NYT opinion page editor steps down amid backlash over Tom Cotton op-ed

The New York Times announced on Sunday the resignation of editorial editor James Bennet, Fox News reported.

The move is part of the outlet’s response to the backlash that followed Bennet’s decision to publish an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR). In the piece, which discussed the riots that have swept major cities across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death, Cotton defended the use of the U.S. military — but only as a last resort — to help quell the violent protests.

Following the publication of the op-ed, outrage ensued among the ranks of the paper’s employees, who claimed that the Cotton op-ed actually endangered the lives of some of the outlet’s black staffers.

The Times then conducted a review of the Cotton piece and apparently determined that it did not meet their editorial standards. As a result, the Times says it has expanded its fact-checking operation, reduced the number of op-eds from outside contributors, and seemingly hastened Bennet’s decision to resign, according to Fox News.

From defense to apology

Why was the editor essentially ousted? Because Bennet, who happens to be the brother of Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), initially defended the publication of Cotton’s op-ed.

It didn’t take long following that initial defense, however, for Bennet and the Times to realize their “mistake,” and to attempt to make amends by issuing apologies, Fox noted.

Cotton, at the time, blasted the Times for shifting from first defending his piece to then apologizing for it, saying:

The New York Times editorial page editor and owner defended it in public statements but then they totally surrendered to a woke child mob from their own newsroom that apparently gets triggered if they’re presented with any opinion contrary to their own, as opposed to telling the woke children in their newsroom this is the workplace, not a social-justice seminar on campus.

When all else fails, resign

In the meantime, Bennet’s apology failed to get the job done. In response, the paper’s publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, announced Bennet’s resignation in a memo written to the Times’ staff.

“Last week we saw a significant breakdown in our editing processes, not the first we’ve experienced in recent years,” Sulzberger wrote. “James and I agreed that it would take a new team to lead the department through a period of considerable change.”

According to the Washington Examiner, Bennet released his own statement, writing:

The journalism of Times Opinion has never mattered more than in this time of crisis at home and around the world, and I’ve been honored to be part of it. I’m so proud of the work my colleagues and I have done to focus attention on injustice and threats to freedom and to enrich debate about the right path forward by bringing new voices and ideas to Times readers.

Trump weighs in

President Donald Trump gave his own opinion about Bennet’s resignation on Twitter, stating:

Opinion Editor at [The New York Times] just walked out. That’s right, he quit over the excellent Op-Ed penned by our great Senator [Tom Cotton]. TRANSPARENCY! The State of Arkansas is very proud of Tom. The New York Times is Fake News!!!

It’s hard to argue with the president’s “fake news” label on this one. After all, the Times has now reached a point where any expressions of opinion that diverge from the liberal line are flatly disallowed.

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