Bari Weiss, the opinion columnist, resigned from the New York Times on Tuesday and posted her explosive resignation letter online where she cited bullying from coworkers, complacency from managers and a hostile work environment for a writer who “forays into Wrongthink.”
Weiss described a liberal hellscape where any outside thought from the left orthodoxy in the newsroom is not only discouraged but puts a career in jeopardy. Many on social media were not surprised. This is the paper where the “straight reporter” Maggie Haberman, the daughter of famed former New York Times scribe Clyde Haberman, uses Twitter to constantly berate the president who she covers.
The paper, which clings to the mantra, “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” also saw its top editorial page editor, James Bennet, resign in June after the op-ed page published a column by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who called on military intervention amid protests.
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A.G. Sulzberger, the paper’s 39-year-old publisher, called the Cotton article a “significant breakdown in our editing process.”
But if the paper could hide behind a standards breakdown in Bennet’s case, the Weiss letter appears to be far more damaging to the paper and its approach to journalism.
Helen Andrews, a senior editor at the American Conservative, tweeted that her general rule is “that public resignation letters should be avoided and are almost always bad when attempted, but this one is both well-executed and, under the circumstances, warranted.
Todd Starnes, the host of the “Todd Starnes Show,” called the Weiss letter a “devastating indictment on American journalism.”
Weiss said she experienced “constant bullying” from colleagues over her views and accused the paper of turning a blind eye to the harassment. She wrote to Sulzberger that some workers there “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.”
She wrote that social media should be on the paper’s masthead because it is the paper’s 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.”
Weiss wrote that her “forays into Wrongthink” have made her the subject of “constant bullying by colleagues” who called her a “Nazi and a racist.”
— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) July 14, 2020
Kathleen Kingsbury, the paper’s acting editorial page editor, said in a statement that she is personally committed that the paper continues to “publish voices, experiences and viewpoints,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Andrew Sullivan, the New York writer, who himself announced Tuesday that he was parting ways with the magazine, summed up Weiss’ note.
“The mob bullied and harassed a young woman for thoughtcrimes. And her editors stood by and watched,” he wrote.