious to me that she is trying to “switch sides” at least for the purpose of being employed.

      JusticeDelivered in reply to Neo. | July 14, 2020 at 9:41 pm

      I welcome those who want to switch sides, we need all of them we can get.

        henrybowman in reply to JusticeDelivered. | July 15, 2020 at 10:34 pm

        If it involved the same singlemindedness, expense, time, dedication, and (to some extent) irrevocability as switching genders, I might. But talk… talk is cheap.

      I don’t think so. She seems to be a left-wing writer who is convinced there is an opening for her to keep her worldview intact and still have free speech (for herself, at least).

      Spoiler alert: Communism is a jealous god that allows no dissent. Period. There is no place for her to stand anymore.

      amatuerwrangler in reply to Neo. | July 15, 2020 at 12:22 am

      This little lady needs to mosey on over to The New Neo and settle in with the “A mind is a difficult thing to change..” thread. [Its in the right column at the top of “categories”]

      It might settle her down so she can re-boot, so to speak.

Thanks for confirming what we already knew.

    DaveGinOly in reply to Exiliado. | July 14, 2020 at 10:32 pm

    Really. Conservatives have been saying for decades, “The media is biased in favor of the Left.” So it’s no surprise that the Left is now the media and the media is the Left. It doesn’t take a tour of duty at the NYT to figure that out. Just read their output of both news and opinion. Only now the generation that grew up in a virtual space in which you could insult, demean, and attack people without consequence are now in the work force, and have brought their social media manners into the real world and are doing real damage.

LukeHandCool | July 14, 2020 at 7:51 pm

Sounds like Andrew Sullivan is basically being forced out at NY Magazine, also.

A bit ironic, since Sullivan once called Weiss an “unhinged Zionist.”

It doesn’t matter if one is left of center. The crazy woke hordes are coming for everybody even slightly to their right (which means everyone outside the woke tribe).

This will make the NYT even more ideologically homogeneous and alien to almost all Americans who are not rabidly partisan news junkies.

I think centrists and independents will become even more uneasy with the left and the Democratic Party over which they hold disproportionate sway.

JackinSilverSpring | July 14, 2020 at 8:03 pm

What Ms. Weiss has finally realized is that her employer has metamorphosed into Izvestia (news) on the Hudson, which prints all the fake news that fits its views, especially if Trump it screws. There is definitely no pravda (truth) in Izvestia.

Tech is the same way. I got out four years ago next month for similar reasons. This was before Trump being elected and the left going into perpetual melt down mode. I had an otherwise very successful 20+ year career until right around 2013 – the start of Obama’s second term when he was off leash. The organization actively told us that they were seeking these types to recruit. My contacts in other companies saw the same thing. It was such a PC cesspool that I had to leave. My life has been a meat wreck since and my retirement is at risk, but I no longer have to walk into that insanity on a daily basis.

    krink26 in reply to krink26. | July 14, 2020 at 8:25 pm

    Not meat – near wreck

    Good going. When the career that fed me became more and more political – even 20 years ago – I retired – at the ripe old age of 43. Wife loved her job in education – so I became a house hubby – worked some odd jobs for extra money. Lived simply – made us happy. Couldn’t sell my soul any longer. Even back then “group think” was running amok – a subject matter expert lost all autonomy and had to yield to committees and consensus – which were mostly filled by do nothings. More and more HR meetings and training sessions – ethics and sensitivity stuff … bah.

    Rural midwest was a culture shock for me – but offered a lifestyle consistent with our income – and family / community. In hindsight, I’m glad for all of it – I really didn’t much like myself as a cube-rat for a big corporation. Unwilling to kiss a$$ I was never going to move up anyway.

Dantzig93101 | July 14, 2020 at 9:25 pm

Intellectual curiosity only became a liability when the tiger turned toward her for its next meal.

Welcome to “the alt-right,” Bari! It’s a big tent for all kinds of people.

RightStuff1944 | July 14, 2020 at 9:40 pm

It goes something like this: 1. disinformation, 2. demoralization, 3. destabilization, and 4. destruction. The enemies of liberty just can’t stand peace and prosperity. There just isn’t enough “equality”!

Is it an old fashioned notion that having now admitted to being an active part of an abusive operation that an apology is in order? Any ‘contrition’ from her at all? I looked but didn’t see any.

    She’s like a liberal running away from NY or CA after helping to make them hellholes, only to perpetuate her liberalism – and destroying – in the new, functioning place she moves to.

    Liberals are poison. They always have communism in tow.

They are playing “who’s the better fascist?”
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    henrybowman in reply to ghost dog. | July 15, 2020 at 11:07 pm

    I’ve always loved this slogan, because at least the first two categories are virulent hotbeds of socialism that frankly I’d be going after myself, and many people would argue the same for the third (not me, but I do admit many of the historical coincidences).

CapeBuffalo | July 15, 2020 at 2:56 am

We have entered the third stage of the Lefts “Final Solution “. They are beginning to eat their own, it is the time of power consolidation , reminiscent of Snowball being “removed “ from Animal Farm! Hopefully we won’t have to endure the final stage.

I wouldn’t read the NY Times if I could get it for free. And Charles Blow is a perpetually aggrieved bore.

I think it is easier to think of the NYT as a cult. It has an iron orthodoxy scrupulously followed, tight disciple, speaks with one voice, straying from its tenets is punished, and there is an us-versus-them world view. The headquarters, with far-flung missions to convert unbelievers given deeply discounted prices to be indoctrinated, is in a decaying city of increasing illiteracy. Karachi comes to mind. The heretics with the means are getting out a before the cult convinces a compliant mayor that its editorials should be broadcast three times a day over loudspeakers like muezzin’s cry.

Professor Jacobsen:

Perhaps she is simply trying to get ahead of the news about the time she was the editor who received the illegal FISA information leak from James Wolfe. I think her little self-serving letter is much more sinister than it appears.

Why did it. take her so long to learn her lesson. The Times has been virulently anti-Israel even before the existence of Israel. The first Sulzberger (who got the Times by marrying Adopt Ochs’ daughter was one of the German-Jewish elite hostile to Zionism from the start. And one of the corollaries of this anti-Zionism was the Times’ deliberate–as has been fully documented–suppression of news about the Holocaust.

Phillygirl1807 | July 15, 2020 at 1:35 pm

We stopped getting the Sunday NY Times years ago because of s Roger Cohen’s “hate Israel” columns. We recently stopped delivery of the Washington Post because nearly every article in every section of the paper had an anti-Trump angle. The Post used to be middle-of-the-road, especially within the editorial pages. No longer. I don’t watch the news much anymore either. Too difficult to endure. I’m perplexed about what is happening in our country – its like another Civil War. Now no one can simply agree to disagree. Sad.

rangerrebew | July 17, 2020 at 2:11 pm

Intellectual curiosity is a liability? Democrats can’t afford people with intellectual anything. As Jefferson noted, a republic can’t exist with an ignorant population so why would democrats, who are trying to overthrow liberty and the Constitution, want people with intellectual anything? People who can think for themselves, and are willing to do so, are an absolute threat to them.

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