New York Times editor resigns, says ‘self-censorship has become the norm’
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NEW YORK, July 15, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — In a scathing resignation letter released yesterday, The New York Times’ op-ed staff editor and writer, Bari Weiss, has called out the newspaper for its anti-Trump bias and its “bullying” corporate culture.
“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 rhetorically. “And so self-censorship has become the norm.”
“If a person’s ideology is in keeping with the new orthodoxy, they and their work remain unscrutinized,” Weiss pointed out in her letter to A.G. Sulzberger, the newspaper’s publisher. “Everyone else lives in fear of the digital thunderdome. Online venom is excused so long as it is directed at the proper targets.”
According to Weiss, the standards of The New York Times have changed dramatically even within the last two years. President Donald Trump and others had criticized news outlets like The New York Times for spreading fake news even before that.
“Op-eds that would have easily been published just two years ago would now get an editor or a writer in serious trouble, if not fired,” Weiss said. “If a piece is perceived as likely to inspire backlash internally or on social media, the editor or writer avoids pitching it. If she feels strongly enough to suggest it, she is quickly steered to safer ground. And if, every now and then, she succeeds in getting a piece published that does not explicitly promote progressive causes, it happens only after every line is carefully massaged, negotiated and caveated.”
The writer and editor accused the newspaper of being, “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.”
The term “doxxing” (sometimes “doxing”) refers to the practice of displaying publicly any private or identifying information about an individual or organization, for instance a person’s home address.
Weiss also said the Times essentially used Twitter as “its 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,” she said, lamenting, “Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative.”
Weiss related she was asked to join the Times after the 2016 presidential election, doing so “with gratitude and optimism three years ago.” Her job was to bring in voices not otherwise published by the newspaper, including centrists and conservatives.
“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,” she explained. “The priority in Opinion was to help redress that critical shortcoming.”
In spite of some successes, she said “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.”
Rather, she added, “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.”
“My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views,” Weiss revealed about the corporate culture at The New York Times. “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.”
The New York Times communicates internally by means of Slack, a platform to organize work within a company more efficiently. On the papers’ Slack channels, Weiss was being harassed by coworkers in many ways.
She said her “work and my character are openly demeaned,” with “masthead editors regularly weigh[ing] 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.”
Weiss was also labeled “a liar and a bigot” by coworkers 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,” she emphasized. “I’m no legal expert. But I know that this is wrong.”
Weiss openly criticized A. G. Sulzberger for having “allowed this kind of behavior to go on inside your company in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public. And I certainly can’t square how you and other Times leaders have stood by while simultaneously praising me in private for my courage. Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery.”