A senior editor’s dramatic departure from a U.S. newspaper happened because the outlet was spreading misinformation, the Oval Office said.
President Donald Trump believes The New York Times has been widely criticized for mistreating journalists who report fairly because it has increasingly become a conduit for spreading false and misleading stories.
“Wow, the New York Times is under siege,” he said on Twitter. “The real reason is that it has become fake news; they never covered me correctly.”
He gave the example of former writer and opinion editor Bari Weiss, who resigned after working for the paper for three years due to workplace bullying and biased editorial directives.
“They blew it,” the president said. “People are fleeing, a total mess.”
Weiss went public with her scathing resignation letter to New York Times Publisher Arthur Gregg Sulzberger. She accused her former colleagues of describing her writing as right-wing and racist.
“My own forays into ‘wrongthink’ have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views,” she said in a statement. “They have called me a Nazi and a racist. I have learned to brush off comments about how I am ‘writing about the Jews again.'”
She claimed coworkers would target anyone who did not appear to speak with her in a hostile tone, and would shamelessly use social media to defame her.
“Several colleagues perceived to be friendly with me were badgered by coworkers,” she said. “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 … there are terms for all of this: unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge. I am no legal expert, but I know that this is wrong.”
Weiss also blamed the paper for not having a “firm grasp of the country it covers,” allowing Twitter rules to influence editorial judgment, and failing to predict President Trump’s victory at the 2016 general election.
“The lessons that ought to have followed the election—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 said. “Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions … now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative.”
Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang believes the paper’s management needs to change the workplace culture significantly.
“If someone like Bari Weiss feels like she cannot do her best work at the New York Times, they should make some real changes over there,” he said on Twitter.
Author Marianne Williamson echoed this view and supported Weiss for exposing the paper’s toxic culture.
“I agree with Andrew about this,” she said on Twitter. “Principled voices should not be suppressed in this country, regardless whether or not we always agree with them. In her resignation letter, Bari Weiss tells some uncomfortable but important truths that most all of us need to hear.”