Hello this is Darrell Castle with today’s Castle Report. Today I will be talking about the resignation of Bari Weiss from The New York Times. And also what her resignation actually says about the Times, the newspaper of record for America and for the world.
Castle family update
The Castle family continues to do well in our new virus dominated world, but the family daughter remains stuck now in the middle of her 5th month of exile. I will admit to allowing some anger to creep into my life over her condition. I am known to occasionally rant to Joan on the order of, “how long can they justify holding her hostage and telling her they have no idea how long her sentence is. We carry on and we try to make something positive out of our periodic video calls with her.
Bari Weiss resigns
Today I’m going to talk about what I consider to be one of the most important events in the history of American journalism, and that is the resignation of Bari Weiss. Bari Weiss was the NYT opinion columnist and editor and she resigned last Monday. But first she sent a scathing letter of explanation to her boss, NYT publisher A.G. Sulzberger. I’m going to let her do most of the talking today so you can understand the gravity of the reasons she cited for her resignation.
In brief she cited bullying from colleagues and said that:
- The Times is no longer a place where intellectual curiosity is welcome, and that
- She was essentially forced out by a mob of woke insiders who disagreed with her wrong think.
“My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views.”
Bari Weiss in her own words
Now I will quote from her letter of resignation:
It is with sadness that I write to tell you that I am resigning from The New York Times.
I joined the paper with gratitude and optimism three years ago. I was hired with the goal of bringing in voices that would not otherwise appear in your pages: first-time writers, centrists, conservatives, and others who would not naturally think of the Times as their home. 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.
She goes on to talk about a long list of names she was successful in bringing into the paper. Then she continues:
The Times failed to learn from its mistakes (or were they mistakes?)
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. 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.
Taking editorial direction from Twitter
Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become 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. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative.
Bari Weiss endures constructive discharge
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 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.
Captain, I don’t understand!
I do not understand how you have allowed this kind of behavior to go on inside your company in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public.1 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.
Bari Weiss not the only one
Part of me wishes I could say that my experience was unique. But the truth is that intellectual curiosity—let alone risk-taking is now a liability at the Times. 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? And so self-censorship has become the norm.
What rules 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.2 Online venom is excused so long as it is directed at the proper targets.
What galaxy does this paper write in?
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 doxing of teenagers in the name of justice is condoned; and the worst caste systems in human history includes the United States alongside Nazi Germany.
Even now, I am confident that most people at The Times do not hold these views. Yet they are cowed by those who do. Why? Perhaps because they believe the ultimate goal is righteous. Perhaps because they believe they will be granted protection if they nod along as the coin of our realm—language—is degraded in service to an ever-shifting laundry list of right causes. Perhaps because there are millions of unemployed people in this country and they feel lucky to have a job in a contracting industry.
Inter arma culturae enim silent principiis
Or perhaps it is because they know that, nowadays, standing up for principle at the paper does not win plaudits. It puts a target on your back. Too wise to post on Slack, they write to me privately about the new McCarthyism that has taken root at the paper of record.
All this bodes ill, especially for independent minded young writers and editors paying close attention to what they’ll have to do to advance in their careers. Rule one: Speak your mind at your own peril. Rule Two: Never risk commissioning a story that goes against the narrative. Rule Three: Never believe an editor or publisher who urges you to go against the grain. Eventually the publisher will cave to the mob, the editor will get fired or reassigned, and you’ll be hung out to dry.
Bari Weiss has a few more ending paragraphs. But I will end her letter there5 and add to her words some of my own commentary.
Bari Weiss – not conservative, but a trustworthy accuser
She is not a conservative the way that I am a conservative. I’m not sure how she feels about certain issues that are before the nation today. I am sure that her eloquent refutation of the mind destroying political correctness that requires adherence to a set political narrative that the Times chooses to present to the world whether that narrative is true or not is one of the most important ever written.
She revealed in clear detail how this paper which goes around the world in search out the most talented writers. But it then requires those writers to support only a pre-chosen set of ideas. The ideas they must support with their reporting of the “news” may or may not be true. But truth is irrelevant to those in charge of the newspaper of record.6
Background of Bari Weiss
Bari Weiss describes herself as a classic liberal or left-leaning centrist and I’m not quite sure what that means. I can guess that it means she is more akin to John Kennedy than Barack Obama. But I’m not certain of that. She has written many pieces favorable to the Israeli government and much of her work focuses on anti-Semitism issues. She is, of course, not the only one to be sacked by the woke mob in charge of the Times.
