Michelle Goldberg says departing New York Times colleague Bari Weiss 'had a point'

Suzanne Smalley
·Reporter
Michelle Goldberg (Facebook)
Michelle Goldberg. (Michelle Goldberg via Facebook)

New York Times opinion columnist Michelle Goldberg told Yahoo News on Friday that she is conflicted about the high-profile resignation of right-leaning opinion section colleague Bari Weiss, who Goldberg said “had a point” about a culture of intolerance at the newspaper.

Weiss quit the paper earlier this week, blaming an “illiberal environment,” which she said allowed her to be ostracized by colleagues who disagreed with her point of view. But Goldberg said that while she thinks the bullying that Weiss described in her resignation letter must have been difficult for her, she also is critical of her former colleague.

Goldberg told Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” podcast that she is frustrated by people who “hold themselves up as free speech defenders and yet also are kind of willing to proscribe the speech of people that they really disagree with. So one of the things that has really frustrated people about Bari, for example, is her attitude towards pro-Palestinian speech and towards the advocacy of causes that I think she [Weiss] holds in contempt."

Goldberg expressed sadness over the bullying, saying she doesn’t know how Weiss tolerated it.

“I would have found it extremely hard to work in a place where I was excoriated the way she was excoriated,” Goldberg said. “I would have found that just unbearable and it makes me really sad how it all ended and I think it’s complicated. ... In some cases she was really brave and in some cases she was really, really wrong.”

Goldberg is one of the Times’ strongest left-wing voices on the editorial page. In a column published Friday, she made clear she is a longtime critic of left-wing intolerance for dissent, but was equally blunt about her aversion to the term “cancel culture,” which she said “has been rendered sort of useless because it’s so often used by right-wing whiners like Ivanka Trump who think protests against them violate their free speech.”

The White House on Wednesday blamed “the cancel culture movement” for criticizing Ivanka Trump after she tweeted a photo of herself holding a can of beans manufactured by Goya, whose CEO lavished praise on the president last week, sparking a boycott.

But Goldberg also takes issue with cancel culture, writing in her column that it is spreading “through workplace discipline, including firings. It’s the involvement of human resources departments in compelling adherence with rapidly changing new norms of speech and debate that worries me the most.”

Goldberg pointed to the firing of David Shor, a data analyst at the progressive consulting firm Civis Analytics, because he tweeted about a study that hypothesized the social unrest of the 1960s helped pave the way for Richard Nixon’s election in 1968.

“It’s bananas,” Goldberg said. “This is someone who it’s a loss not to have.”

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