The New York Times’ recent changes to its op-ed page have resulted in a barrage of criticism from readers and even its own employees.
Editorial page editor James Bennet has implemented a number of controversial changes over roughly the last 12 months, whether it’s his hiring of former Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens, a self-identified conservative who most conservatives find insufferable, Bari Weiss, an editor who plays the act of a reasonable liberal but few readers find very reasonable or sufficiently liberal, or Quinn Norton, who was fired just a few hours after she was hired because of her controversial social media posts.
Such hirings and firings have led to broad mockery from younger readers who don’t find the paper satisfactorily liberal. Any conservative familiar with the paper’s opinion section likely can’t begin to understand this criticism. One just has to look at the slate of features over the last six months that whitewash 20th century communism.
None of that, however, stopped left-wing writer Alex Nichols in The Outline from calling the op-ed page’s strategy of drawing in new readers as “idiotic.”
For now, conservatives can watch the infighting from afar and enjoy the fact that they feel no obligation to pick a side.
Yet tensions seem to be reaching a boiling point. As Joe Pompeo of Vanity Fair wrote Tuesday, senior newsroom staffers say “the newsroom feel embarrassed” by Bennett’s decisions. When asked about the recent attacks his page has undergone lately, Bennet admitted that the job “has turned out to be an incredibly more complex challenge than I imagined.”
Bennet offered to answer questions and concerns about the direction of the op-ed page during a meeting with various Times staffers in December. According to the Huffington Post‘s Ashley Feinberg, one person who attended the meeting called Bennett’s answers to questions “equivocal bullshit.”
Some of Bennett’s answers that particularly roiled Times staffers was that he said the paper is “pro capitalism.”
“The New York Times is in favor of capitalism because it has been the greatest engine of, it’s been the greatest anti-poverty program and engine of progress that we’ve seen,” said Bennet.
The validity of this claim aside, such an answer certainly conflicts with the Times increasingly radical and younger workforce — many of who feel the same as the paper’s most left-wing critics.
“People were not satisfied with his answers,” one staffer told HuffPo. “Since his answers were equivocal bullshit that didn’t really address that the opinion section abuses fact and elevates white male conservative voices under the guise of ‘diversity of thought.’ And that he admits to making mistakes without any concern or even acknowledgement of what the consequences of those ‘mistakes’ actually are.”
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