Andrew Sullivan on his ousting from New York Magazine: Staff believed my columns were 'physically harming' them
'A critical mass of the staff and management at New York Magazine and Vox Media no longer want to associate with me,' the columnist wrote
Andrew Sullivan penned his last op-ed in New York Magazine on Friday after previously announcing that he would no longer be a columnist for the outlet.
Sullivan began the column by stressing that the magazine "has every right to hire and fire anyone it wants when it comes to the content of what it wants to publish," but also indicated "the quality of my work does not appear to be the problem."
"What has happened, I think, is relatively simple: A critical mass of the staff and management at New York Magazine and Vox Media no longer want to associate with me, and in a time of ever tightening budgets, I’m a luxury item they don’t want to afford. And that’s entirely their prerogative," Sullivan explained. "They seem to believe, and this is increasingly the orthodoxy in mainstream media, that any writer not actively committed to critical theory in questions of race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity is actively, physically harming co-workers merely by existing in the same virtual space. Actually attacking, and even mocking, critical theory’s ideas and methods, as I have done continually in this space, is therefore out of sync with the values of Vox Media. That, to the best of my understanding, is why I’m out of here."
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The columnist reiterated thoughts he made years ago about how "we all live on campus now," noting the increasingly limited exchange of ideas on college campuses has spilled into everyday life and pointed to a survey that showed only 1.46 percent of the faculty at Harvard University identify as "conservative."
"But that’s probably higher than the proportion of journalists who call themselves conservative at the New York Times or CNN or New York Magazine," Sullivan wrote. "And maybe it’s worth pointing out that 'conservative” in my case means that I have passionately opposed Donald J. Trump and pioneered marriage equality, that I support legalized drugs, criminal-justice reform, more redistribution of wealth, aggressive action against climate change, police reform, a realist foreign policy, and laws to protect transgender people from discrimination. I was one of the first journalists in established media to come out. I was a major and early supporter of Barack Obama. I intend to vote for Biden in November."
"It seems to me that if this conservatism is so foul that many of my peers are embarrassed to be working at the same magazine, then I have no idea what version of conservatism could ever be tolerated. And that’s fine. We have freedom of association in this country, and if the mainstream media want to cut ties with even moderate anti-Trump conservatives, because they won’t bend the knee to critical theory’s version of reality, that’s their prerogative. It may even win them more readers, at least temporarily," he continued.
Sullivan then took the opportunity to announce that he was reviving his old blog the Dish, which he says he will now be able to write "freely without being in a defensive crouch" and expressed his ambitions to launch a podcast.
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"I miss a readership that truly was eclectic — left, liberal, centrist, right, reactionary — and that loved to be challenged by me and by each other," the columnist said. "I miss just the sheer fun that used to be a part of being a hack before all these dreadfully earnest, humor-free puritans took over the press: jokes, window views, silly videos, contests, puns, rickrolls, and so on."
"If the mainstream media will not host a diversity of opinion, or puts the 'moral clarity' of some self-appointed saints before the goal of objectivity in reporting, if it treats writers as mere avatars for their race and gender or gender identity, rather than as unique individuals whose identity is largely irrelevant, then the nonmainstream needs to pick up the slack," Sullivan elaborated. "What I hope to do at the Weekly Dish is to champion those younger writers who are increasingly shut out of the Establishment, to promote their blogs, articles, and podcasts, to link to them, and encourage them. I want to show them that they have a future in the American discourse. Instead of merely diagnosing the problem of illiberalism, I want to try to be part of the solution."
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Sullivan's announcement came the same day Bari Weiss published her scathing letter announcing her resignation as a New York Times opinion editor.
"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," Weiss similarly wrote in her letter to Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger. "Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor."
Weiss alleged that she was bullied by her colleagues at the Times both publicly and privately and was also called a "racist" and a "Nazi" for her expressed views.
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Vox Media, the parent company of New York Magazine, also faced public turmoil after several Vox employees slammed their colleague, Matthew Yglesias, for signing an open letter combatting "cancel culture."
Weiss was also one of the signatories before having left the Times.