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#‘New York Times’ editor squirms on the hot seat over Tom Cotton op-ed

‘New York Times’ editor squirms on the hot seat over Tom Cotton op-ed

June 4, 2020 | 10:04pm

New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet on Thursday gave a half-hearted defense of his decision to run a controversial op-ed column by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) that called for military action to subdue protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

The Wednesday op-ed piece, entitled “Send in the Troops,” had sparked an uproar among the Gray Lady’s own journalists. Nikole Hannah-Jones, who won the Pulitzer Prize last month for the Times’ “1619 Project,” said on Twitter: “As a black woman, as a journalist, as an American, I am deeply ashamed that we ran this.”

In response, Bennet signaled that the paper published the piece in an attempt to give Times readers a perspective beyond the liberal echo chamber.

“It would undermine the integrity and independence of the New York Times if we only published views that editors like me agreed with, and it would betray what I think of as our fundamental purpose — not to tell you what to think, but to help you think for yourself.”

The NewsGuild, the union that represents over 1,200 rank-and-file journalists at The Times, countered that publishing the piece promoted hate and endangered the papers’ own reporters in the field.

“His message undermines the journalistic work of our members, puts our black staff members in danger, promotes hate and is likely to encourage further violence. Invariably, invoking state violence disproportionately hurts black and brown people,’” the guild said.

Bennet, in turn, admitted he believed the union had a point, concluding, “I know that my own view may be wrong.”


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