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Editor Bari Weiss leaves New York Times, citing paper's waning ability to tolerate diverse opinions

The writer and editor, who joined the NYT's opinion page in 2017, resigned publicly Tuesday morning

Published: July 14, 2020 12:51pm

Updated: July 14, 2020 5:05pm

In a letter addressed to New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger, Bari Weiss resigned Tuesday from her position as a writer and editor at the Times' Opinion page, saying she's through with coworkers harassing her for centrist views.

Weiss's departure follows weeks of public tumult at the Times, beginning when the paper ran an op-ed by Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton that advocated for the potential use of military action in response to violent protests across the country in response to George Floyd's death on May 25. 

James Bennet, the former head of the Opinion page, left his position in response to the uproar over Cotton's piece. The episode was just the latest in what Weiss recently described in a lengthy twitter thread as a civil war at the paper between the new generation of young "wokes" and older "liberals." 

Weiss left the Wall Street Journal's Opinion section in 2017 to join the New York Times. 

In her resignation letter, Weiss accuses her former colleagues of relentless hostility toward her, on account of her differing viewpoints — one of the qualities for which she was hired in the first place. 

"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.' ... My work and my character are openly demeaned on company-wide Slack channels where masthead editors regularly weigh in," Weiss wrote. 

"New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action," she continued. "Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery."

Kathleen Kingsbury, the Times' recently appointed acting editorial page editor, said in a statement: "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. 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."

Weiss has consistently been the subject of public scrutiny by her colleagues on social media, despite a Times policy that asks its journalists to "avoid expressing partisan opinions or editorializing on issues that the national newspaper is covering."

Though the policy was developed for reporters within the Times' news division, which is run separately from the opinion side, it has frequently been news journalists purportedly admonishing Weiss and her viewpoints. 

In June, it was a gaggle of news-side journalists, editors and producers who took to Twitter to publicly shame their employer for publishing the opinion of a sitting U.S. senator. 

Weiss notes in her resignation that "Twitter is not the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor."

"The paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space," she wrote. "Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences."

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