Bari Weiss resigns from ‘New York Times,’ citing culture of groupthink

"Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery," she wrote in her resignation letter.

Bari Weiss (photo credit: TWITTER)
Bari Weiss
(photo credit: TWITTER)
Jewish journalist Bari Weiss has resigned from her position as staff editor and writer at The New York Times opinion section, citing a culture of bullying and groupthink at the newspaper.
In a resignation letter posted to her personal website, Weiss wrote: “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.
“My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views,” she continued. “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.’”
Describing instances in which colleagues had slurred her as a “bigot” and a “liar” on the company-wide Slack communication channels and Twitter with no reprimand from senior management, Weiss wrote: “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.”
“Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery,” she added.
Weiss is known for her commitment to plurality, and in particular to fighting antisemitism. In 2018, she won The Reason Foundation’s Bastiat Prize for writing that “best demonstrates the importance of freedom with originality, wit, and eloquence.” In 2019 Weiss was named the seventh most influential Jew in the world by The Jerusalem Post.
Her resignation comes just over a month after the resignation of James Bennet as editor of the paper’s editorial page days after publishing an op-ed by Senator Tom Cotton, Republican Senator for Arkansas, advocating for a military response to civic unrest in the United States. But Weiss wrote in her letter that even this article was given more leeway than one on the Israeli town of Jaffa.
“It took the paper two days and two jobs to say that the Tom Cotton op-ed ‘fell short of our standards,’” Weiss wrote. “We attached an editor’s note on a travel story about Jaffa shortly after it was published because it ‘failed to touch on important aspects of Jaffa’s makeup and its history.’”
Although published openly, Weiss’s letter was addressed to A.G. Sulzberger, the current publisher of The New York Times.
Sulzberger is the great-great-grandson of Adolph Ochs, a Jewish publisher who bought the ailing New York Times in 1896 and proceeded to transform the paper’s fortunes through a focus on objective journalism during an era in which partisan reporting was the norm. Invoking the family legacy, Weiss appealed to Och’s vision for the paper as a public platform for the rigorous discussion of ideas, stating: “I can no longer do the work that you brought me here to do – the work that Adolph Ochs described in that famous 1896 statement: “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.”
She concluded: “Ochs’s idea is one of the best I’ve encountered. And I’ve always comforted myself with the notion that the best ideas win out. But ideas cannot win on their own. They need a voice. They need a hearing. Above all, they must be backed by people willing to live by them.”