Bari Weiss is an American opinion writer and editor. From 2013 until 2017, she was an op-ed and book review editor at The Wall Street Journal. From 2017 to 2020, she was an op-ed staff editor and writer about culture and politics at The New York Times. Since March 1, 2021, she has worked as a regular columnist for Die Welt.
As a student at Columbia, Weiss took an active role in the Columbia Unbecoming controversy. Following the release of the film Columbia Unbecoming in fall 2004, alleging classroom intimidation of pro-Israel students by pro-Palestinian professors, she co-founded Columbians for Academic Freedom (CAF) together with Aharon Horwitz, Daniella Kahane, and Ariel Beery. Weiss said she had felt intimidated by Professor Joseph Massad in his lectures, and she thought he spent too much time talking about Zionism and Israel for a course about the entire Middle East.
In response to the release of the film, Columbia put together a committee to examine the allegations. The committee criticized Prof. Massad, but emphasized a lack of civility on campus, including from pro-Israel students who heckled some of their professors. Weiss criticized the committee for its focus on individual grievances, maintaining that students were intimidated because of their views.
In her 2019 book, How to Fight Anti-Semitism, Weiss describes the contentious atmosphere during this period as giving her "a front row seat to leftist anti-Semitism" at the university.:94 The activism initiated by Weiss was alleged by Glenn Greenwald to be "designed to ruin the careers of Arab professors by equating their criticisms of Israel with racism, anti-Semitism, and bullying, and its central demand was that those professors (some of whom lacked tenure) be disciplined for their transgressions." Weiss has called Greenwald's characterizations "baseless", saying that she "advocated for the rights of students to express their viewpoints in the classroom", adding, "I don't know when criticizing professors became out of bounds."
In 2007, Weiss worked for Haaretz and The Forward. In Haaretz, she criticized the tenure promotion of Barnard College anthropologist Nadia Abu El-Haj over a book that Weiss alleged caricatured Israeli archaeologists. From 2011 to 2013, Weiss was senior news and politics editor at Tablet.
2013–2017: The Wall Street Journal
Weiss was an op-ed and book review editor at The Wall Street Journal from 2013 until April 2017. She left following the departure of Pulitzer Prize winner and deputy editor Bret Stephens, for whom she had worked, and joined him at The New York Times.
2017–2020: The New York Times
In 2017, as part of an effort by The New York Times to broaden the ideological range of its opinion staff after the inauguration of President Trump, opinion editor James Bennett hired Weiss as an op-ed staff editor and writer about culture and politics. Through her first year at the paper, she wrote opinion pieces advocating for the blending of cultural influences, something derided by what she termed the "strident left" as cultural appropriation. She criticized the organizers of the 2017 Women's March protesting the inauguration of President Trump for their "chilling ideas and associations," particularly singling out several individuals she believed to have made antisemitic or anti-Zionist statements in the past. Her article about the Chicago Dyke March, asserting that intersectionality is a "caste system, in which people are judged according to how much their particular caste has suffered throughout history," was condemned by playwright Eve Ensler, creator of the Vagina Monologues, for misunderstanding the work of intersectional politics. Other sources condemned the article as fundamentally misunderstanding the definition of intersectionality.
In January 2018, Babe.net published an anonymous woman's allegation that comedian and actor Aziz Ansari's behaviour during a date rose to the level of sexual assault. Weiss published a piece titled "Aziz Ansari Is Guilty. Of Not Being a Mind Reader", one of many polarized responses to this incident in the context of the #MeToo movement. Weiss was one of several writers, including the Atlantic's Caitlin Flanagan, who argued that the woman who wrote the piece ignored her own agency, not considering her own ability to speak up and leave the situation. Danielle Tcholakian of Nylon magazine criticized Weiss's arguments as simplistic and indicative of a "generational gap".[undue weight? – discuss]
In March 2018, Weiss published the column "We’re All Fascists Now" in which she argued that members of the left-wing are increasingly intolerant of alternate views, presenting varied examples. Shortly after publication, the piece was corrected and an editorial note was placed on it because one of the examples used was a fake antifa Twitter account. This account had been identified as fake in multiple media outlets in 2017, as a right-wing masquerade aimed at discrediting the left-wing protest movement.
