Bari Weiss slams cancel culture, says social media giants “need to look inside their own houses.”
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Bari Weiss, the former New York Times editor who quit the paper last month, lashed out at the giants of social media, saying that while the bosses agreed with her, it was time they cleaned up their own houses to confront the phenomenon of cancel culture.
Weiss stirred controversy when she resigned from the Times, accusing the paper of allowing Twitter users to call the shots on its editorial policy and alleging that management failed to support staff who faced massive social media assaults by those who did not want counter-opinions to be heard.
“In order to do our job well, writers and editors need to have a level of bravery, and thick skin and fearlessness. and when you are living in fear of an online mob, all it takes is a dozen people to repeat a lie about you that you’re a racist, that you’re a transphobe, that you’re a bigot for that lie to become true and that’s extremely dangerous,” Weiss told HBO talk show host Bill Maher on Friday.
When Maher mentioned that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos both agreed that social media was having a negative influence on public discourse, Weiss had harsh words not just for cancel culture, but for big business that wasn’t taking a stand against it.
“What cancel culture is about is not criticism, it is about about punishment. The writer Jonathan Rausch has called it something like ‘social murder’,” Weiss said.
“I’m gratified that the heads of those big tech companies agree with me, but I think they need to look inside their own houses,” Weiss said. “The reason that Twitter is the assigning editor of The New York Times is because the printing press isn’t the printing press anymore. It’s because the printing press is in each one of our pockets. These technologies have severed our relationships with the editors and the newspapers we used to rely on.”
Weiss said that instead of an editor surveying the stories affecting the news cycle, they were instead narrowing themselves down to reacting to harsh tweets. She pointed out that her former boss, James Bennet, was forced to resign after 1,000 people called for his ouster for publishing an op-ed by Republican Senator Tom Cotton.
“The problem that happened at the Times … is that my boss got fired for running an op-ed by a sitting U.S. senator. You might say that Tom Cotton is detestable, that you disagree with him, but I don’t want to live in a world where the views of half of the country can’t be heard in the paper of record. And that’s, I fear, where we are headed,” Weiss said.