Former New York Times Opinion Editor Bari Weiss embarrassed CNN’s Brian Stelter on his show “Reliable Sources” on Sunday when she pointed out that it is corporate media networks such as CNN pushing false narratives that contribute to silencing viewpoints and cancel culture.
“When you have the chief reporter on the beat of COVID for The New York Times talking about how questioning or pursuing the question of the lab leak is racist, the world has gone mad. When you’re not able to say out loud and in public that there are differences between men and women, the world has gone mad. When we’re not allowed to acknowledge that rioting is rioting and it is bad and that silence is not violence, but violence is violence, the world has gone mad. When we’re not able to say that Hunter Biden’s laptop is a story worth pursuing, the world has gone mad. When, in the name of progress, young school children as young as kindergarten, are being separated in public schools because of their race and that is called progress rather than segregation, the world has gone mad. There are dozens of examples that I could share with you,” Weiss explained.
When Stelter asked exactly “who are the people stopping the conversation?” Weiss noted that CNN is a key media player when it comes to promoting a certain agenda and silencing certain stories if they don’t fit the narrative.
“People who work at networks, frankly, like the one I’m speaking on right now, who try and claim that it was racist to investigate the lab leak theory,” Weiss said.
Stelter was dissatisfied with her answer and, in a tone-deaf reply, claimed that Weiss’s assertion was merely a “provocative” statement that held no water.
“I’ve heard about every story you mentioned, so I’m just suggesting, of course, people are allowed to cover whatever they want to cover,” Stelter said.
“But you and I both know, and it would be delusional to claim otherwise, that touching your finger to an increasing number of subjects that have been deemed third-rail by the mainstream institutions and increasingly by some of the tech companies will lead to reputational damage,” Weiss retorted. “Perhaps you losing your job, your children sometimes being demonized as well, and so what happens is a kind of internal self-censorship. This is something that I saw over and over again when I was at The New York Times.”
Not only are people intimidated, Weiss said, but the institutional culprits dictating speech are getting bolder.
“What’s going on is the transformation of the sense-making institutions of American life. It’s the news media, it’s the publishing house, it is the Hollywood studios, it’s our universities, and they are narrowing in a radical way what’s acceptable to say and what isn’t,” Weiss said.
Weiss explained that there are plenty of examples of cancel culture such as when Dorian Abbot, a geophysicist at the University of Chicago, was stopped from giving a lecture at MIT after a “Twitter mob” brought up his comments supporting meritocracy.
“What are the downstream effects of an example like that? Every other scientist, every other academic who’s watching that is saying, ‘Wait, hold on, if he’s being canceled for that, what does that mean for me? I might as well shut up. I might as well practice doublethink in the freest society in the history of the world,'” Weiss said. “That is one of the great stories of our time. That is the story that’s been uncovered largely not because of disinformation or not because they’re lying about it, simply because they’re ignoring it, it’s disinformation by omission.”
Stelter, however, overlooked Weiss’s points that this misinformation and cancel culture are promoted by media networks and other powerful institutions, to absolve himself from any blame and shift the burden to Twitter mobs.
“When there is a crowd on Twitter or some other social media site, complaining, you know, saying ‘you’ve offended me, you’ve hurt me, you’ve been racist, you’ve been sexist, you’ve been whatever it is,’ and then that Twitter mob can sound really loud and really powerful, it’s actually still a small number of people,” Stelter said. “But we do see companies sometimes cave to what sounds like a huge crowd that’s actually pretty small. And that is a story that’s happened over and over again, and it sounds like you’re trying to push back against that.”