My Take on Bari Weiss, the New York Times … and Wrongthink

Liberals in the media love to talk about diversity, about how we can’t have truly honest journalism without it. If you don’t worship with them at the altar of diversity then, they figure, you’re a bigot of one kind or another. But be assured they’re not talking about diversity of ideas in their newsrooms. That kind of diversity is not something they seek. It’s something they try to crush.

The same intolerant liberal mob that forced the opinion editor of the New York Times out of his job in June because he published a conservative op-ed they didn’t like, has now hounded Bari Weiss, a Times editor and opinion writer, out of her job.

Ms. Weiss wrote a letter to A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher of the Times, telling him why she was resigning. Her message captures what’s wrong with American newsrooms these days – especially her own – but more broadly her letter is about a ‘cancel culture’ that punishes unacceptable opinions — and about a rigid orthodoxy that has no place in an American newsroom.

But the lessons that ought to have followed the election [of Donald Trump in 2016] — 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,” she wrote. “Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, 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.”

Weiss is onto something important. The problem for many years now has been liberal bias in the news, which came about mainly because of groupthink – having too many like-minded people reporting and editing the news. Now, Ms. Weiss tells us, not so much about something new that’s infecting newsroom thinking, but something she’s given a new name – “Wrongthink.”

My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views,” she writes. “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.’ Several colleagues perceived to be friendly with me were badgered by coworkers. My work and my character are openly demeaned on company-wide Slack channels where masthead editors regularly weigh in. There, some coworkers insist I need to be rooted out if this company is to be a truly ‘inclusive’ one, while others post ax emojis next to my name. Still other 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. They never are.”

And then Ms. Weiss takes a well-deserved shot at her publisher and other leaders at the Times for never coming to her defense in the face of so much blatant cruelty.

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. Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery.”

Journalists are supposed to report about important trends in America, like the cancel culture. They’re not supposed to take part in it.

But the progressive mob – like the revolutionaries who ushered in a reign of terror after the French Revolution – has no tolerance for anyone who doesn’t see the world the way they do. During the reign of terror, people with “wrong” ideas lost their lives – now they “only” lose their livelihoods.

Part of me wishes I could say that my experience was unique,” Weiss writes. “But the truth is that intellectual curiosity — let alone risk-taking — is now a liability at The Times. Why edit something challenging to our readers, or write something bold only to go through the numbing process of making it ideologically kosher, when we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world? And so self-censorship has become the norm.

What rules that remain at The Times are applied with extreme selectivity. If a person’s ideology is in keeping with the new orthodoxy, they and their work remain unscrutinized. Everyone else lives in fear of the digital thunderdome. Online venom is excused so long as it is directed at the proper targets.

Op-eds that would have easily been published just two years ago would now get an editor or a writer in serious trouble, if not fired. If a piece is perceived as likely to inspire backlash internally or on social media, the editor or writer avoids pitching it. If she feels strongly enough to suggest it, she is quickly steered to safer ground. And if, every now and then, she succeeds in getting a piece published that does not explicitly promote progressive causes, it happens only after every line is carefully massaged, negotiated and caveated.”

And she has noticed something else about the modern American newsroom. It has rules – the kind that should never exist inside a journalistic institution.

Rule One: Speak your mind at your own peril. Rule Two: Never risk commissioning a story that goes against the narrative. Rule Three: Never believe an editor or publisher who urges you to go against the grain. Eventually, the publisher will cave to the mob, the editor will get fired or reassigned, and you’ll be hung out to dry.

At CBS News, where I worked for 28 years, I spoke out in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about liberal bias in the news. I did this only after years of quietly pointing out the bias to my colleagues, some of whom could have done something about the problem. No one did. My op-ed caused quite a stir, a media version of World War III.  That’s how big it was back in 1996.

No one forced me out of my job – I wasn’t cancelled — but I had become radioactive. People steered clear of me. They were afraid that the CBS Evening News anchor, Dan Rather, might see us chatting and that they would soon become radioactive too. My offense, like that of Ms. Weiss, was also wrongthink. We just didn’t have a name for it back then.

In my case, as I’ve said before, they were throwing spitballs at a battleship. I stayed at CBS for 4 and a half years after my op-ed, leaving to write my first book, Bias, about liberal bias at CBS and in America’s newsrooms generally.

Maybe Bari Weiss will also write a book about liberal intolerance in the newsroom. Her resignation letter is a good start.




Off the Cuff: Democratic Leaders Are Terrified of the Lunatic Left

If you need more proof that elected Democratic leaders are scared to death of the lunatic left, take a look at what Nancy Pelosi said recently.

