It is not just the quitting but the messages behind them which go ignored.
On Monday Ariana Perkary, a former segment producer and booker at MSNBC for Lawrence O’Donnell’s The Last Word, delivered an open essay on her personal website describing the reasons she was leaving the network. In a revealing but not surprising posting Perkary describes an environment that appears not at all interested in journalistic standards and ethics but one focused solely on ratings and pushing an agenda.
Perkay’s announcement comes rather soon following the notable exit from the New York Times by longtime columnist Bari Weiss, and columnist Andrew Sullivan also resigning the same day from New York Magazine over what he described as a workplace of intolerance towards divergent opinion. Two major columnists on the same day noting the media framework is one of rigid bias and hostility towards free expression should be something of an alarm going off.
When she resigned Weiss posted an open letter to the publisher of the Times describing an environment at the paper fraught with dysfunction and a newsroom that became beholden to a new generation of wokeness at the expense of free expression and sound journalism. In both cases the individuals shared in exposing the systemic problems in these media titans, and they both confirmed what many of us have been witnessing in the coverage emanating from the mainstream media.
Also with both cases — they have not been explored too deeply by CNN’s Brian Stelter. The reason he is brought up is that Stelter is the self-appointed media hall monitor, and when these two major examples of a glaring exodus announcing fundamental problems within the structure of news outlets you might expect some coverage born out of curiosity. Instead there has been very little in the way of serious analysis from Stelter.
I say this not from the position of telling a journalist what they are supposed to cover, but from the stance of what his described position is, and on his past reactions. Notably, it was one and a half years ago when Brian covered extensively another case of writers fleeing a news outlet — RedState.com. When two of our staffers quit, claiming there were internal pressures they could not abide, Stelter was more than eager to have them come on his Reliable Sources program and describe the ‘’problems’’ with our site, and the alleged internal machinations leading to their departure.
But within weeks you have some prominent members of top-flight news outlets coming forward with severe accusations of structural issues affecting the national news narrative, and Brian sees little to explore. He hosted one segment dealing with the Weiss and Sullivan departures, but not with a deep exploration from Weiss herself. Instead Brian’s approach was one of ‘Cancel Culture’ being in play, and he hosted Jill Fillipovic and Amanda Carpenter to discuss this matter.
Sure, Carpenter as a columnist for The Bulwark can fit his label of a ‘’conservative voice’’ and thus appear balanced. It seemed curious Weiss herself was not speaking on the matter, when she has been a contributor on his show in the recent past. Fillipovic dismisses the matter entirely, claiming that news outlets are all about multiple opinions — in complete denial of what these names are reporting from inside media sources — and then declaring that it is FoxNews that is truly intolerant of alternate opinions.
We saw Carpenter equivocate, saying there are some Cancel Culture concerns but also many times the claim simply means that someone disagreed with your opinion. What was never explored however in this piece was the very claims made by those who left, namely that there is a rigid mindset within these news sources and there is fostered hostility towards anyone who strays from the dictated narrative. These are serious charges being leveled, and not by outside pundits. Those describing the problem with the framework worked inside that very system. Stelter has no curiosity to check under the hood, however.
Going back to his piece addressing our site, Brian was perfectly at ease with exploring the alleged internal issues here and speculating on what led to those supposed mandates that were the source of professed troubles. Yet when multiple major media outlets are having a number of vaunted names choosing to walk out, and describing very similar and very serious issues leading to their escape, it gets the lightest touch from Stelter. But is this really cancel culture, seems the closest he wants to get to the uncomfortable operational realities described.
This lack of curiosity from across the media landscape means there is no real interest in addressing what is becoming an obvious and glaring problem. This only means the dysfunction will continue, and ignoring the core issues means the press will stay on its course of exposing itself as the broken down system we are witnessing.