NYT op-ed editor/writer resigns over its abandoned journalistic principles

I’ve written scores of highly critical articles about the self-styled newspaper of record.

I stressed time and again that all the news it claims fit to print is unfit to read—notably on major issues mattering most, especially on geopolitical issues, most of all on nonbelligerent nations threatening no one on the US target list for regime change.

The New York Times long ago abandoned what journalism the way it should be is all about—operating instead as a press agent for wealth and power interests.

Thomas Jefferson called an educated citizenry “a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”

Separately he said “[i]t is a part of the price we pay for our liberty, which cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.”

“The only security of all is in a free press.”

Madison warned that “[a] popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or, perhaps both.”

Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, a figure towering in stature over current High Court justices, stressed the following: “[I]f there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable.”

Justice Thurgood Marshall, a redoubtable figure of equal towering stature to Brennan, stressed: “Above all else, the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression [regardless of stated] ideas… subject matter [or] content.”

“Our people are guaranteed the right to express any thought, free from government censorship.”

Noted philosopher/political theorist Hannah Arendt, author of The Origins of Totalitarianism, stressed that “[t]he moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen.”

“What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed.”

When speech, media, and academic freedoms are obstructed or otherwise compromised, all other rights are endangered and doomed.

War on fundamental freedoms rages in the US and other Western societies—fantasy democracies, not the real thing, not even remotely close.

Instead of pursued dedication to core journalistic principles, establishment media long ago abandoned them.

Because of its global reach and influence, the NYT stands out as the leading offender of what these principles are all about.

From 2013–2017, Bari Weiss was an op-ed/book review editor for the WSJ.

From then until resigning this month, she served as an op-ed staff editor and writer about culture and politics for the NYT.

Her resignation letter touches important nerves. Hired to bring “voices” to Times’ pages “not otherwise” heard, things didn’t turn out as she hoped.

Stressing the importance of a “free exchange of ideas,” she discovered that the Times’ editorial policy operates by a different standard.

Instead of journalism that comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable as writer Finley Peter Dunne long ago stressed about his profession, Times’ policy is polar opposite.

It’s worlds apart from how iconic muckraking journalist IF Stone pursued his craft, once saying: “I tried to bring the instincts of a scholar to the service of journalism; to take nothing for granted; to turn journalism into literature; to provide radical analysis with a conscientious concern for accuracy, and in studying the current scene to do my very best to preserve human values and free institutions.”

Ralph Nader called Stone a “modern Tom Paine—as independent and incorruptible as they come [as] journalism’s Gibraltar and its unwavering conscience.”

Nothing remotely approaches this standard in daily Times editions, nor in what passes for reporting by other establishment media throughout the US and West.

Weiss explained that her “forays into Wrongthink” got her “bull[ied] by colleagues” whose views differed from hers.

Calling her names like “Nazi…racist…bigot [and] liar,” she “brush[ed]” off the hostility to continue her work.

It’s no easy task going a different way from groupthink, sticking to one’s own beliefs even when alienating others around us.

I didn’t follow Weiss’ writing so I can’t address her views, most likely differing from my own on various issues.

A friend long ago urged me to submit articles to the Times.

At the time (no pun intended), I explained that the only chance I might have to be published by the Times is if a publication by this name exists on another planet.

I was wrong. A number of my articles were published by the Tehran Times, including one this month.

There’s no chance whatever that what I write would be accepted for publication by the NYT or any other establishment broadsheet.

Truth and full disclosure on vital issues isn’t what they do. Press agent for wealth and power interests is their specialty in print and by electronic media—official narrative advocacy for special interests over what journalism is supposed to be.

Weiss complained about “carefully” scrubbed content by the Times before allowing it in print.

“The paper of record is, more and more, the record of those living in a distant galaxy, one whose concerns are profoundly removed from the lives of most people,” she wrote.

Personal views of staff writers are “cowed” to conform to a higher authority.

Independent-thinking writers beware. Career advancement depends on the following, said Weiss:

  • “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.”

“An independent press is” fundamental. Weiss failed to explain that it’s nonexistent in establishment-land—clearly not at the NYT, what she clearly knows, having an inside front row seat to see it all for several years.

She’s right saying the US “deserves a great newspaper.”

Correction, make that plural and include electronic media that were long ago slammed as a worthless “wasteland”—before infested with countless cable channels with everything to sell and nothing to tell, just worthless stuff to avoid.

I profoundly disagree with Weiss calling America “a great country [sic].”

In countless straight talk articles, I minced no words of criticism about a nation that throughout its history inflicted more harm on more people for centuries than any other country in world history.

If “greatness” is measured by body count and virtually every form of human and civil rights abuses imaginable, the US ranks No. One far and away of all other nations.

The evidence is indisputable, what’s suppressed by the Times and other establishment media—sticking to the official falsified narrative.

By her resignation letter alone, Weiss showed she’s a talented writer.

If what she consistently produces in her work is the truth, the whole truth, and no deviation from straight talk on important issues, I wish her godspeed in whatever avenues she pursues ahead.

A final comment

Readers of my articles know where I stand on major world and national issues. More on this below.

Weiss is a professional paid for her work. I’m an amateur, late to what I’ve been doing pro bono for the past 15 years after retiring from a small family business.

I pursued a liberal arts undergraduate curriculum, followed by business school before entering the formal work force as a marketing analyst, then joining my brother in small family business in the late 1960s.

Except for a valuable freshman writing course and an American Management Association one years later, I had no other journalistic instruction.

I long ago discovered that the more I applied myself to tasks at hand—in school, business, and writing, the more proficient I got.

The old adage about how to get to Carnegie Hall applies—practice, practice, practice.

The wisdom of maturity and more of it is there for everyone who makes an effort.

Woody Allen once said 80%—or was it 90% or more—of life is just showing up.

For better or worse, I learned that lesson early in my formal working life.

Putting in the time and effort to accomplish tasks aren’t the only keys to success, but achievement is unlikely without them.

I strongly believe in world peace, equity, and justice for all, the rule of law, no-punches pulled truth-telling journalism the way it’s supposed to be, real democracy, not the US-led Western fake version, and government of, by, and for everyone, not just the privileged few alone the way things are now.

Clearly none of the above exists today in the US, West, and most everywhere else.

Is any or all of the above possible one day?

I’ve always been motivated by anthropologist Margaret Mead’s saying: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Another powerful IF Stone quote also motivates me, saying: “The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins…”

Another world is possible if enough of us work for it. I try as best I can.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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