Bari Weiss announced on Tuesday that she is leaving the New York Times, citing an “illiberal” environment, and confirming in an interview with Vice that she has “self-expelled.” Weiss joined the company in 2017 as a staff writer and editor for the “Opinion” section. Weiss resigned in a lengthy letter to the paper’s publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, which she shared on her website on its very own tab. “Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times,” Weiss writes. “But Twitter has become its ultimate editor.”
From Weiss’s letter:
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.” 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.
Weiss describes these experiences as “unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge.” She references a recent op-ed by Senator Tom Cotton that called for the use of military force against Black Lives Matter protesters; the Times later declared the piece did not meet its editorial standards but only after a number of staffers — at great risk to their jobs, given the company’s social-media policies — had spoken out about how publishing the piece put Black Times employees “at risk.” The paper’s editorial-page editor, James Bennet, who at first defended the piece, later admitted he had not read it prior to publication. (Bennet later resigned.)
The Times’ acting editorial-page editor, Kathleen Kingsbury, said the paper “appreciate[s] the many contributions that Bari made to Times Opinion,” according to a statement she gave to NBC News. Kingsbury noted she is “personally committed to ensuring that the Times continues to publish voices, experiences, and viewpoints from across the political spectrum.”
More recently, Weiss was one of the signatories on a much debated letter published by Harper’s defending “free speech.” Along with J.K. Rowling, Malcom Gladwell, and 150 others, Weiss signed on to the manifesto, which condemned the so-called forces of illiberalism. (There’s that word again.) One signer, writer and trans activist Jennifer Finney Boylan, has since apologized for adding her name to the letter, saying she would not have signed had she known who else was doing so. “I thought I was endorsing a well meaning, if vague, message against internet shaming. I did know Chomsky, Steinem, and Atwood were in, and I thought, good company. The consequences are mine to bear. I am so sorry,” she tweeted.
On Twitter over the weekend, Thomas Chatterton Williams, a writer who also signed the Harper’s letter, claimed in now-deleted tweets that he was “in the middle of nowhere in France and I literally ended up expelling from my house an American friend staying over who, out of nowhere, started ranting against Bari Weiss.” Au revoir, Bari. Enjoy whatever book/podcast/movie/Quibi deal you’ve got waiting for you on the other side of all this.
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