January 24, 2021


[Bari] 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.”

Related: James Lindsay on “Psychopathy and the Origins of Totalitarianism.” Exit quote: “Pseudo-realities are, simply put, false constructions of reality. It is hopefully obvious that among the features of pseudo-realities is that they must present a plausible but deliberately wrong understanding of reality. They are cult ‘realities’ in the sense that they are the way that members of cults experience and interpret the world—both social and material—around them. We should immediately recognize that these deliberately incorrect interpretations of reality serve two related functions. First, they are meant to mold the world to accommodate small proportions of people who suffer pathological limitations on their abilities to cope with reality as it is. Second, they are designed to replace all other analyses and motivations with power, which these essentially or functionally psychopathic individuals will contort and deform to their permanent advantage so long as their pseudo-real regime can last.”

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