Liberal journalists at the New York Times are “embarrassed” and concerned about the paper’s credibility because they’re unhappy with the content of its op-ed section, according to Vanity Fair.
The prestigious magazine published a report on Monday that paints Times reporters as angry with James Bennet, who oversees the paper’s print and online opinion pages, because he has added “diversity of opinion” that doesn't coincide with “Timesian values.”
Bennet has even conducted internal town hall meetings to “quell brewing discontent,” according to Vanity Fair.
Bennet is under fire for a sloppy hiring process on the heels of the debacle surrounding opinion writer Quinn Norton and staffers reportedly are unhappy that he has added conservative voices -- such as Bari Weiss and Bret Stephens -- to his staff.
“A surprisingly large amount of his activity has produced outrage, even from inside the building,” Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo wrote of Bennet.
Citing a “senior newsroom figure,” Pompeo wrote, “The newsroom feels embarrassed.” Pompeo reported that journalists “came right at” Bennet during the Times' most recent town hall and a source said that the opinion editor “appeared shaken.”
While the Times has offered conservative voices in its opinion pages in the past, the paper’s employees appear to be thin-skinned because of a combination of President Trump and the rise of social media.
“There’s no question that social media amplifies the freak-outs,” Bennet told Vanity Fair. “Everybody has access to a printing press, and you can join in the debate, and I think that’s really great.”
Earlier this month, an internal conversation among Times staffers peeled back the curtain to reveal there's no end to the hypersensitivities of triggered employees at the Old Gray Lady -- and the Vanity Fair report reinforces it.
Pompeo wrote that “many Times readers believe, with some justification, that only one of the political parties is truly a full citizen of the reality-based community,” and it appears many of the paper's staffers agree with that assessment.
Liberal staffers were outraged because their colleague, conservative columnist Bari Weiss, quoted the Broadway sensation “Hamilton” and tweeted, “Immigrants: They get the job done,” in response to figure skater Mirai Nagasu – whose parents are Japanese immigrants -- landing an historic triple axel at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Many people were upset with the tweet, with some critics pointing out that Nagasu is an American and others simply not understanding the “Hamilton” reference. However, HuffPost reporter Ashley Feinberg obtained the internal Slack conversation suggesting that significant outrage came from Weiss’ colleagues at the paper, and that the sensitivity stretches well beyond the Weiss tweet.
The internal conversation exposed that a significant number of Times staffers were fuming and don’t enjoy working at the paper for a variety of reasons. Some complained that the paper doesn’t have a public editor these days, while others bemoaned the lack of anyone to field a formal complaint. Some of the discontented staffers even seem to think the paper has a diversity issue.
The leaked Slack conversation “escalated” the paper’s public relations crisis, according to Pompeo, because it exposed the anger of “passionate liberals and woke millennials who make up large swaths of the Times’s core constituency.”
Shortly after the “woke millennials” expressed concern on the leaked Slack conversation, the Times caused controversy yet again with an op-ed headlined, “Why yoga pants are bad for women.”
The article, published under the byline Honor Jones, claimed that women “aren’t wearing [yoga pants] because they’re cooler or more comfortable” than sweatpants, but “because they’re sexy.” Women rushed to twitter to criticize the op-ed and based on recent history, it would be shocking if Times staffers weren’t among the offended.
“The beef is primarily with the op-eds as opposed to the editorial page, which remains a champion of progressive values,” Pompeo wrote.
Through it all, Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger has supported Bennet – who is often rumored to be the eventual successor to Executive Editor Dean Baquet.
"We publish dozens and dozens of op-eds a week. Look at them as a whole and you'll see the breadth of voices there," Sulzberger told Pompeo. "Sure, Erik Prince wrote in our pages. You know who else has written in our pages? Bernie Sanders, and not just once. I hear the criticism, and we take this stuff seriously, but I do believe that when you look at everything as a whole, you see a section that's genuinely trying to wrestle with the ideas that are shaping America right now."
The New York Times did not immediately respond to request for comment.