That’s the topic of my Off the Cuff audio commentary this week. You can listen to it by clicking on the play (arrow) button below.

 

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Bernie’s Q&A: Lemon, Crews, Vindman, Downs, and more! (7/10) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)

Welcome to this week’s Premium Q&A session for Premium Interactive members. I appreciate you all signing up and joining me. Thank you.

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Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):


I know you worked at different networks, but I was wondering if you had any thoughts on Hugh Downs, who recently passed away. Did you know him at all? What did you think of his work as a journalist? Thanks. — Ben G.

I worked only at CBS… later as a contributor at Fox. Did not know Hugh Downs. But he certainly came across as a likable guy. Not sure I’d call him a journalist, not in any old school sense anyway. He was a TV personality who did his job well.

I recently re-watched the Spielberg film, Munich. The themes of the film…the endless revenge cycle, both sides claiming injustices, both sides fighting and killing… I couldn’t help but think about how we are today in this moment. With Trump or without him, we would despise one another. Even a worldwide pandemic can’t get us to be kind to each other, to listen to one another. I can’t think of anything that would bring us together. I believe Trump shouldn’t get a second term…but how would a President Biden be able to fix this? Fix a broken Congress? Fix a divided people? Heal all this anger? Care to give me some positive news for our future? Anything? — Joe B.

I’d love to give you some positive news for our future, Joe, but I can’t. I think we’re so divided, so broken, that I can’t think of what would fix it. I used to think an attack on the United States would bring us together. 9/11 did. For 10 minutes. I’ve been warning for a while now that the most serious problem facing this country is our polarization. I’m more convinced than ever that I was… and remain… right.

Mr G., Is the pathetically weak response from the GOP House & Senate to the unrest of the past few weeks crushing their chances at keeping the Senate & winning The House back? Or were they DOA before the Floyd murder? — ScottyG

The president has spoken out against the unrest and it hasn’t helped him in the polls. That shows you how far we’ve gone — voters hate Trump more than they hate the rioters and looters. Not sure it’s the GOP’s silence that might bring down their control of the Senate so much as a blue wave of discontent with how things are going generally. Donald Trump is at the helm. It’s happening on his watch. He may not be the only one to suffer the consequences.

Bernie……I spoiled my ballot in ’16 (voted MAD, for A E Neuman) because of Trump’s public –indeed, disgraceful– disregard for McCain even while being sympathetic to much of the Rep’s vision and agenda. Now, even with Covid19, I’m inclined to vote Rep but given Trump’s recent rubbishing of Jeff Sessions (a decent man over his head at DOJ who wanted to preside when the job called for an active manager) I may well, again, spoil my ballot at the top of the ticket. What, me worry? — Best regards, Andy M.

I think your vote for Alfred E Neuman was a good one — given the alternatives — Hilary and Donald.

To write about today’s street revolutionaries, without looking into the big money behind them that is funding them, what hope do we as average Americans have in stopping them (aka ultimately and successfully prosecuting the violent criminals who have destroyed many minority businesses and killed and assaulted our men in blue)?

Where is the progress in the prosecution of Hunter Biden and his co-conspirator-father Joe Biden?
Donations to BLM seem to be routed to the DNC but I don’t see the facts about that on the public table! — Gary H.

Not sure where you get your information, Gary, but if donations to BLM is routed to the DNC that’s news to me. Average Americans don’t have the authority to go out and arrest the criminals who are tearing down statues. That’s up to the authorities — local or federal, depending on where the statues stand. Democrats haven’t spoken out forcefully (if at all) against the chaos. But neither have a lot of Republicans, though as a group they’re better than the other side. I’m still wondering if a silent majority exists and will rise up on Election Day. As for Joe and Hunter Biden — not all sleazy business dealings are crimes. Let’s see if anything comes of it.

Bernie, what would it take for Trump to ignore these idiots and be the adult in the room? It appears that he has a terrible habit of wanting to fight everyone and not let controversies die a natural death. For instance today (7/6), he idiotically attacked NASCAR and Bubba Wallace even though the sport, and its fans, have mostly moved on from the incident in Talladega. His focus on Kapernick and those who kneel during the anthem keeps these people in the headlines. Why can Trump not let things go and focus on what unites us? He says he wants a united and patriotic country but why does he think he will achieve this with lowbrow tweets that seem more like school yard taunts and not honest attempts and showing all of the good that this nation has achieved in the past 244 years? I cannot imagine Reagan, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Washington, Grant, or Jefferson ever engaging in such childish antics. He needs to step up or else he will be stepping out. — Joe M.