The sacking of James Bennet – did this lead to her own exit?
James Bennet was editorial page editor. In fact he was under consideration as a possible candidate for the top job when Sulzberger retires next year. But the mob purged him, too. It seems that he had the audacity to allow a U.S. Senator from the state of [Arkansas] to publish an op-ed agreeing with President Trump that riots and looting should be met with armed force and law and order restored. He was simply not wanted, no matter how talented, if he deviated in any way from the acceptable narrative. Bari Weiss angered the mob who put her on its hit list when she made the campaign against Bennet public.
Lies and liars hate the truth
There is nothing that lies hate more than the truth. Darkness flees from the light because it cannot stand in the face of the light. So it will hate and punish the light whenever possible. The sad part is that the Times is not unusual. The entire narrative under which this country operates has its basis in nothing but lies. The lies upon which our entire political narrative rest are very precarious. So they are always in danger of discovery for what they are. In response the lies must always have the protection of:
- Mass media,
- The political class,
- The intellectual elite, and
- Every CEO of every major corporation.
I can only surmise that the reasons are among those Bari Weiss listed in her letter.
Lies tear a country apart
Unfortunately, the lies serve to tear apart the social fabric of the country. They also provide a false explanation for everything that happens. So we as Americans become more and more fearful and distrustful of each other. The lies are based on opinion rather than fact. Yet every politician who wants reelection and every reporter who wants a job must act as if they believe the lies to be absolute truth.
“Free speech is dead!” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
The term free speech is just a façade for say what I want you to say or else. Because only they have access to the moral clarity that can be possessed only by the woke ones. Why consider alternate points of view when you know there is only one? Why try to discern the truth when it is so obvious to you? Indeed why ask hard questions about truth before rioting and looting when you know the absolute truth? And why continue to hold such quaint views as:
- Innocent until proven guilty,
- You must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,
Why not just decide and let the media declare the ones you despise, racists? That is now the prevailing view across the entire spectrum of education, media, and business.
Conclusion – thank you, Bari Weiss, for speaking the truth
Finally, folks, I thank Bari Weiss for bringing the problem out of the darkness and into the light of day. Hopefully many people will read her letter and hear her words. And come to question the lies they have believed their entire lives.
At least that’s the way I see it.
Until next time folks,
This is Darrell Castle.
1 Your editor can understand perfectly. Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, grandson of Punch and son of Pinch, follows the political ideology both espoused. This namby-pamby expression of “regret” that he had to terminate James Bennett (see below) does not fool this reader. If he had an ounce of integrity, or cared a fig for the truth, James Bennett would remain and some members of the “woke mob” would be bouncing out of the building on their fundaments. Sadly, the reverse is true. And the fault lies with Arthur G. Sulzberger and no one else. The captain of the ship is responsible for absolutely everything that happens during his tenure in command.
Bari Weiss lists two examples
3 Those examples, which your editor feels are instructive by themselves, are as follows. First, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) wrote an op-ed calling on the President to “send in the troops” into American cities now suffering from civil disorder. He particularly cited those cities, the mayors of which have stood down their police forces. The senator cited the Insurrection Act and the obligation of the federal government to “protect [States] from domestic violence.” That obligation in fact appears in the United States Constitution, Article IV, Section 4. The drafting process involved much negotiation and was far more complex than that of an essayist sitting down to write and revise an essay on his own. Nevertheless, the staff of The New York Times howled in outrage. In reply, editorial page editor James Bennett sent this tweet:
4 For her second example Bari Weiss lists the interview of Alice Walker by Cheryl Strayed. Ms. Walker has a history of making anti-Jewish comments in her writing. Ms. Strayed never challenged her on this. Bari Weiss and others considered that a serious omission.
Inspiring quotes? Or mendacious?
5 This is probably just as well. Bari Weiss quotes A. G. Sulzberger. Who said, “An independent press is not a liberal ideal or a progressive ideal or a democratic ideal. It’s an American ideal.” Then she quotes Adolph Ochs, the original founder. He pledged “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.” Your editor has come to the inescapable conclusion that both men were lying. Bari Weiss perhaps still cannot know that. But your editor does.
The role of critical theory
6 How true this is. Andrew Sullivan found that out at his own expense at New York magazine. Like Bari Weiss, Andrew Sullivan has started (actually restarted) his own Web site. Mr. Sullivan identified the problem: critical theory, Frankfurt School style, and its application.
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