News that's fit to print
Sending thanks from the wilderness known as independent media, three months in
In July of last year, I interviewed Bari Weiss for a longform feature I was writing about Substack. “It is not a good thing to live in a society where there is overwhelming distrust in institutions that are supposed to give us a shared sense of reality,” she said. “But that is the world that we are living in.”
For weeks afterwards, I could not stop thinking about that comment.
I remember, too, asking Bari for examples of stories she’d done at Substack that she couldn’t do in legacy media. “Oh my God,” she said with a laugh, “most of them.”
Now, of course, I know exactly what she meant.
Leaving the confines of the mainstream media has been hugely liberating. I had been watching a renegade group of journalists push back on the stifling conformity of our press, launching a dynamic public conversation at Substack. Taking the leap to join them has been as satisfying as it is scary.
This January, I set out to build a current affairs newsletter dedicated to heterodox writers, thinkers, and viewpoints. I wanted to publish the conversations that are often considered out-of-bounds, off limits, in the mainstream press. I wanted to widen the Overton Window. Thousands of you signed up to come along for the ride.
Over the past three months, I have published 39 pieces.
To explore taboo critiques of identity politics, with a range of different writers and thinkers across the political spectrum, including Eli Steele, Christine Louis-Dit-Sully, and Adolph Reed. To dive into the opioid crisis and the housing crisis. To cover billionaire wealth, bringing you new data on wealth inequality in Canada. And to do in-depth pieces on political polarization and how we overcome it. To articulate pointed critiques of identitarian moralism, and the modern left, and to explore the dialogue that ensued.
I have used my freedom to take positions that are unpopular in the media, during the trucker convoy controversy.
Perhaps most significantly, I have used my independence to publish strong critiques of our government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act, from constitutional law expert Ryan Alford and from Canadian Civil Liberties Association director Noa Mendelsohn Aviv — during one of the most politically tense moments in recent Canadian history.
On the podcast, which has had some fifty thousand downloads so far, I’ve hosted guests who’ve taken strong stands on everything from “woke” media, as did Newsweek editor Batya Ungar-Sargon, to free speech, as did British comedian and broadcaster Andrew Doyle and Danish human rights lawyer Jacob Mchangama.
Plus: Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Chris Hedges on mass incarceration, economist Jeff Rubin on class unrest, public policy professor Andrew Potter on the decline of our civilization, and the first interview with broadcaster Jamil Jivani, on his firing, and the hypocrisy of corporate diversity initiatives.
I’m just getting started.
The readership of Lean Out is diverse in its viewpoints; many of you write me regularly to share your thoughts.
You represent the left, the right, the politically homeless — and everything in between. You are doctors concerned about COVID overreach; teachers worried about our education system; authors disillusioned with our literary scene; journalists anxious about the state of our press. You are farmers, and military veterans, and doormen at condo buildings, and accountants, and artists. What you all share in common is that you want a media with more open inquiry, more lively debate and discussion, and more perspectives on the pressing issues of our time.
So far, this is a solo shop, but your subscriptions also help fund freelance editing and freelance podcast mixing. As Lean Out continues to grow, I’d like to build up a newsroom, expand the podcast, and start commissioning guest posts from a range of rogue writers and thinkers.
To date, I have left almost all articles and podcasts unlocked, but going forward I’ll work to ensure that paid subscribers get perks for their contributions, including subscriber-only special live streamed events and exclusive essays.
You’ve also asked for podcast transcripts, and starting this Wednesday, you’ll have them.
This is a strictly reader-supported publication. If you are not yet a paid subscriber, please consider joining us.
Finally, I want to send my thanks to all of you, for all of your support, in all of its forms — the subscriptions, the shares, the thoughtful notes in the comments section, the emails, the Tweets. I appreciate it more than I can say.
Lean Out with Tara Henley is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.