Goodbye, Bari Weiss

January 11, 2022 • 10:15 am

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.

23 thoughts on “Goodbye, Bari Weiss

  1. I concur. I’ve become increasingly frustrated as well. I can only subscribe to so many substacks, thinking of moving over to Andrew Sullivan who, also, happily infuriates me.

    1. I don’t always agree with Andrew Sullivan or Bari Weiss, or their guests. But they present intelligent arguments (often) and are civil. And how can you learn if you don’t confront people who you aren’t 100% aligned with? (This is a question many more college students need to think about.)

  2. That’s too bad….I am right now reading the latest “Hollywood’s New Rules” and it is great column by Peter Kiefer and Peter Savodnik.

    Her intention is precisely to move away from a single-writer platform to promote various writers and investigative journalism (think of the one with, I believe, Kmele Foster on the Central Park “Karen”, and there are other examples). But Weiss will continue to write, and not just introductions.

    I am delighted she is going this route and will continue to support her.

  3. I struggle with these new content-creator focused sites like Substack and Patreon. If your creator of choice isn’t delivering, then you have no content. Or, as you say, if they right a piece about their vacation, that might not be content you need. I feel like there should be a way to subscribe aat a platform-level such that you can pick and choose from specific content across creators, and have the money drawn from a main account on a pay-the-creator-as-you-go basis. If Bari doesn’t have something I am interested in, I could go to Matt Taibbi or Andrew Sullivan, without being locked into one of them. This is one advantage more traditional newspapers or websites that have multiple creators have, they make sure that there is a variety of new content.

  4. Bari Weiss is (or was) associated with the Con-School, “University” of Austin where, apparently, you will eventually in some multi-verse earn a Masters degree in Whining.

    However, they will take your money.

  5. I disagree a little bit in the sense that Weiss is creating a current opinion site and a brand, and bringing other writers in to contribute. I think this is what some successful substackers aspire to. If she’s editing that content and running the business side then I guess that takes time away from writing long-form pieces.

    But agreed her own writing is good and if her site features less of it then that’s a decline in quality. Her podcasts are generally good and often fantastic (I recommend the Wilfred Reilly episode on fake hate crimes) but lots of people don’t like that medium.

    The funny part is that the podcasts seem to require a lot of production (they often feature complex combinations of sound clips from copyright sources) but they are free and don’t contribute to her revenue stream. Weiss herself seems to devote a lot of time & effort to the podcast productions. Maybe that’s her loss leader, and brings in subscribers?

    1. “The funny part is that the podcasts seem to require a lot of production . . . .”

      This includes not a little instrumental “mood music,” for lack of a better descriptor. What is its (psychologically-manipulative) purpose? This seems to be more and more de rigeur in podcasts and media outlet segments. I find it irritating and distracting. At least one major network or cable morning show insists on having a fuzz guitar-prominent rock riff undertone constantly droning.

  6. Agreed. And while one can always ignore comments, her readership strikes me as particularly unhinged, nasty and often irrational.

    1. That would turn me off. I find the opposite with Andrew Sullivan’s commenters on the rare occasion I pop in there.

  7. I was scratching my head about that a bit too. I subscribed somewhat later than you did, Jerry, but, I, too, was expecting a weekly piece, similar to Sullivan’s Weekly Dish.

    I’m going to hang in a bit longer.

    I never read the comments; because they seem to come from a weird end of the political spectrum.

  8. I hear you, Jerry, but like some of my fellow commenters here, I’m going to hang on a little longer. I thought today’s piece by Kiefer and Savodnik was particularly absorbing and insightful. At any rate, I wish Substack would come up with a type of group discount on multiple subscriptions. I subscribe to Bari, Andrew Sullivan, Freddie deBoer, Matt Taibbi, and a few others. I’ll admit I’m a news junkie, but my purse is beginning to feel a cramp.

  9. When the ancient greek Demosthenes criticised his rival of hypocrisy, he must already thought of Bari Weiss. On Joe Rogan’s podcast, and on deplatforming Infowars, she says:

    “I think I support [deplatforming of Infowars]. I don’t want, like—in an age in which people don’t know, okay? A fifteen-year-old clicking through their roku [?] doesn’t necessarily know the difference between CNN, and Infowars, and the New York Times and MSNBC and whatever, and of course some of them other ones have biases, obviously, but Infowars promotes conspiracy theories, and do I want a fifteen-year old kid stumbling into that?’

    In her student years at Columbia, she led the charge to get a professor canceled, as documented in many outlets (from NYT, Guardian to the Intercept). Salon in 2005 titled on the case “The new McCarthyism […] A witch hunt against a Columbia professor, and the New York Times’ disgraceful support for it, represent the gravest threat to academic freedom in decades.”

