Bari Weiss’ Career Arc Has Reached the Promoting a Grifter on Substack Stage

The New York Times produces lots of star journalists these days, though with many it isn’t clear why they are a star and more importantly far too many of them seem like they shouldn’t even be at the New York Times, if in journalism at all. Bari Weiss is a prime example of at least the former part of that.

As of the beginning of 2017 Bari Weiss worked as an editor at the op-ed section of the Wall Street Journal, where she edited articles by columnist Bret Stephens. That spring she followed him to the New York Times, where she was not only an op-ed staff editor, but also a op-ed writer. That was apparently part of the New York Times effort to “broaden the range of Times debate about consequential questions” after its “failure to anticipate the outcome of the 2016 election meant that it didn’t have a firm grasp of the country it covers“. Bringing someone who worked on the conservative Wall Street Journal op-ed page, but is anti-Trump seems not likely to have help with that (the same could be said of Bret Stephens). In that role, she quickly became a high-profile figure. The next year she was portrayed in a segment of Netflix sketch comedy show and in 2019 was profiled in Vanity Fair, with a ridiculous looking photo.

In 2020 she resigned following controversy over an editorial by Senator Tom Cotton. In a Vanity Fair article on her resignation, an anonymous person described as a “Times journalist” said this of her:

I will be watching to see if Bari Weiss ever achieves something that matches the exalted view she has of herself.

So how are things going? She’s has moved from the prestigious New York Times to Substack, a subscription newsletter service, where she is currently charging $5 a month to comment on her articles there. Here most recently article there is promoting what appears to be a grifter, no, really.

The first section of this article involves her claiming that she receives many calls from people, which starts this way:

Every day I get phone calls from anxious Americans complaining about an ideology that wants to pull all of us into the past.

That sounds a little odd. How are these people getting her phone number? If you were to do a Google search for that, you come up with the contact page on her website, which includes email addresses for five different representatives for her, again, really, but no phone number. Does it seem like someone with five different representatives is also someone who has random people calling her regularly.

That section ends with this piece of work (emphasis hers):

But the hour is very late. It calls for courage. And courage has come in the form of a woman named Jodi Shaw.

The next section seems to contradict itself, she ends it with this:

Now today, she is resigning from the college.

In doing that — and in speaking out — she is turning down a settlement that would have given her a much easier way out. We need more people like her.

But earlier in the section she notes that the woman already spoke out in October:

In October 2020, after Shaw felt that she had exhausted all her internal options, she posted a video on YouTube, blowing the whistle on, what she says, is an atmosphere of racial discrimination at the school

There are no details in that section as to why this woman would receive a settlement or how much it would be (a possible explanation was that this really referred to was a severance package). There doesn’t seem to courage here, but a grift.

At the beginning of the section, there is a salary claim:

Jodi Shaw was, until this afternoon, a staffer at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She made $45,000 a year — less than the yearly tuition at the school.

The second to last line of the article is this:

If you would like to help support Jodi with her legal fees during this time — and I hope you do — here is her GoFundMe.

That GoFundMe has a goal of $150,000, or over three times her salary. As of writing it is listed as having raised even more than that, $189,557.

It isn’t explained what the legal fees would be for. That and many other questions are things you would think that a journalist would wonder about, but apparently Bari Weiss didn’t before publishing an article on this.

On the GoFundMe page there is what seems like an important claim made, which oddly goes unmentioned in Bari Weiss’ writing or Jodi Shaw’s letter of resignation, which makes up the bulk of Bari Weiss’ article. Namely, that Jodi Shaw says that was put on leave after posting a series of Youtube videos:

Smith responded by placing me on a leave and under investigation. During this time I was offered a settlement in exchange for my silence. In the end it was a decision between comfort or freedom. I chose freedom.

In what was apparently the first of those videos, Jodi Shaw claimed that she was posting the video to organize in the workplace and this was protected:

I want to point out that organizing in the workplace to improve work conditions is protected by federal law, so staff talking is protected.

In watching the whole video I didn’t come away with the impression that was what the video was for, but instead that she was looking to abuse the law, similarly to how people on the other side of this issue have at the New York Times.

Getting back to why she is raising money. On her website’s Donate page as of yesterday, it said this:

Help Jodi stand up to Smith College. Your contributions will help pay Jodi’s legal fees and the legal fees of another staff member who has now also retained a lawyer (!) as well as cover the administrative costs of maintaining this website.

By today that had been changed to:

Help me stand up to Smith College. Your contributions will help pay my legal fees and living expenses, along with the legal fees of another staff member who has now also retained a lawyer (!) as well as cover the administrative costs of maintaining this website.

The change being the addition to her stating that help with her living expenses.

On that page she also mentions you donate through an account she has with, which is a conservative version of the donations for content service Patreon. On the page for her account, it says:

Become a part of the movement. Get exclusive content. Interact with Jodi Shaw.

Bari Weiss makes a point of not only mentioning her salary, but that it is less than Smith tuition, which makes an odd claim in Jodi Shaw’s letter of resignation seem more notable:

Humiliated, and knowing my candidacy for the full-time position was now dead in the water, I moved into my current, lower-paying position as Student Support Coordinator in the Department of Residence Life.

It sounds like she is claiming that she self-demoted herself, which is the kind of thing I would think a journalist would ask more about.

After having read her resignation letter and watch her first Youtube video, I came away thinking that at best you have a situation where somebody wasn’t a good fit with the organization they worked for and instead of looking for other employment they wanted to force the organization to conform to their views, which seems to be what she complaining others did to Smith College. From there it looks like she decided to try a new career in the grievance industry. That seems to be the same industry as Bari Weiss is really in, so maybe it isn’t surprising she would promote this woman without asking obvious questions about what really happened here, which could possibly lead to a better situation, which is what Bari Weiss would seem to want you believe she thinks is important.

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