Here’s your problem, Joe: You’re thinking rationally about an irrational man. Don’t waste your time. He’s incorrigible.

In many ways Trump has been his own worst enemy but I wonder, how would Obama have fared if 95% [or more] of the print and visual media had been on his case from day one? Flat out lied about much it reported about him? Not like he wasn’t thin skinned. — John M.

No question, John, that much of the media is out to get the president. The most recent evidence is how big news outlets covered the president’s speech at Mt. Rushmore. But this president is needlessly combative and chronically dishonest — and that would be true whether the media liked him or not. As for Obama:  He probably would have been a lot more prickly than he was if he had journalists on his rear end from Day One. So given the treatment he gets from the media, to some extent Mr. Trump’s behavior is understandable. But only to some extent.

I’m not sure how Trump is supposed to be taken seriously as a warrior against the “cancel culture” when he has called for the firing of a ton of media commentators, athletes, and CEOs (in most cases, just for criticizing him). It seems to me he’s contributed more to the cancel culture than most people. — Jen R.

Once again, Jen, you show us all how perceptive you are. I have nothing to add. You nailed it.

Regarding the coverage of Trump’s July 4th speech at Mt Rushmore, have we gone from media bias, to media advocacy (“A Slobbering Love Affair”), to the media telling blatant lies about a speech and a president? If so, has the mainstream media become Pravda, telling lies as a version of truth? — Steve R.

The coverage of the president’s speech at Mt. Rushmore was a new low for journalism. Some journalists did in fact, as you say, tell blatant lies about that speech. Whether it’s Pravda or not, I, personally, have not seen it this bad in my long journalistic career.

I saw that “interview” Don Lemon had with Terry Crews. It was stunning that Lemon CONSTANTLY INTERRUPTED Crews. Lemon essentially admitted that BLM really only cares about blacks being murdered when the death is from white cops or white civilians, as opposed to blacks dying at the hands of other black people. He then used the hypothetical argument of a group called “Cancer Matters,” and having people complain about that, and asking “what about HIV?”

Then Lemon doesn’t really allow Crews to respond by interrupting Crews and refusing to listen to him. I would have pointed out the flaws of Lemon’s fatuous point by saying that if HIV were causing a much larger amount of deaths in a certain community (such as black on black crime is) as opposed to cancer causing deaths (such as blacks dying at the hands of white cops), then YES, I think the larger problem should be dealt with as well instead of ignoring it and STILL blaming cancer for the deaths instead of HIV. A better comparison would be if a group that wanted to fight leprosy decided on totally ignoring HIV or cancer.

Why do you think Don Lemon thought he would not look silly and ridiculous to the viewing audience by making an argument and then cutting off any possible response from Terry Crews? Your thoughts and comments are appreciated. — “Leprosy Matters” Regards From The Emperor

Do you watch Don Lemon to get angry or to have a few chuckles? Just wondering. No anchor thinks he or she will look silly no matter how silly they behave. Don Lemon and many others on both sides of the aisle have very high opinions of themselves. As for Leprosy Matters: I interviewed patients at the last leprosy hospital on the U.S. mainland — in Carville , Louisiana — just before they shut the place down. And if you’re wondering … Carville, Louisiana is named after James Carville’s family.

Bernie, I’m an Independent – socially liberal, fiscally conservative. Non-violent, constructive, protests – good. Burners and looters – bad. I try to keep political comments to myself. The speech that President Trump gave July 4th, however, in my humble opinion, truly had to be one of the most irresponsible, reckless, and dangerous, speeches of all time, because it contained this quote – “Now we have tested almost 40 million people. By so doing, we show cases – 99% of which are totally harmless … ” –> “Totally harmless.” “99%.” “Totally.” “Harmless.” President Trump, millions of folks absolutely believe what you tell them. You speak. They believe. How many people will you, Donald J. Trump, kill by this savage disregard for the truth. Maybe me? My wife? My son? Maybe even you, who is reading this post now …Truly unbelievable. Bernie, your feelings about this? — Aloha, Mike

When Donald Trump’s lips are moving there’s a very good chance he’s saying something that isn’t true. That’s bad enough. But the toadies who cover for him… they are truly pathetic. Yes, I know they’re on his team… that they’re soldiers… not generals. But it takes a certain kind of person to be on his team — and it’s obvious, Mike that neither your nor I are that kind of person.

