The New York Times (NYT) has become “a place where people are fired for running” pieces written by conservatives, the newspaper’s former op-ed writer Bari Weiss told journalist Megyn Kelly on Friday.
Weiss resigned from the NYT in July of 2020, writing a scathing letter in the process where she accused the publication of “unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge.” Just prior to her resignation, Weiss tweeted about a “civil war” raging within the company “between the (mostly young) wokes [and] the (mostly 40+) liberals.”
She elaborated on her experience at the NYT during a segment on Kelly’s podcast and at one point referred to Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton’s op-ed titled “Send In The Troops.” The piece sparked massive public backlash from those at the paper.
Weiss suggested that the newspaper has “changed dramatically” over time and pointed to Cotton’s op-ed as a prime example.
“I think the thing to emphasize for people, what I like to say to people is like, The New York Times is not The New York Times,” Weiss told Kelly. “Harvard is not Harvard. Go down the list. Harvard still has the same slogan and same crest. The New York Times still has the font and the claim to be the paper of record, but what it actually is has changed.”
“It’s changed dramatically and try and look beyond the font to see that,” she continued. “The New York Times is now a place where people are fired for running an op-ed by a conservative Republican. Yet pieces that are out-and-out propaganda from the Chinese Communist Party are acceptable.”
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) January 22, 2021
Weiss said she believes that “in a normal non-upside down world,” a publisher would have reacted differently to the Cotton controversy. Journalists at the newspaper publicly condemned the article and said that “running this puts Black @NYTimes staff in danger.” In response, The NYT eventually issued an apology.
“I felt like in a normal non-upside down world, I felt like the response on the part of any publisher, in the case of journalists claiming that an op-ed by a senator put their lives in danger would be, I respect that you have this position, perhaps working in a newspaper is not the right career path for you,” Weiss said. “But instead, what happened in the wake of that was really unbelievable. It was like a struggle session, with people crying, with people being praised by the masthead for their moral clarity and their courage. It was quite a spectacle.”
Weiss and Kelly also got into the attitude of the media as former President Donald Trump’s tenure continued. Weiss suggested that as time went on, pieces that did not overtly indicate Trump was bad became viewed as “traitorous.”
“It was strange, because this is the kind of environment where inclusion and diversity are the watchwords and bullying is wrong,” Weiss noted. “But bullying the right people, it’s not just okay there, it’s kind of like a virtue. One of the ways this played out was this just really, really insidious double standard. If you had the right politics, and you have the right perspective, you could basically be unscrutinized and you could act totally unprofessionally, for example, on Twitter, and nothing would happen to you.”