Bari Weiss Resigns From New York Times, Citing ‘Illiberal Environment’

Bari Weiss New York Times
Sipa USA via AP

Bari Weiss, a staff writer and editor for the New York Times’ increasingly heated Opinion section, is leaving her job, she announced in a letter to the publisher.

“Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor,” Weiss said in a note addressed to A.G. Sulzberger that was posted on her personal site Tuesday. “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.”

She described an “illiberal environment” at the newspaper, and alleged her work “made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views.”

Weiss has gained fame for tilting at the excesses of progressive culture since joining the Times in 2017. But her work and social-media activity have drawn criticism, even as they facilitated appearances on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher” and captured media attention, and she has been described as a provocateur. She was one of dozens of media figures who recently signed an open letter published by Harper’s in which the signatories worried about the free exchange of ideas in American society as liberals and conservatives become increasingly tribal.

“We appreciate the many contributions that Bari made to Times Opinion. I’m personally committed to ensuring that The Times continues to publish voices, experiences and viewpoints from across the political spectrum in the Opinion report,” said Kathleen Kingsbury, acting editorial page editor, The New York Times, in a statement. “We see every day how impactful and important that approach is, especially through the outsized influence The Times’s opinion journalism has on the national conversation.”

The Times recently parted ways with James Bennet, the top editorial executive overseeing its editorial page and Op-Ed sections, after the paper published an Op-Ed from Senator Tom Cotton that called for a military response to quell civic unrest in the U.S. following the death of George Floyd while in custody of police in Minneapolis. The article spurred a visceral reaction among Times editorial staffers, several of whom defied the outlet’s social-media guidelines to protest the article’s publication. Bennet was seen as a possible candidate to succeed Dean Baquet, the Times’ executive editor.

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

Before joining the Times, Weiss was an op-ed and book review editor at The Wall Street Journal. She also worked at Tablet, an online magazine centered Jewish politics and culture. She graduated from Columbia University in 2007, and is the author of “How to Fight Anti-Semitism.”