On Tuesday, Andrew Sullivan announced his resignation from New York Magazine.
“This will be my last week at New York Magazine,” Sullivan tweeted. “I’m sad because the editors I worked with there are among the finest in the country, and I am immensely grateful to them for vastly improving my work. I’m also proud of the essays and columns I wrote at NYM – some of which will be published in a collection of my writing scheduled for next year.”
Sullivan noted in subsequent tweets that he has “no beef” with his “colleagues, many of whom I admire and are friends,” and that “the underlying reasons for the split are pretty self-evident, and I’ll be discussing the broader questions involved in my last column this Friday.”
On Friday, Sullivan’s column went live.
“The good news is that my last column in this space is not about ‘cancel culture.’ Well, almost,” Sullivan writes before noting that NYMag has “every right to hire and fire anyone it wants when it comes to the content of what it wants to publish.”
He continues, praising some of the “wonderful” people with whom he’s interacted at the publication. That said, Sullivan offers the reason he believes he was no longer a fit at NYMag:
A critical mass of the staff and management at New York Magazine and Vox Media no longer want to associate with me, and, in a time of ever tightening budgets, I’m a luxury item they don’t want to afford. And that’s entirely their prerogative. They seem to believe, and this is increasingly the orthodoxy in mainstream media, that any writer not actively committed to critical theory in questions of race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity is actively, physically harming co-workers merely by existing in the same virtual space. Actually attacking, and even mocking, critical theory’s ideas and methods, as I have done continually in this space, is therefore out of sync with the values of Vox Media. That, to the best of my understanding, is why I’m out of here.
Sullivan continues, seemingly comparing the dearth of ideological diversity in the mainstream news media to that of academia. He also notes that his brand of conservatism includes many positions with which mainstream conservatives would disagree – including the legalization of drugs, and support for same-sex marriage, among other things.
Sullivan even states that he “opposes” Trump and plans to cast his vote for Joe Biden on November 3.
“It seems to me that if this conservatism is so foul that many of my peers are embarrassed to be working at the same magazine, then I have no idea what version of conservatism could ever be tolerated,” writes Sullivan.
He adds that he’s okay with that severance as he supports freedom of association, adding that the internet has largely swept away the old “gatekeepers” that once stood in the way of broad ideological dissent in the media.
After telling readers about his new venture, Sullivan sounds the alarm, writing that it’s up to the “non-mainstream” press to “pick up the slack” if the mainstream media rejects ideological diversity, places agenda above objective reporting, and views journalists as one-dimensional characters defined by certain immutable characteristics.
“Instead of merely diagnosing the problem of illiberalism, I want to try to be part of the solution,” Sullivan states.
Andrew Sullivan’s resignation comes on the heels of the resignation of another prominent journalist.
On Monday, New York Times opinion writer and editor Bari Weiss resigned, offering a lengthy explanation as to why on her personal website.
Weiss slammed the Times as a paper beholden to the social media mob:
Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions.
Weiss also alleges that she was bullied and maligned by her colleagues at the paper for her “wrongthink,” a seeming nod to the Thought Police in George Orwell’s “1984.”
“Part of me wishes I could say that my experience was unique. But the truth is that intellectual curiosity—let alone risk-taking—is now a liability at The Times,” she adds.
The resignations by both Sullivan and Weiss come amid escalating discussion pertaining to freedom of expression. On July 7, Harper’s Magazine published an open letter condemning cancel culture.
The letter, which was signed by more than 150 public figures, including Malcolm Gladwell, J.K. Rowling, Kmele Foster, Jonathan Haidt, Steven Pinker, and many others, received significant backlash. Following the outcry, “two of the dozens upon dozens of academics, writers, and artists who originally signed the letter … distanced themselves from it, and one has apologized,” The Daily Wire previously reported.
After The New York Times’ Jennifer Finney Boylan apologized for signing the letter, saying she wasn’t aware of “who else had signed” it, author J.K. Rowling called her out, tweeting: “You’re still following me, Jennifer. Be sure to publicly repent of your association with Goody Rowling before unfollowing and volunteer to operate the ducking stool next time, as penance.”
Rowling has been the target of an ongoing cancel campaign after refusing to back down from her beliefs surrounding certain transgender issues, and the ways in which the transgender movement has impacted women.
Rowling’s position has caused several actors from the “Harry Potter” film franchises to publicly distance themselves from Rowling.
Eddie Redmayne, who plays Newt Scamander in the “Fantastic Beasts” film series, told Variety: “As someone who has worked with both J.K. Rowling and members of the trans community, I wanted to make it absolutely clear where I stand. I disagree with Jo’s comments.”
Daniel Radcliffe made similar remarks, stating in part: “To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you.”