    Weiss “got involved in journalism through activism” in her own words. When she herself made it to the New York Times, she was instrumental in astroturfing the “IDW” (“Intellectual Dark Web”) in 2018, where somehow a Thiel Capital exec, Eric Weinstein, could frame a corner of the internet as a melange of far right and paleo-libertarian and thereby shoot a crypto-fascist identitarian movement into the mainstream. Weiss’ article already relied on an anonymous website, which contained elements out of the far right field; no explanation given. It was just-so declared, and it flanked other New Right projects, from “Unite the Right” at Charlottesville, to Dave Rubin’s mainstreaming of identitarian neo fascists.

    Weiss also helped blur the lines by publishing fake antifa accounts in a NYT story, which came out later and led to a correction (this is also on her wiki page, sourced). Her entire journalism is marred with such “mysterious” problems.

    For those who don’t know about the New Right and their projects, please consider reading up on the Identitarian Movement, Generation Identity, Defend Evropa, etc. and the far right especially in Europe, e.g. “Far-Right Parties in Europe Have Become Zionism’s Greatest Backers”, in Jacobin mag (see below).

    The problem isn’t that Bari Weiss is a typical New Right advocate, or that she is a typically hypocrite — that’s pretty much expected from this type — the far bigger problem was that she was boring and unoriginal.

    ——
    _jacobinmag.com/2021/09/germany-afd-zionism-antisemitism-israel-nationalism
    _washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2018/03/10/a-new-york-times-columnist-blamed-a-far-left-mob-for-her-woes-but-maybe-she-deserves-them/
    etc.

  10. Jacobin is about the least reliable source of information on politics and international relations. Well, second only to counterpunch.They will defend any excuse for a far left article or individual as long as that person has proven to be adequately anti Semitic and a naive defender of the extreme left. So the far -right supports Zionism? Big deal. Lots of NON right wingers support it too. Maybe the cause is justified…or maybe it isn’t. But to tarnish Zionism because of the views of some of its supporters is a cheap trick and propaganda. It is called Guilt by Association. Maybe there are extreme right wingers who support our Constitution and free speech????Does that mean we have to throw those things out the window? One thing I have learned is that the left will distort or lie to serve its ideology. Comments from Jacobin are no more reliable than gossip. Read their stuff as if it were fairy tales, but more dangerous.

    1. I assume you mean my response. Your argument is backwards. The typical far right is anti-semitic, whereas I show you examples of a New Right, which is (at least outwardly) pro zionistic and which has attracted support from European Jews as well, for diverse reasons. Articles from an apparently Jewish press will show this situation, too: Times of Israel, “Loathed by Jews, Germany’s far-right AfD loves the Jewish state” or Haaretz “A Gay ex-IDF Soldier Is Running for German Parliament — for the Far-right”. This Jewish politician co-wrote an article entitied ‘Why Jews really join the so-called “Far right” parties’ for an Israel National News.

      The Haaretz article also gives you a few insights for France, Netherlands and Germany, parsimonious with the Jacobin article. You should be careful and survey the situation before calling it a “cheap trick and propaganda”, “left will distort or lie” or “fairy tales, but more dangerous”.

      It’s not that Weiss shares zionism with right wingers, and that somehow proves something. It is in reverse: she has advocated for a style of far right similar as you can now find across a New Right, or in the “IDW” and alt right astroturf, where Sam Harris was always the odd one out. But even he noticed it belatedly, as he turned in his imaginary membership card in last November (#225 – REPUBLIC OF LIES), saying he never took it that seriously, (but others did).

      ———
      _timesofisrael.com/loathed-by-jews-germanys-far-right-afd-loves-the-jewish-state/
      _israelnationalnews.com/news/315254
      _ haaretz.com/world-news/europe/.premium-a-gay-ex-idf-soldier-is-running-for-german-parliament-for-the-far-right-1.10244035

  11. Bari W. is NO Sam Harris. She has some good points, but I’m always suspicious of people who “lead with their ethnicity” and at the Times and after she’s always The Professional Jewish Person. ID politics, even of my own “tribe” piss me off.
    D.A.
    NYC

  12. Your critique of her own output is legit, but the guest op-eds are pretty good too, so I’m satisfied having them in her stead. And her podcast is absolutely fantastic, IMHO. Long-form conversations into important topics, with informed and prominent guests. Her discussions are always thought-provoking, nuanced, and miles better than anything you’ll find in the mainstream media.
    I think she’s worth supporting for what she’s creating, not just to hear her own viewpoints.

  13. I cancelled my subscription to her newsletter for the very same reason months ago.. I’m not as patient as you are. And, beware; getting Substack to stop taking money from your account is no easy feat.

      1. It took 3 months. I had no luck with Substack itself and resorted to phoning my bank who eventually refunded the charges

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