Conservative commentator and author Andrew Sullivan on Tuesday announced he is exiting as a writer for New York Magazine at the end of this week in what editor in chief David Haskell called a “mutual” agreement.
“Andrew and I agreed that his editorial project and the magazine’s, though overlapping in many ways, were no longer the right match for each other,” Haskell said in an email to staff.
Sullivan, who joined New York magazine in 2016 after previous stints at The New Republic, Time and The Atlantic, said that he planned to discuss “the broader questions” of his exit as the publication’s leading conservative voice in his final column this Friday.
His exit comes amid a fierce debate among intellectuals and journalists about freedom of expression, the limits of discourse between conservative and progressive thinkers and a concern over “cancel culture,” the cancelling out of those whose views are deemed as unacceptable, often on social media.
But Sullivan did not address these issues directly on Tuesday. “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,” Sullivan wrote on Twitter. “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 did not immediately return a request for further comment from TheWrap, nor did New York Magazine.
Prior to announcing his departure, Sullivan was tweeting and retweeting praise for Bari Weiss, the New York Times opinion editor who announced her own departure earlier on Tuesday. Weiss released her resignation letter publicly, accusing her former colleagues of workplace bullying because of her conservative views and a hostile environment, and blaming the Times’ publisher for allowing it. (A representative for the Times didn’t directly address Weiss’ accusations, but told TheWrap, “We’re committed to fostering an environment of honest, searching and empathetic dialogue between colleagues, one where mutual respect is required of all.”)
Haskell offered praise for Sullivan’s work for the magazine. “Over about four years here, he created a significant body of work, including a handful of essays — on the existential threat of a Trump presidency, on social media and addiction, and on homosexuality in the Catholic Church, to name a few — that were prescient, trenchant, memorable explorations of some of the largest subjects of contemporary life,” he wrote. “He also wrote a weekly column that interrogated a wide range of subjects, and while I found myself often disagreeing with his politics, I also found it valuable to be publishing work that challenged my thinking. “
Haskell drew fire on social media for his remark that “Publishing conservative commentary, or critiques of liberalism and the left, in 2020 is difficult to get right.” Many wondered what was difficult about entertaining alternate approaches to politics: “Liberals cannot TOLERATE much if any criticism of their base believes, and because of their PREJUDICE and BIGOTRY, any minority belief must be suppressed,” tweeted commenter Pradheep Shankar.
Bu t Haskell also suggested that the magazine would continue to include voices across the political spectrum.
“I will continue to push us to publish work that challenges the liberal assumptions of much of our readership,” he wrote. “But publishing conservative commentary, or critiques of liberalism and the left, in 2020 is difficult to get right, and thoughtful, well meaning people can come to different conclusions about it: how to weigh the value of plurality of political opinion against other journalist and community values; whether our current publication does in fact create that environment I am trying to foster; what to think of certain writers in particular. I understand some of the staff come down differently than I do on these subjects, and I am grateful for their private and direct feedback (as opposed to on Twitter, which is a terrible place to litigate anything).”
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