After publishing an opinion column penned by a Republican Senator, The New York Times buckled under internal and external pressure this weekend apologizing for letting the words of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) appear in the newspaper.
Cotton responded to days of escalating protests and riots across the country by sharing his view that America should 'Call in the Troops' to support law enforcement as cities grappled with escalating violence and unfettered looting. The response by the staff at the New York Times was to assert that Cotton's words – shared by 58 percent of America – presented a threat to employees of color at the newspaper.
Though the choice to publish Cotton's opinion was initially defended by publisher A.G. Sulzberger, further outcry changed the veteran leader of the NYT to apologize for letting the piece run. Opinion page editor James Bennet, brother of failed Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Michael Bennet (CO), said that he hadn't even read the piece before deciding to publish it.
Sen. Cotton says he was approached by the editorial department of the NYT last week to elaborate on comments he made on Fox News about possibly involving the military in the growing civil unrest following the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day. The NYT, he said, asked him to specifically explain what that would look like in an opinion editorial, to which he obliged. Cotton has been fiercely critical of the NYT in their choice to apologize beneath mounting pressure of their staff's complaints.
In his apology, Sulzberger said that Sen. Cotton's piece was evidence of "a real breakdown in the process that produced a piece of work that fell far below our standards." He also cited the age of digital and social media as a factor that contributed to the level of discomfort his staff felt with the senator's opinion. Sulzberger vowed to produce fewer opinion pieces in the future as part of an effort to reevaluate their approach to sharing ideas.
Amid outrage and criticism, Bennet resigned this weekend, handing over the reins to Kathleen Kingsbury, who will now serve as the acting editorial page editor through the remainder of the year. Deputy editorial page editor James Dao was removed from the opinion department and reassigned to the newsroom, also as a result of the controversy over Sen. Cotton's op-ed.
On Monday morning, Sen. Cotton slammed the cowering NYT as having been overrun by a "woke mob of children." He said the backlash had been something more comparable to the take over of communism in China than an American newsroom.
"It turned into something like a struggle session from the cultural revolution in Maoish China where the adults had to prostrate themselves and apologize in front of the woke children that apparently now run the New York Times newsroom," Cotton said of the reaction to his op-ed. He went on to specifically note the average young age of staff at the NYT and a national shift toward liberal activism embedded in curriculums at institutes of higher learning.
"And now the opinion page editor have to resign," Sen. Cotton continued. "Let’s be clear, this all goes back to the publisher and his unwillingness to stand up to a bunch of 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds who were raised on social justice seminars on our campuses."
"Don't expect to see both sides of the story in the New York Times," Sen. Cotton said. He also commended Salzberger's decision to run fewer opinion pieces in the future, noting that would mean less far-left opinions as well.
"I will say in advance to the world, 'you're welcome,' for reducing the amount of left-wing nonsense that you have to read in the New York Times editorial pages," he said. Cotton also warned viewers not to expect anything better from acting editorial page editor Kathleen Kingsbury.
"Look at the woman they appointed on an acting basis to take over that page," Cotton said of Kingsbury. "She is a Far left radical who will throw in with, not stand up to the woke mob of children at the New York Times that get triggered anytime they hear a conservative opinion."
I'm beginning to suspect that the @nytimes is not an objective, unbiased source of news.— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) June 7, 2020