Media moguls are resigning at a head-spinning rate, an irrational reaction that’s setting impossible standards and ceding immense power to an unreasonable group of fringe ideologues. This last week has been ridiculous. It may ultimately prove to be a turning point in our culture, one that will cause much further strife.
Top editors are rapidly resigning over allegations of racial insensitivity—most of which are correctable or forgivable if they’re accurate—legitimizing the radical left’s inane and counterproductive policing of our politics and culture. And it’s their own fault. They’ve used elite media platforms to embolden these irrational actors for years. They are failing to meet the standards they’ve promoted. The power transfer is now officially complete. That’s more than a little unnerving.
New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet resigned last week after employees publicly claimed his decision to publish an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) put black Times staffers “in danger.” The paper blamed him for “a significant breakdown” in its “editing process.” There was nothing dangerous about the op-ed. It calmly articulated an opinion held by the majority of the country. Jim Dao, deputy editorial page editor at the Times, was reassigned following the incident.
Bon Appétit editor in chief Adam Rapoport resigned after several writers publicly accused the outlet of “gaslighting” minority employees and other forms of discriminatory treatment. Rapoport faced even more pressure to resign after a 2013 Instagram post depicting him dressed in “brown face” circulated on Twitter. An editor at The Cut was suspended over a politically incorrect comment she left on Rapoport’s Instagram at that time.
Then there’s Stan Wischnowski, formerly the top editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Wischnowski resigned over fallout from an admittedly bad headline: “Buildings Matter, Too.” The article accurately asserted that damage from riots “will ultimately end up hurting the very people the protests are meant to uplift.” But in the frenzied climate, radical standards rule, and even Wischnowski’s apology failed to save him.
Christene Barberich, the top editor and co-founder of Reinfery29, resigned over allegations the publication has a “toxic company culture.” Claudia Eller, editor in chief of Variety, landed two months on administrative leave for calling a critic “bitter” in a Twitter conflict. Legendary Vogue publisher Anna Wintour is now under fire.
Zack Beauchamp and Matthew Yglesias of Vox both offered mild critiques of the “Abolish Police” movement and excesses of progressivism respectively. They also both deleted those critiques.
It's not a good sign that Zack felt the need to all but apologize for the original tweet. In this case, expressing a position held by 90% of American people of color isn't enough. He has to be 'educated,' made to repent.
This is what is going on in many news organizations. pic.twitter.com/NmAVtS5qWS
— Jesse Singal (@jessesingal) June 4, 2020
Ultra-popular quarterback Drew Brees was pressured into apologizing for his argument in favor of standing for the National Anthem. Academics and reality stars are confronting so-called cancellation as well. HBO Max is removing “Gone with the Wind” from its library until a supplementary discussion on race can be attached to the film. “Cops” was canceled. “Live PD” was cancelled. This is only a sampling of the irrational leftism now governing the corporate media.
The culture of reflexive corporate genuflection is unjust, unproductive, and often insincere, but it’s now the dominant ethos. And it means a fringe minority now controls most of the media, which serves an audience that it will struggle to understand, cover, empathize with, appreciate, and communicate to going forward. You can bet the world feels upside down to a wide swath of Americans right now.
Certainly in the heat of national protests, corporations face heightened pressures, and consequently, are more responsive to critics. But none of these resignations are without precedent. Individual cases like these pop up all the time. This rapid string of reservations is unnerving because it indicates a firm industry-wide unwillingness to challenge the cultural left’s power.
Maybe the tide will turn. It would work out in everyone’s favor, fostering a robust, representative, and challenging cultural discourse, making space for disenfranchised voices, modeling tolerance and debate for younger generations. But the far left’s progressive-or-bigot binary is intimidating, and intimidatingly persuasive, and the media has been easily swayed.