Nothing is more profoundly depressing to journalists, or anyone who writes for a living, than looking at the kind of shit The Market rewards and comparing it to one's own attempts to put something decent and useful out into the world. I imagine every fiction writer slaving away on what they believe is the very best novel they can produce feels a cold, bitter spite welling up inside of themselves every time they realize EL James and her "The vampire fucked the other vampire very erotically, with his erect vampire member" fanfic are worth a billion dollars.

There are a lot of bad opinion columnists in the world, but none as bad as Bari Weiss. The reason Bari Weiss infuriates writers so much is not simple jealousy – she writes for the New York Times and she's terrible! – because a lot of shitty writers have good, high-paying jobs for major media outlets. Half of her NYT colleagues could be described the same way. It is the fact that aside from having terrible opinions, her writing literally is indistinguishable from a college newspaper opinion writer. You could go to any campus in the United States, pluck out the eagerest sophomore from the Opinion page, and stick that person in the NYT and not miss a beat. Her writing is so thick with the tropes one thought were clever and edgy at age 20 that, unless you were an undergrad journalism major at some point, I'm not sure I can explain it to you.

This week her column for the Newspaper of Record, the hallowed Gray Lady, is literally "How I spent my summer vacation." Woman goes on vacation, comes back from vacation, writes a piece about how the place she went on vacation "has a lot to teach us."

I don't know about you, but the last time I wrote "What I did on my vacation" I was 10.

To be certain, all that differentiates Weiss from other bad writers like David Brooks, Bret Stephens, Megan McArdle, and the like is her total lack of polish and erudite "New York Timesy" writing skill. The others share her dumb, juvenile opinions but their employers pay them for their ability to write up dumb, juvenile opinions in an Ivy Leagueish, Upper Crust, Country Club sort of way. It's the George Will trick – they are paid to say things a certain audience wants to hear in a language and manner that allows them to consider it an intelligent, worldly point of view. They want someone to make the opinions sound respectable. Thoughtful, even.

That is the whole point of someone like David Brooks or Ross Douthat, or older, less relevant past stars of the printed word like Mr. Will or Peggy Noonan. They are to modern politics what courtiers were to the courts of European monarchs; they exist to flatter. To tell people of a certain worldview that said worldview is proper, correct, respectable, intelligent and – importantly – widely shared. Yes m'lord, you are most wise! The people certainly agree with you!

And I don't understand how Weiss fits into that world. She writes literally like a child. What is the audience for this? Tech Bros want to read Megan McArdle, not Tomi Lahren. Bankers want Ross Douthat, not Charlie Kirk. People of a certain level of wealth and cultural awareness / class want to feel smart, so I understand the lucrative market for writers who can tell them that the things they believe are good and correct and widely shared in a way that makes them feel smart. What they don't want is someone who failed to progress out of writerly adolescence making them feel like they're in high school listening to a moron soft-sell upper class authoritarianism.

I get the grift. But even in the context of the grift Bari Weiss makes no sense.

29 thoughts on “M'LORD”

  • She exists to flatter boomers' dumb worldviews while also validating their conviction that all millenials are sophomoric narcissists.

  • @Adjornjamin:

    Nailed it. She's what rich, condescending boomers think wide-eyed Millennials ought to sound like. As a bonus, her passing off Intellectual Dark Web horseshit as the cutting edge of the counterculture assuages their fears of being irrelevant and/or guillotined.

  • The only reason I can come up with is that the editor, publisher, or someone else that has Significant Influence at the Newspaper Of Record owes Bari or (more likely) someone close to her with Significant Influence a favor.

  • @Adjornjamin:

    Valid point. Uptight Boomer parents tend to be master projection artists, and have spent the better portion of the last few decades objectifying and screwing their kids over depending on how it served them. They're also the NYT's target market. And there's nothing the NYT editorial page does better than facilitate a good ol' fashioned psychological circlejerk.

  • I want to weigh in here that Ed isn’t kidding; George Will makes more money than I’ll ever see writing a weekly column that largely consists of what his dogs are up to, literally.

    After Ed linked a National Review article a few years back I force myself to read an article or two there every day, just to fight news bubble-itis. If you want to read articles from mostly intelligent writers contorting themselves trying to explain why Trump is an idiot and still pandering to his base, there is no finer flaming landfill of dreams.

  • "all millenials are sophomoric narcissists"

    I would still let them use my bathroom!

    "there is no finer flaming landfill of dreams."

    Best.Fucking.Tagline.Ever. for the remake of "The Day Of The Locust".

  • Honestly, her existence and elevation comes as no shock to me. Elevating mediocre white people is something of an American pastime at this point.

  • I've long written here that Ed's posts could easily be transferred to the WaPo or NYT oped pages and, allowing for the necessary expurgation of vulgarisms, elevate the national dialog. Of course he's felt that more keenly than I have! Duh.
    Even in the Sunday Review, which is supposed to include a lot of "think pieces," there is often very little nourishment and less wit. The editors must work hard to keep the place so mediocre, and maybe much of the subscription list includes secret lovers of the status quo who are susceptible to well-educated flattery.

  • @ satrap:

    "Elevating mediocre white people is something of an American pastime at this point."

    It's JOB ONE! PAL!!

    @ anotherbozo:

    "could easily be transferred to the WaPo or NYT oped pages and, allowing for the necessary expurgation of vulgarisms"

    So, my comments are just right the fuck out, then?

  • I'm a white person. I think I'm brilliant, not mediocre, so maybe that's my problem, but what I want to know is: How does a mediocre white person get a job like that? Why isn't anybody tapping me?

    Seriously, though, is her dad somebody? Her mom? How does she get that job??

  • This can't be legit. Her column reads like an infomercial. I'm surprised she didn't mention the in-flight entertainment on her Qantas flight.

  • "They didn't have a full time Zionist on staff." -DMC

    Yeah, this. Her exploits trying to get any who dares question the supremacy of Israel fired from Columbia should have ended her career before it started.

  • Ever look back on your life and regret not bullying someone? I bet there's some gold nuggets in her old shit for the Columbia Spectator.

  • Some people have a talent for being annoying/controversial. Lena Dunham. Trump. McArdle. Weiss. That's her gift. Plus she ticks the "cute lesbian zionist" box that NYT was looking to fill.

  • "Cute Lesbian Zionist" will be opening the Lilith Fair, next year.

    No, really, they will. If there's a Lilith Fair, and I can get four hot lesbian gals to form a group that they'll let me manage…

  • "them that the things they believe are good and correct and widely shared in a way that makes them feel smart. "

    I used to do that, but Buddy the Wonderdog took his last nap a week ago, tomorrow.

  • Very late for this, but it was only posted on YouTube on 2/4, and I guess you still see all these even for older posts, so. I've posted links to Jimmy Dore segments before; I don't know if you like him much but I am a big fan. I'm guessing you aren't crazy about Joe Rogan either or Tulsi Gabbard.

    But this is a great breakdown of a few minutes of Bari Weiss's appearance on Joe Rogan's podcast where she makes a fool of herself and JD and crew mock her ruthlessly. I enjoyed it quite a lot. YMMV of course.


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