Kathleen Parker: “Any journalist doing any wrongthinking will be bullied and maybe fired.”

From a Kathleen Parker column in the Washington Post headlined “A victory for the wrongthink police”:

Bari Weiss’s resignation letter as an opinion editor and writer at the New York Times was a brilliant biopsy of all that’s wrong with the modern newsroom, especially her own, and society more generally — a “cancel culture” that punishes “wrong thinking” and threatens freedom in the most dangerous ways. . . .

The cancel culture has resulted, she says, in the intimidation, bullying and sometimes firing of anyone who dares think or speak outside the narrow confines of the new politically correct orthodoxy.

Weiss’s resignation closely follows the June resignation of her boss and editorial page editor James Bennet, who was pushed out after his section published an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), in which Cotton advocated using military force to quell violent protests. . . .

As Weiss wrote in her letter to “A.G.,” the Times’s publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, who goes by his first two initials, there may well be many among the Times staff who are as concerned as Weiss about the cancel culture that now has reached America’s most influential newsroom. But they dare not say so in public. “If a person’s ideology is in keeping with the new orthodoxy,” she wrote, “they and their work remain unscrutinized. Everyone else lives in fear of the digital thunderdome. Online venom is excused so long as it is directed at the proper targets.”

When Bennet hired Weiss three years ago to help address the obvious gap between the paper’s 2016 election coverage and the country that elected Donald Trump as president, she was honored and inspired, she wrote.

“. . .a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.”

What Weiss, Bennet and others experienced was probably inevitable. I experienced early rumblings of newsroom cancellation in the 1980s when, as a columnist at the Orlando Sentinel, I wrote about feminism’s shortcomings. Judging from the reaction from some colleagues, you’d have thought I was extolling the gustatory rewards of puppy casseroles. Younger women created a quiz intended to humiliate me. At the same time, other writers were slipping me notes with ideas for stories they were afraid to pursue themselves.

My offense, of course, was wrongthink, as Weiss labels it. I was a heretic, who, in a future Twitter world, probably would have been burned at the virtual stake. Though my skin today is thicker than a gator’s, thanks to that initiation rite and decades of hate mail, death threats and anonymous social media postings, I’m still grateful for Weiss’s courage and insight into the devolution of journalistic standards. . . .”

Sulzberger, too, is likely cowed by the wrongthink police. So is corporate America. So are our institutions of higher education. Most have decided it is not worth the risk of certain punishment to challenge the orthodoxy of the relentless left.

But it is. The alternative is four more years of Trump, who lives in an alternate reality all his own and who in one day can tell more lies than most crooks do in a year. But the president calls out the “fake news” with more justification than the Times had for excoriating Bennet — or causing a brave writer such as Weiss to take her premature leave.

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