Commentary

'The New York Times' Is Doomed To Repeat Past Mistakes

Former New York Times opinion editor and columnist Bari Weiss went out with a bang this week, publishing a resignation letter that excoriated the newspaper's management for fostering a toxic workplace.

It's easy to dismiss her grievances as those of a disgruntled worker, except there is ample evidence the newspaper is increasingly intolerant of diverse opinion.

Such straight-jacketed thinking dooms the newspaper to develop blind spots and repeat past missteps, such as the failure to anticipate Donald Trump's upset victory over Hillary Clinton.

According to Weiss' letter, she joined the newspaper after the election led Executive Editor Dean Baquet to recognize the Times"didn't have a firm grasp on the country it covers."

As part of an effort to broaden the ideological range of its widely read editorial page, opinion editor James Bennet hired Weiss from The Wall Street Journal, where she was an associate books editor. Bennett also recruited Pulitzer-winning columnist Bret Stephens, who would later describe himself as a "NeverTrumper," from the Journal.

Weiss didn't disappoint in stirring the pot, either in columns that questioned whether Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh should have been disqualified by sexual-assault allegations or a tweet that labeled a U.S. Olympic skater from California as an immigrant.

Weiss' departure came five weeks after Bennet, who was no stranger to controversy at the Times, quit amid withering criticism for publishing an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. The senator called for the federal government to send the military into U.S. cities to quell riots that had erupted amid protests against racism and police brutality after the killing of George Floyd.

Following a staff revolt in response to Cotton's op-ed, the Times pledged to cut the number of op-eds and expand its fact-checking to ensure the editorial content meets its standards. That's fine, but it doesn't provide any reassurance that the newspaper will be open to a range of political opinions and avoid blind spots in its coverage.

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