Maybe you’ve read the latest love note to controversial opinions published in the pages of the New York Times. Or perhaps you’ve caught wind of the outrage that staff opinion editor Bari Weiss seems to seek out with each of her missives on the supposed oppression of “free thinkers,” whose views often align with her own, in our media culture.
For the uninitiated: Today, Weiss published a 3,600-word jeremiad in the country’s most prestigious newspaper—complete with portraits by a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer—which declares that “an alliance of heretics is making an end run around the mainstream conversation.” These “iconoclastic thinkers, academic renegades and media personalities” have been relegated to what Weiss refers to as the “intellectual dark web.”
All you need to know about the merits of the piece is to look at who these supposedly endangered dissidents are. Ben Shapiro—who runs one of the most-trafficked sites on Facebook, hosts an uber-popular podcast, and frequently appears on cable TV or in the pages of famous magazines—is among those “locked out.” Others in this sad group include the prominent writer and podcaster Jordan Peterson; the prominent pro-Trump media personality Candace Owens; prominent college Republican Charlie Kirk; and a number of other prominent figures who have spread provocative thoughts by, in Weiss’ estimation, “aligning themselves with people whose views and methods are poisonous.” (For instance: conspiracy theorists, Gamergate trolls, Islamaphobes, men’s rights activists, and any number of other online con artists.)
But there was one marginalized voice left out—a man who saw this important take and needed to make his voice heard: Nobel Prize winner and Times columnist Paul Krugman.
This oppressed blogger feels Krugman’s pain. By Weiss’ metrics, we are both among those silenced in our current political climate. If her argument is that institutional gatekeepers must show more deference to bad faith actors, it is only fair that people at her own institution break with the unspoken convention that they refrain from publicly feuding with each other and criticize the bad ideas bubbling up from within. I have reached out to the Times for comment and will update if I hear back.