Some time ago, the establishment media abandoned objective news reporting in favor of acting as a propaganda instrument of the Democratic Party and even of the extreme left — if there is still any difference. Have they gone too far, though? Has the dying breed of honest journalists finally decided that the nastiness, public shaming, fabricated stories, and, most of all, total intolerance of diverse viewpoints become intolerable? Is this a Prexit? Maybe a Jexit? Did Liberty Nation predict the traditional media’s downfall way back in January 2017?
Bari Weiss, a former opinion writer and editor for The New York Times and self-described centrist, has had enough. On July 14, Weiss left the newspaper and published a lengthy resignation letter on her website, torching the culture of bullying and political bigotry at the Gray Lady. Shortly after Weiss announced her departure, a conservative columnist for New York magazine, Andrew Sullivan, also quit, for much the same reasons.
Out of Touch
Addressed to Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger, Weiss’ letter doesn’t pull any punches. The journalist begins by pointing out that she was hired in 2017 as part of a good-faith effort to address the paper’s growing inability to connect with the American people. “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,” Weiss wrote.
As was the case with so many other newspapers and TV news outlets, the editors and writers at The Times simply would not accept that Donald Trump could win the 2016 election. From their ivory tower, these elites — as they think of themselves — surveyed the nation and ultimately failed to understand the mood of the people. Was that how it happened, though, or did they feel the wind changing and dismiss it as the petty grumblings of the unwashed masses? The commoners were unable to comprehend what they, the vaunted journalists, knew: Hillary Clinton was the chosen one, and her Democratic Party was the future.
Weiss became disillusioned with the new consensus, as she described it, “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.”
That’s not the whole story, though. Weiss said she was bullied in the workplace and online by her supposed colleagues because she did not conform to the paper’s accepted orthodoxy. “My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views,” Weiss wrote. “They have called me a Nazi and a racist … ”
The writer also pointed out the staggering irony of leftist groupthink: “[S]ome coworkers insist I need to be rooted out if this company is to be a truly ‘inclusive’ one.” Therein lies the cognitive dissonance of which almost all leftists are guilty: that to create a tolerant and inclusive culture, one must first silence those who believe that tolerance and inclusivity mean accepting a diverse array of viewpoints.
Sullivan has yet to explain fully his reasons for leaving New York magazine. He plans to do so in his July 17 column, which will be his last. In a tweet announcing his intention to leave his position, though, the columnist wrote: “The underlying reasons for the split are pretty self-evident.”
Sullivan was himself appalled to see what happened to Weiss. “The mob bullied and harassed a young woman for thoughtcrimes,” he wrote in another tweet. “And her editors stood by and watched.”
To turn their waning fortunes around would be easy for these increasingly discredited outfits: They merely have to begin reporting the news objectively, drawing a distinction between it and opinion, and inviting open and honest debate. Weiss herself quoted late New York Times owner Adolph Ochs, who promised: “to make of the columns of The New York Times a forum for the consideration of all questions of public importance, and to that end to invite intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion.”
Of course, to embark upon such an endeavor, the scribblers at The Times would have to reveal — within their new nonpartisan reportage — that they had previously been so wrong and so dishonest on so many occasions. Given the egos involved, that is not likely to happen any time soon.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.