Bari Weiss Self-Deports From New York Times

Bari Weiss has left the New York Times. Yay! However, like the evil mayor on “Buffy" who made everyone listen to his entire graduation speech before killing them, Weiss has released a very long, tedious, Sturm-und-Drang-filled resignation letter that I guess I'll read.

Dear A.G.,

“A.G." is A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher of the Times. Not to veer into a tangent over the paper's organizational structure, but why is Weiss resigning directly to the publisher? Maybe her actual boss was too busy singing “Happy Days Are Here Again."

I was hired with the goal of bringing in voices that would not otherwise appear in your pages:

You mean idiots? Then yes, the Times's affirmative action program for morons worked splendidly.

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.

This is such bullshit. Weiss grew up in a well-off Pittsburgh suburb. She attended a fancy private school and graduated from Columbia University. OK, she didn't spend her summers at socialist summer camps, but otherwise she's exactly who you'd expect the Times to hire. If Donald Trump's election caught the paper flat-footed, it should've hired more Black people — who knew all along Trump could win — or at least actual drooling, conspiracy theorist Trump supporters. As VOX noted in 2018, the Times still presents a PG-13, Aaron Sorkin-like version of conservatism, which doesn't reflect the larger GOP base.

Weiss accuses Twitter of being the “ultimate editor" at the Times (eye roll emoji, please). She then complains that she was brought in to disrupt the apparent status quo but yet wasn't warmly embraced. Any Black person who's been the first to join a predominantly white space could tell her to toughen up and deal, but she was triggered on day one.

My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views.

Yeah, no one likes you. Sorry. That's what happens when you live-tweet internal staff meetings.

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.

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.

I'm not a legal expert either, but I do think you're supposed to at least document and escalate concerns to Human Resources first before just quitting like a quitter who quits. If Weiss can allegedly “call the manager" on someone for not having coffee with her, it seems unlikely that she wouldn't report “unlawful discrimination."

Weiss is charging the Times with arson, murder, and jaywalking, and it's grossly unprofessional to do so unless she tried to resolve the issue internally. “Constructive discharge" implies she was "subjected to retaliation, harassment or discriminatory conduct." That's a high bar.

It's infuriating to see a professional contrarian and supposed “free speech absolutist" like Weiss co-opt all the safe space and triggered terminology the Right normally hates. I worked at newspapers and magazines in the 1990s. They were tough rooms. Weiss somehow expected "Mister Rogers's Centrist Neighborhood."

But the truth is that intellectual curiosity—let alone risk-taking—is now a liability at The Times.

Then quit. Oh, wait, you have.

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?

Yes, another “campus Left gone wild" article is more pressing than covering the shenanigans of a wannabe despot, mob boss president.

New York Times

When people were losing their jobs and confined to their homes, someone at the Times thought, "Hey, let's have Bari talk to Joe Rogan!" OK, maybe that is a hostile work environment.

What rules that remain at The Times are applied with extreme selectivity. If a person's ideology is in keeping with the new orthodoxy, they and their work remain unscrutinized. Everyone else lives in fear of the digital thunderdome. Online venom is excused so long as it is directed at the proper targets.

This is more crap. Pulitzer Prize winner Nikole Hannah-Jones was dogpiled on Twitter not just by conservatives but Republican politicians. Jamelle Bouie's work is a constant source of conservative invective.

Weiss laments how hard it is to pitch pieces that don't promote “progressive causes," but it's not like she sat in a corner writing screenplays for wrestling pictures. She's also still real mad that the Times ran a “fawning interview" with Alice Walker, who has “racially charged" views about Jews. Weiss lacks the self-awareness, apparently, to consider that her interview with Rogan was equally "fawning." She paints him as bravely risking a week's worth of “bad press" to promote his garbage transphobic views.

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. This is a galaxy in which, to choose just a few recent examples, the Soviet space program is lauded for its "diversity"; the doxxing of teenagers in the name of justice is condoned; and the worst caste systems in human history includes the United States alongside Nazi Germany.

Weiss slimes Sophie Pinkham for acknowledging the demographic reality of the Soviet space program, and calls out Isabel Wilkerson — the first Black woman to win a Pulitzer — for her piece about America's own racial caste system. The “doxxing of teenagers" is another tiny violin solo about the Covington Catholic kids. It's repulsive to imply that these views, no matter how controversial Weiss finds them, originate from a “distant galaxy."

Conservatives, naturally, mourned the loss of Weiss from a paper they otherwise hate.


Meghan McCain believes she's the “only Republican in mainstream media," so maybe she also assumes that Weiss was the only center-right columnist at the Times. There's David Brooks, Bret Stephens, and Ross Douthat. Those are a lot of conservatives for a New York-based publication. It's not as if Angela Davis has a regular column at one of those conservative papers that endorsed Trump.

If Megs wants to criticize media outlets for a lack of “diversity of thought," she should start with Fox News or even her own publication-in-law, the Federalist. Conservatives such as David Frum and Tom Nichols were banished from Fox and much of right-wing media because they opposed Trump. Most of the Lincoln Project would be street musicians now if supposed “liberal" outlets (The Atlantic, MSNBC) didn't give them work.

Weiss resents that views she doesn't share are becoming mainstream. She resents the changing world. She thinks that makes her a victim. She's wrong.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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