Popular journalist quits NY Times, slams bullying, discrimination and anti-Semitism

The Jewish author recalls being labeled a “Nazi and a racist,” suggesting her treatment amounts to “unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge.”

By Ira Stoll, The Algemeiner

Author, writer and editor Bari Weiss has resigned from The New York Times, complaining in a letter to Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger of “unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge.”

In the letter, Weiss wrote that she had become “the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views.”

“I have learned to brush off comments about how I’m ‘writing about the Jews again,’” Weiss writes.

Weiss, a graduate of Columbia University, is the author of the 2019 book How To Fight Anti-Semitism. For the Times, she wrote movingly about, among other topics, the 2018 deadly attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in her hometown of Pittsburgh.

Before the Times, she worked for Tablet, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Sun. In a 2018 column she wrote with her Times colleague Bret Stephens, they described themselves as “unhinged Zionists.”

In 2017, she received The Algemeiner‘s Journalist of the Year award.

“I joined the paper with gratitude and optimism three years ago,” Weiss wrote. “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.”

She warned that “the lessons that ought to have followed the [2016 US presidential] 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.”

“I certainly can’t square how you and other Times leaders have stood by while simultaneously praising me in private for my courage,” she added. “Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery. 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.”

Weiss noted that “independent-minded young writers and editors would take away the lesson, “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.”

As recently as October 2018, Sulzberger publicly defended Weiss and Stephens. Asked about them by CNN’s Brian Stelter, Sulzberger said, “I think our readers absolutely want to be challenged,” adding, “I understand that people aren’t always happy with particular stories or even writers that we bring on staff, but I do think that, when measured in sum, that those folks have added a ton to our report, and that the bulk of our readers have really welcomed them.”

The Weiss resignation letter said the situation at the paper had deteriorated. “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,” she said. “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… nowadays, standing up for principle at the paper does not win plaudits. It puts a target on your back.”

A spokeswoman for the Times did not immediately reply to an email seeking a response from the paper.