In May 2018, Weiss published "Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web". This piece profiled a collection of thinkers who share an unorthodox approach to their fields and to the media landscape. Weiss collectively described them as the Intellectual Dark Web, borrowing the term from Eric Weinstein, managing director of Thiel Capital. Outlets have commented on and critiqued the label through 2020.
On June 7, 2020, the Times editorial page editor, James Bennet, resigned after more than 1,000 staffers signed a letter protesting his publication of an op-ed by U.S. Senator Tom Cotton saying that since "rioters have plunged many American cities into anarchy," soldiers should be sent as backup for the police to end the violence. Bennet later stated he had not read the op-ed beforehand. Weiss characterized the internal controversy as an ongoing "civil war" between what she called young "social justice warriors" and what she identified as older, "free speech advocate" staffers. This characterization was disputed by numerous other journalists and opinion writers at the Times; Taylor Lorenz, a technology reporter who covers internet culture, described it as a "willful misrepresentation" that ignored the numerous older staffers who had spoken out, while Jamal Jordan, the Times' digital storytelling editor, criticized her for not listening to her black colleagues and instead dismissing their concerns as a "woke civil war".
2020: Resignation from
Weiss announced her departure from The New York Times on July 14, 2020, publishing a resignation letter on her website criticizing the Times for capitulating to criticism on Twitter and for not supporting her when she was bullied by her colleagues. Weiss accused her former employer of "unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge".
In her letter Weiss said, "Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions." She also wrote, "Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times, but Twitter has become its ultimate editor."
Her letter was praised by U.S. Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Kelly Loeffler; Donald Trump Jr.; political commentator Ben Shapiro; former Democratic presidential candidates Andrew Yang and Marianne Williamson; and political commentator Bill Maher. Conversely, Weiss's resignation letter attracted substantial criticism from left-leaning media sources. Alex Shephard criticized the content of Weiss's letter in The New Republic, calling Weiss's resignation a form of "self-cancellation" and part of a pattern in Weiss's work of "taking thin, anecdotal evidence and framing it in grandiose, culture-war terms". Writing in The Guardian, Moira Donegan called Weiss a "professional rightwing attention seeker" and disputed her claim that social media's influence had led to a hostile media environment for conservatives.
On October 27, 2020, Weiss appeared on the American talk show The View to discuss cancel culture, which she called "wrong and deeply un-American"; she continued, "I believe that no one should be hung or have their reputation destroyed or lose their job because of a mistake or liking a bad tweet."
Since 2020, Weiss occasionally wrote articles for the German newspaper Die Welt. Beginning from March 1, 2021 she has worked as a regular columnist for Die Welt.
Weiss has expressed support for Israel and Zionism in her columns. When writer Andrew Sullivan described her as an "unhinged Zionist", she responded saying she "happily plead[s] guilty as charged." In 2018, she said she believed the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but questioned whether they should disqualify him from serving on the Supreme Court because he was 17 when he allegedly committed the assault against Christine Blasey Ford. After backlash in the press, Weiss conceded that her sound bite was glib and simplistic, and said instead that Kavanaugh's rage-filled behavior before the Senate Judiciary Committee should have disqualified him. Also in 2018, she criticized the #MeToo Movement.
Following the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, Weiss was a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher in early November 2018. She said of American Jews who support President Donald Trump: "I hope this week that American Jews have woken up to the price of that bargain: They have traded policies that they like for the values that have sustained the Jewish people—and frankly, this country—forever: Welcoming the stranger; dignity for all human beings; equality under the law; respect for dissent; love of truth." In 2019, The Jerusalem Post named Weiss the seventh most influential Jew in the world.
While attending Columbia University, she had an on-and-off relationship with comedian Kate McKinnon. She also dated Ariel Beery, with whom she had co-founded Columbians for Academic Freedom. From 2013 to 2016, Weiss was married to environmental engineer Jason Kass, the founder of Toilets for People, a company designing and manufacturing waterless self contained composting toilets. Weiss prefers not to label her sexual orientation but has stated that she is mostly attracted to women, although she had been married to a man. Since 2018, Weiss has been in a relationship with Nellie Bowles, the Times's tech reporter.