John McWhorter cancels Substack column

August 24, 2021 • 8:45 am

This announcement was just sent to me from John McWhorter’s Substack column, “It bears mentioning”. Click on screenshot to see more.

I predicted that McWhorter couldn’t keep up the pace of writing two essays per week in the New York Times and also do his own website AND his book and his regular academic duties at Columbia. Well, I was right, but maybe for the wrong reasons:

I had a couple of thoughts about this.

First, it’s good that McWhorter’s ideas get an airing on a major media site, though you have to subscribe to read them. Because of the wider exposure, I can forgive him for what I once would have characterized as “selling out to the New York Times.” On the other hand, the the paper would never (or so I think) let him write the kind of stuff in their pages that he could put on his own site. His vigorous criticisms of anti-racism won’t, I suspect, fly at the newspaper.

He’s offered to refund subscriptions to his site on a pro-rated basis, but otherwise will freeze all contributions. But if he’s stopping for the foreseeable future, he really should give all the money back now.

Best of luck to him, and let’s see what he writes on the NYT site.

5 thoughts on “John McWhorter cancels Substack column

  1. Hopefully, McWhorter has not signed a non compete agreement that will severely limit his other outside non-print activities such as interviews and panel discussions that appear on you tube or prevent him from immediately restarting his substack column if he is fired by the nyt. I think that it is good that he will reach a larger mid-stream audience with a regular Times feature and that that audience will find his earlier and additional broadcasts to get his full and very important real analysis which might not fit his new column constraints. I was introduced to his very important writings and discussions by weit and will be forever grateful for that. And of course i recommend his analysis to many of my acquaintances.

  2. the paper would never (or so I think) let him write the kind of stuff in their pages that he could put on his own site. His vigorous criticisms of anti-racism won’t, I suspect, fly at the newspaper.

    I disagree. Criticism of anti-racism and of “wokeness” is what McWhorter is known for these days. Whenever he appears on TV or on a podcast that seems to be the topic. Examples are his recent appearances on Firing Line and on Real Time with Bill Maher. Given that these topics account for much of his name recognition what else would the NYT have in mind for him to write about. It’s surely not all going to be about linguistics. And why would McWhorter agree to be silenced on these topics?

    But I do agree that the NYT hiring somebody who opposes anti-racism will be difficult for them to justify in that it does imply that his point of view on this question is legitimate. In that sense it won’t fly with many writers at the newspaper. Could it mean that the NYT has taken to heart the criticism that they have lost their credibility? Perhaps the paper believes that his race has immunized him against demands that he be fired on the grounds of being a racist. It’s hard to predict how those types of things work. Presumably the NYT has acquainted itself with his work enough that we won’t have another debacle like when Kevin Williamson was hired by The Atlantic.

  3. I’m not surprised at all by this, and it means the NYT must be paying him well. Good for him.

    His latest NYT newsletter arrived today. You can be assured they haven’t muzzled him.

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