I don’t mean to imply by the headline that Ms. Weiss is dead, as she isn’t, nor that she’s leaving her Substack site “Common Sense,” which she isn’t, either. Well, actually—yes, she sort of leaving it, and that’s why I’m going to stop subscribing to it it.
When I subscribed to her site last April 28, I didn’t do that lightly, for it takes a lot of impetus for me to pay to read a single-person’s website. But I was a fan back then, after she’d courageously left the New York Times, and I admired both her viewpoint and her prose.
But since then, she’s increasingly handed over the writing on her site to other people—to the point where practically the only things you can read that she’s actually written are introductions to other people’s work or to podcasts she’s done.
I just did a count, deciding to go back to November 1. This was a bit difficult, so I may be a little off, but not that much off:
Total pieces: 39
Total long-form pieces by Bari Weiss: 2 (5% of total)
Total short-form pieces by Weiss, mostly introductions to podcasts or aggregations of other people’s writings: 4
Total pieces by Nellie Bowles (Weiss’s wife): 10 (26% of total), often “TGIF” aggregations of other people’s columns.
There was also one piece by Suzy Weiss, who I believe is Bari’s sister; Suzy wrote several pieces before Nov. 1
Now I’m not complaining about the lack of content here; after all, Andrew Sullivan puts out one piece a week, while here we have nearly 40 pieces in ten weeks. Nor am I saying that the content is all fluff, because it isn’t. Several of the pieces are quite interesting: there are, for instance, pieces by Abigail Shrier and Douglas Murray, and this week’s column about DEI in Hollywood is pretty good.
But I find myself skipping most of the columns. After all, what I signed up to read, or what I thought I’d get, were thoughtful, long-form analyses like the kind Andrew Sullivan puts out. Instead, we get a diversity of views (granted, Weiss is well connected and can rope in decent writers), and now have what appears to be somewhat of a family endeavor, with Bowles and Suzy Weiss weighing in as often or more often than Bari. In other words, we’re getting the whole mishpocheh.
What Weiss has become is an aggregator, not an author. I don’t like podcasts so much, and I wanted to read Weiss, not everybody she gathers under her umbrella. This is a great pity, as I would read her religiously (in the metaphorical sense). I wanted more from her, not from others, who are available all over the Internet.
Now I don’t know why things have worked out this way. Perhaps Weiss, like many who used to write (like Sam Harris) prefers the medium of podcasting. Or perhaps she thinks she can promulgate her political views more widely by enlisting other like-minded people to write for her site.
It doesn’t matter: the upshot is that I’m not getting what I paid for, not reading her site so much; and what I’m getting, while sometimes interesting, isn’t Bari Weiss. I won’t be renewing my subscription come the end of April, and that’s sad.