Bernie, do you believe that there exists a cabal of elitist oligarchs that are thrilled that the focus of the people of America is centered on both the coronavirus and the supposed pillars of injustice; African Americans, the LBGT community and all other theoretically socially oppressed groups? While most folks are desperately trying to survive the financial implications of the virus and fathom the hysterical protesting (rioting) and looting, this group of self-serving corporate executives and their political lackeys from both the right and the left are systematically expanding their wealth and power, taking advantage of the Federal Reserves accommodating monetary policies and the hastily conceived fiscal policies enacted by Congress. — Douglas C.

I’m not into conspiracies, Douglas. So, no, I don’t believe they’re “thrilled” that we’re focused on chaos and not on how they’re getting even more rich.  I believe they’re really with BLM.  I also believe there are no profiles in courage among our corporate executives, because if there were they’d question the group’s motives and wouldn’t accept as a given that systemic racism exists in America.  I don’t think this answers your question the way you intended, but it’s the best I’ve got.  Thanks.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (who testified in Trump’s impeachment hearings, and who Trump repeatedly attacked the character of) just retired from the U.S. Army. This came after the White House delayed (multiple times over several weeks) a promotion Vindman was due. The delays included the White House calling for an investigation into Vindman, in which the Pentagon found no suggestion of misconduct on his part.

Vindman’s lawyer responded with this statement: “Through a campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation, the President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President. Between honoring his oath or protecting his career. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers.”

What are you thoughts on this, and what do you think it means for the future of public servants coming forward when they believe higher-ups have abused their power? Thank you. — Jeremy T.

Let me refer you, Jeremy, to Jen’s observation above. Beyond that, the president had the right to do what he did. But that didn’t make it right. Our president is not a gracious man. And that’s putting it mildly.

 


Thanks, everyone! You can send me questions for next week using the form below! You can also read previous Q&A sessions by clicking here.




Off the Cuff: Trump’s Supposedly “Dark and Divisive” Speech

Liberal media outlets heard something in President Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech that a lot of regular folks simply didn’t.

That’s the topic of my Off the Cuff audio commentary this week. You can listen to it by clicking on the play (arrow) button below.

 

Editor’s Note: If you enjoy these audio commentaries (along with the weekly columns and Q&A sessions), please use the Facebook and Twitter buttons to share this page with your friends and family. Thank you! 

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Donald Trump and the Silent Majority — Part 2

In a recent column I asked this question: Is there a new silent majority in America like the one that surfaced 50 years ago and helped Richard Nixon win the White House, twice.

And if there is, are these “ordinary” Americans repulsed by what they’re watching on TV – the riots, the looting, the general disrespect for authority – just as Nixon’s silent majority was repulsed by the chaos of that day.

I acknowledged that I didn’t know the answer. I thought it was possible that America had moved so far to the left that the progressives had already taken over the culture, much as they had taken over some of our elite universities.

Maybe the silent majority was an idea whose time had come – and gone.

And I ended my column with this:  “No one knows how revolutions will end – not even the revolutionaries.  But if there is a new silent majority, like the old one that didn’t like what they were watching on TV, November 3, 2020 may not turn out the way the revolutionaries are hoping.”

Despite the suggestion that the revolutionaries might actually help Mr. Trump win re-election, I wasn’t trying to say that frustrated Americans, like the unhinged anchorman in Network were saying, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.”

Again, that may be the case, but I readily admit, I just don’t know.

But there may be an even more potent force that will influence the presidential election than the chaotic images on TV.

And that force would be … Donald J. Trump.

The silent majority – if it exists – will have to make a decision on Election Day:  Will those silent Americans show their disgust with the mob by voting for Donald Trump … or will they conclude that as bad as the mob is, Donald Trump is worse.  That he’s a bigger threat to America than the looters.

I wouldn’t bet a nickel on the answer to that question.  But I do know that the polls – at the moment — aren’t looking good for the president. He’s losing to Joe Biden nationally and more importantly he’s trailing Biden in crucial battleground states too.

The mob that tears down monuments, defaces historic churches, sets up no-police-allowed “autonomous zones” are causing chaos in America, that’s for sure.  But Donald Trump has caused more than a little chaos of his own during his presidency.  A lot of Americans are just plain exhausted.  Every day there’s something new that divides our country, some new controversy, some new dopey tweet, some new reason to question his honesty and his competence.

At his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, President Trump said, “the silent majority is stronger than ever before” suggesting those “ordinary” Americans will rise up and carry him across the finish line.

He may be right.  But if Donald Trump loses, it won’t be Joe Biden who beat him.  It will be Donald Trump who beat Donald Trump. If he loses his combative character will finally have caught up with him.

The silent majority may yet save this president. That is, if there really is a silent majority anymore.