Writer Bari Weiss didn’t just burn her bridges to the New York Times in her startling resignation today from the newspaper; she incinerated them with a flamethrower.
In a blistering letter posted on her personal website, the 36-year-old paints an unflattering picture of her time at the “Gray Lady”, alleging bullying by her colleagues who falsely accused her of being a racist and a Nazi, a notion as a Jew that she found especially offensive.
“Several colleagues perceived to be friendly with me were badgered by coworkers.” she writes. “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.”
The letter addressed to Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger claims that management never took action against Times employees who publicly smeared her even though they praised her privately.
Weiss argues that The Times is too eager to play it safe when it comes to its op-eds and has become so dependent on Twitter that the social media site has become the paper’s “ultimate editor.”
“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 writes. “And so self-censorship has become the norm.”
The Pittsburgh native joined the Times’s Opinion section as a Staff Writer and Editor three years ago in the wake of the mainstream media’s failure to anticipate the election of President Donald Trump. At the time, as Weiss explains it, the paper “didn’t have a firm grasp of the country it covers” because it didn’t welcome centrists like herself, conservatives, and others differed from other Times journalists.
“The priority in Opinion was to help redress that critical shortcoming.” Weiss writes, adding that she was “proud” to be part of the effort lead by former Opinion Editor James Bennet. He resigned last month after the paper ran an inaccurate op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), calling for the deployment of federal troops to quell the protests over the death of George Floyd.
“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,” she writes. “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.”
Officials from the Times didn’t respond to an email seeking comment for this story.
Acting Editorial Page Editor Kathleen Kingsbury sounded a conciliatory note in a statement to the press, saying, “We appreciate the many contributions that Bari made to Times Opinion. I’m personally committed to ensuring that The Times continues to publish voices, experiences, and viewpoints from across the political spectrum in the Opinion report.”
Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told Politico that the paper is “committed to fostering an environment of honest, searching and empathetic dialogue between colleagues, one where mutual respect is required.
Conservative writer Andrew Sullivan struck a sympathetic chord with Weiss, noting on Twitter that “This is the real problem. The intimidation of younger, less recognized writers and thinkers who challenge leftism. It’s deliberate, illiberal, and saturates mainstream media.”
Sullivan also announced that he would be leaving New York Magazine, his professional home since 2016, at the end of the week.