“Nowadays, standing up for principle at the paper does not win plaudits,” Weiss states in her letter of resignation.
Popular American-Jewish journalist Bari Weiss, author of the award-winning book How to Fight Anti-Semitism, has resigned from The New York Times, blasting the paper for what appears to be a lack of integrity and for allowing Twitter to “become its ultimate editor.”
According to Weiss, “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.”
In the resignation letter, Weiss, who in January addressed the “No Hate. No Fear” rally against anti-Semitism at New York City’s Times Square, where she said she was a “proud American,” a “proud New Yorker,” and a “proud Jew,” describes a “bullying” environment at the Times.
“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 pro-Israel writer says.
“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,” she continues.
“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.
“There are terms for all of this: unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge. I’m no legal expert. But I know that this is wrong.”
Revealing what appears to be hypocrisy at the Times, she says:
“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.”
Furthermore, “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…
“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. If a piece is perceived as likely to inspire backlash internally or on social media, the editor or writer avoids pitching it. If she feels strongly enough to suggest it, she is quickly steered to safer ground. And if, every now and then, she succeeds in getting a piece published that does not explicitly promote progressive causes, it happens only after every line is carefully massaged, negotiated and caveated.”
The ‘New McCarthyism’
Weiss charges that 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.”
“Standing up for principle at the paper does not win plaudits,” Weiss says. Others there agree with her, she explains, but “too wise to post on Slack, they write to me privately about the ‘new McCarthyism’ that has taken root at the paper of record.”
She finds it “heartbreaking” that there are still talented journalists at the Times but they work in an “Illiberal environment.”
“I can no longer do the work that you brought me here to do—the work that [NYT former owner] Adolph Ochs described in that famous 1896 statement: “to make of the columns of The New York Times a forum for the consideration of all questions of public importance, and to that end to invite intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion.”
Ochs’s idea is one of the best I’ve encountered. And I’ve always comforted myself with the notion that the best ideas win out. But ideas cannot win on their own. They need a voice. They need a hearing. Above all, they must be backed by people willing to live by them.”