The New York Times was cancelled on Tuesday by one of its brightest stars.
Bari Weiss was an editor on the paper’s Op-Ed page, which is called that not only for its physical location in the paper being opposite the Editorial Page, but because the page should include voices and opinions opposite to what readers would find elsewhere in the paper.
Tuesday Weiss published on her blog her resignation letter, which had choice language for her colleagues and bosses — including the publisher A.G. Sulzberger, 39, who is great-great-grandson of Adolph Ochs, the founder of the paper.
I joined the paper with gratitude and optimism three years ago. I was hired with the goal of bringing in voices that would not otherwise appear in your pages: first-time writers, centrists, conservatives and others who would not naturally think of The Times as their home. The reason for this effort was clear: The paper’s failure to anticipate the outcome of the 2016 election meant that it didn’t have a firm grasp of the country it covers. Dean Baquet and others have admitted as much on various occasions. The priority in Opinion was to help redress that critical shortcoming.
Obviously, the Times leadership gave up taking the pulse of the “other America” in trying to understand 2020 election. However Weiss didn’t get that memo. It goes on.
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 was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative.
The 36 year-old writer just lived through the definition of a scapegoat by the Grey Lady’s upper management.
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.
It’s pretty clear that Weiss, who also wrote about culture and politics for the paper, was targeted by the ultra progressives for giving voice to alternative ideas that would have been considered centrist a year ago.
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.” Several colleagues perceived to be friendly with me were badgered by coworkers. My work and my character are openly demeaned on company-wide Slack channels where masthead editors regularly weigh in. There, some coworkers insist I need to be rooted out if this company is to be a truly “inclusive” one, while others post ax emojis next to my name. Still other New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action. They never are.
This should be a “woke up” moment for publisher Sulzberger and Executive Editor Dean Baquet, but it won’t be. They are too invested in the anti-Trump movement to even consider alternative views.
However the readers of the paper ought to take notice that they are getting a lot less than “all the news that fit to print.”