Bari Weiss Is A Ridiculous Person
In an interview that by all rights should have only ever been aired in the eighth circle of hell, Brian Stelter spoke to Bari Weiss this weekend on CNN about how Bari Weiss and her opinions and favorite news stories are being censored by outlets like CNN.
Weiss, who left the New York Times last year to do Substack, shared her frustration that outlets like CNN and the New York Times did not cover theories, then-unconfirmed stories and opinions personally held by Bari Weiss as absolute fact. Somehow this is censorship.
Stelter, referencing the "about" page for Weiss's Substack newsletter, asked her in what ways she thinks the world has "gone mad." Weiss passionately listed all the ways she believes the world has "gone mad," which is a good way to make a bunch of disparate and not very serious things sound very related and very serious.
Let's break it down, shall we?
WEISS: Where can I start? Well, when you have the chief reporter on the beat of COVID for The New York Times talking about how questioning or pursuing the question of the lab leak is racist, the world has gone mad.
Two words: Judith and Miller. OK fine, those are technically not words, but some might say it is a good thing that the New York Times is not reporting on theories as if they are facts, especially theories that remain extremely unlikely.
The reason it strikes many people as racist is because that seems like the most likely explanation for why people are frothing at the mouth to have an unfounded and, again, extremely unlikely, theory covered by the legitimate press. In fact, the theory has probably given far more credulity than it should have been, including at CNN. It would be highly unusual for people to be that invested in an unfounded theory like that without some kind of agenda.
WEISS: When you're not able to say out loud and in public there are differences between men and women, the world has gone mad.
What? Is she planning on issuing a new version of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus sometime soon?
Bari Weiss loves to talk about "nuance." I, too, am a big fan of nuance. That is why I don't make sweeping statements about how men are like this but women are like this. That is why most people with a brain in their head just don't really do that anymore. We talk about how those assigned as male or female at birth are socialized differently, we talk about how there are different standards for men and women that are often very crappy. But Weiss is clearly only interested in stereotypes, which are boring and nuance-free.
WEISS: When we're not allowed to acknowledge that rioting is rioting and it is bad and that silence is not violence, but violence is violence, the world has gone mad.
Oh yeah, nowhere did we hear anything in the summer of 2020 about how rioting is bad. Not once, ever.
Of course, the vast majority of Black Lives Matter protests were entirely peaceful, but the media focus was primarily on the ones that briefly turned violent (sometimes due to Trump supporters and other right-wing agitators). It was a whole ass summer of nominally liberal people having their varied and sundry Sister Souljah moments condemning the rioting and looting, and a few people here and there saying things like "Well, that is what happens when you just decide to ignore police brutality for literal decades. Maybe if we had started doing the gentle police reform the reasonable crowd loves to talk about after Rodney King, things would not have blown up the way they did."
WEISS: When you're not able to say the Hunter Biden laptop is a story worth pursuing, the world has gone mad.
There is a difference between pursuing a story and publishing a story before it has been properly vetted. Duh.
WEISS: When, in the name of progress, young school children, as young as kindergarten, are being separated in public schools because of their race, and that is called progress instead of segregation, the world has gone mad.
Where? I searched and searched and was able to find exactly two examples somewhere in the ballpark of this story. One involved seventh and eighth grade students who, for one year, at one private school in New York City with about 80 students, were separated by race for part of the day, so that the few Black children attending the school did not always have to be the only Black person in their class. Another involved a couple of diversity meetings at one magnet school in Jacksonville to discuss recent issues that had come up at the school. Both made headlines everywhere, so clearly people were "allowed" to talk about them.
I hate to give Brian Stelter credit for anything, but he did ask Weiss who it was that was silencing "these conversations."
"People who work at networks, frankly, like the one I'm speaking on right now, to say it was racist to investigate the lab leak theory," said Weiss, unaware, apparently, that she had literally just been talking about it on CNN.
"Who said that at CNN? When you say 'allowed,' it's a provocative thing to say," Stelter said. "You say we're not allowed to talk about these things but they're all over the Internet ... I've heard about every story that you've mentioned."
But you and I both know that it would be delusional to claim otherwise that touching your finger to an increasing number of subjects that have been deemed third rail by the mainstream institutions and increasingly by some of the tech companies, will lead to reputational damage, perhaps you losing your job, your children sometimes being demonized as well, so what happens is a kind of internal self-censorship.
Weiss claimed that she saw this firsthand with her fellow New York Times op-ed columnists, whom she claimed were tailoring their own work to not run afoul of the "Twitter mob." To be fair, that really is some truly disturbing news. If we're getting the self-censored versions of Ross Douthat and David Brooks, I'd hate to imagine what they are hiding.
There is another term for "internal censorship," by the way. It's called "having manners." Not every act needs to be taken on the road and not everything needs to be said out loud, on Twitter, on television or in a room full of people. There are things you can say to your friends that you probably shouldn't say to your Aunt Gladys. There are things you may think that you should not say out loud.
Weiss's problem, quite frankly, is that she's a hypocrite. She's mad people don't write the stories she wants them to write, and insists this must be done out of fear rather than disinterest, or, godforbid, not agreeing with her. If those stories are covered and the public fails to react to them the way she would like them to, she thinks that means the stories are being silenced. She really believes free speech is threatened by those she considers "the wrong people" using their freedom of speech to say what they believe, rather than what Bari Weiss believes.
It must be very psychologically upsetting to believe that everyone secretly believes the same thing as you but is afraid to say it out loud. I really mean that. As someone who is pleasantly surprised by anyone not thinking she is nuts, I can't even begin to imagine what that is like. It's probably torture.
I hope Bari Weiss finds peace and fulfillment, perhaps by doing something other than going from television show to to television show to complain about how she is being silenced.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse