Bari Weiss

On Tuesday, Bari Weiss, the op/ed staff editor and writer on culture and politics at The New York Times, announced that she resigned her post at the Gray Lady. 

Weiss is not a conservative. She identifies as a left-leaning centrist, which in the New York Times ethos she might as well said she was a conservative. 

Weiss posted her resignation letter to New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger on her website, and it is a must-read. 

She said the New York Times hired her to expand the opinion section of the paper to include first-time writers, centrists, conservatives, and others. Her role at the paper was in response to the New York Times getting the 2016 election wrong and realizing they were disconnected from the nation they covered. 

Weiss said the necessary lessons were not learned. 

“But the lessons that ought to have followed the election—lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned. Instead, 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,” she wrote.

Weiss said that Twitter became 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,” she explained. 

Weiss recounted the hostile work environment and bullying she received at The New York Times. She said Sulzberger and others at the paper praised her privately for her courage but allowed the mistreatment to continue. 

“Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery,” she wrote.

No, it should not.  

Weiss said that the environment at the New York Times has led to self-censorship. “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?” she asked. 

The New York Times now caters to a select group who desires to live in a silo. “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,” Weiss said. 

Read her whole letter here

It would be easy to cluck our tongues at what is going on at the New York Times, and the cultural left but I think we need to be diligent that we do not fall into the same trap.

The right is building its silos right along with the left. We have our own cancel culture as well. There are people on the right who flirt with illiberalism as well. We look for clickbait for articles that ravage candidates on the left.

A personal example, I encountered a former reader who decided to stop reading what I had to say because he disagreed with me on one particular topic (it was actually a mischaracterization of my opinion). We agreed largely on most everything else, but because of my opinion on a specific topic, I was unfollowed. Canceled. Now he certainly has the right to read or not read whatever he likes. His attitude, while anecdotal, reveals that we too can fall into that trap. I’ve run into people on the right who only read things they agree with or follow people who are aligned with them, and I’m sure you do as well. So those of us on the right are not immune. 

If I disagree with it, it must be fake news.

When we do this, we stop listening. We begin to think the worst of the other side. We are no longer challenged. We are disconnected. We no longer reason with one another and can’t find common ground. We don’t even try.

It’s not a healthy place to be as an individual or as a nation. 

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