With all the political and racial unrest going on in the country right now, there’s a very different --- and extremely welcome (to me) --- kind of unrest going on at the same time. It’s happening in the media, as “cancel culture” starts to eat its own.
Yesterday, we brought you the story of Bari Weiss, a self-described “centrist” journalist who very publicly left her job as a writer and editor at THE NEW YORK TIMES after finding out what it was like there to try to express an individual, intellectually curious, non-sanctioned thought or even to report a story that didn't advance a leftist, anti-Trump agenda. In case you didn’t see her open resignation letter, here it is at her website. There is still smoke coming off of it.
Weiss justifiably slams media people, particularly at the NYT, for their sense of self-importance. “A new consensus has emerged in the press,” she writes, 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.”
Seems to me that it should have been enough that Weiss was upset at Donald Trump’s victory and even cried at her desk when he won. But, no, that wasn’t nearly enough. In fact, they were all too busy sobbing at their own desks to notice her dismay. She soon found out that in the new Era of Trump, all so-called “journalists” were required from that day forward to have a single-minded focus on destroying...HIM.
(By the way, I thought it was interesting that Weiss’s colleagues called her a “Nazi” while also complaining that she was "writing about Jews again.” Just wondering: if they’re complaining about her writing about Jews, just who are the Nazis here? Do these so-called professional journalists even know what a Nazi is? But I digress.)
Brian Kilmeade, subbing for Tucker Carlson on his Tuesday evening show, played a clip of Ms. Weiss from “The Joe Rogan Experience,” talking about what happened. She makes a very interesting point about “cancel culture”: “The people who are inoculated from it [the ostracism, firings, etc.] are people that are already extremely successful and can take the risk. It’s why Ricky Gervais can be Ricky Gervais; it’s why J. K. Rowling can tweet what she tweeted a few months ago and survive it, because they’ve already accumulated enough capital. The people that I hear from that are completely screwed by it are people like artists and poets and untenured professors are aren’t famous and no one knows about, and are, you know, having to go with a begging bowl..to get support after they’ve, you know, made a bad joke, or whatever it is.”
Weiss apparently hadn’t reached the point in her career at which she could get away with expressing her own thoughts. Thank goodness actor/comedian Ricky Gervais had attained that level by the time Hollywood “cancel culture” inspired him to ridicule it, which he has done mercilessly. And he hasn’t let up. (My theory: he knows what he says is really what most people think.)
Kilmeade pointed out that another NYT editor, Liz Spayd, sounded very much like Weiss in an interview with Carlson back in December of 2016 (right after Trump was elected). Spayd lost her job (surprise!) shortly after doing that interview. “I consider it almost an unrecognized point of view,” she said, “that The Times has that comes from being in New York, being in that, you know, in a certain circle, and seeing the world a certain way, not being in touch with people who don’t live like them or don’t live in cities and who are the ones who elected Donald Trump to the presidency. They’re just out of touch with that.”
I’ll say it again: they should have just read my 2016 book GOD, GUNS, GRITS, & GRAVY.
Journalists who try to challenge their more radical, “woke” colleagues at The Times to look outside their safe little thought-bubble tend not to last long there. It’s a hostile work environment, to say the least. Weiss believes there are many in the same position she was in; they just do what they know is expected of them and don’t speak up. I would imagine that even some of the editors directing and correcting their underlings are doing it out of fear of “cancel culture,” protecting their own job security.
But now Andrew Sullivan has left his job at THE NEW YORKER. Sullivan is someone who does have quite a big name. He says the underlying reasons for his exit are “pretty self-evident” and that he’ll address them in his last column on Friday. Sullivan also has backed Weiss, saying, “The mob bullied and harrassed a young woman for thoughtcrimes. And her editors stood by and watched.”
Someone else has resigned, not from the media but from another influential post in popular culture: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art senior curator of painting and sculpture Gary Garrels. As reported by Robby Soave at REASON magazine, he was accused of “toxic white supremacist beliefs” in a petition from museum employees for daring to say he would still accept works of art from white men. I am not kidding –- that is ALL he said. I wish Garrels, after 20 years with the museum, had put up more of a fight against such a ludicrous accusation, but at least this puts into focus how a small minority of crazies are trying to run the show. More sane people will become fed up with this type of radical orthodoxy, and more WILL fight back.
Finally, today's look at what’s happening with media wouldn’t be complete without examining how it’s blurring the lines between news and outright campaign advocacy. CourierNewsroom.com, known as “Courier,” was created and funded by the Democrat-aligned digital organization Acronym. It is absolutely political, but because it’s organized as a media outlet, it doesn’t have to disclose its donors or the total dollars it spends promoting Democrat politicians. (In that way, it’s a lot like Black Lives Matter not having to report its source of funding.)
According to this story in POLITICO, “Experts in media ethics and misinformation worry that the advocacy-cloaked-in-journalism tactic is pouring gasoline on a raging fire of consumer misinformation and online disinformation." Yes, there is that, but I also agree with those who say that this trend will further undermine the public’s trust in news, which has already fallen to about as low as it can go. It gets harder all the time just to find accurate information on a candidate or an issue, even as partisan “fact-checkers” abound. That’s why we’re trying so hard here to sort it all out and be a valued and trusted source.