Liberal Writer Shreds NYT for 'Inventing' New Standards to Renounce Tom Cotton's Op-Ed on George Floyd Riots

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Posted: Jun 06, 2020 3:05 AM
Liberal Writer Shreds NYT for 'Inventing' New Standards to Renounce Tom Cotton's Op-Ed on George Floyd Riots

Source: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Well, progressive reporter Michael Tracey has been going on the offensive against those on his own side who he views as total lunatics regarding the Trump-Russia collusion myth and the recent blowup at The New York Times over Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-AR) op-ed about quelling the unrest in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police. Floyd’s death is an outrage. There was agreement on that across the political spectrum, and then the riots broke out. Whatever outrage is put on the back burner as people want law and order back. They don’t want their businesses looted and burned. And now the crazies have filled the void, calling for the abolishment of law enforcement. 

Yet, Cotton’s op-ed also brought Slate’s Will Saletan into the mix, where he also wrecked The New York Times for their weak sauce editor’s note denouncing the piece. Saletan is a liberal. He admits that Cotton’s ideas are bad in the piece, but also noted that the publication’s reasoning for denouncing it are trash. They’re a “fraud,” made up to give a reason to offer those woke writers who have gone ballistic over it. Yeah, these progressive snowflakes are so unhinged it got Saletan to defend a conservative Republican. 

Here’s what the NYT added to explain why they caved to the mob:

After publication, this essay met strong criticism from many readers (and many Times colleagues), prompting editors to review the piece and the editing process. Based on that review, we have concluded that the essay fell short of our standards and should not have been published.

The basic arguments advanced by Senator Cotton — however objectionable people may find them — represent a newsworthy part of the current debate. But given the life-and-death importance of the topic, the senator’s influential position and the gravity of the steps he advocates, the essay should have undergone the highest level of scrutiny. Instead, the editing process was rushed and flawed, and senior editors were not sufficiently involved. While Senator Cotton and his staff cooperated fully in our editing process, the Op-Ed should have been subject to further substantial revisions — as is frequently the case with such essays — or rejected.

For example, the published piece presents as facts assertions about the role of “cadres of left-wing radicals like antifa”; in fact, those allegations have not been substantiated and have been widely questioned. Editors should have sought further corroboration of those assertions, or removed them from the piece. The assertion that police officers “bore the brunt” of the violence is an overstatement that should have been challenged. The essay also includes a reference to a “constitutional duty” that was intended as a paraphrase; it should not have been rendered as a quotation.

Beyond those factual questions, the tone of the essay in places is needlessly harsh and falls short of the thoughtful approach that advances useful debate. Editors should have offered suggestions to address those problems. The headline — which was written by The Times, not Senator Cotton — was incendiary and should not have been used.

Finally, we failed to offer appropriate additional context — either in the text or the presentation — that could have helped readers place Senator Cotton’s views within a larger framework of debate.

The thing is even Saletan cites articles noting acts of left-wing violence being captured in these riots. It’s not inaccurate. But that’s not the point. 

As he wrote, “Are these clips airtight proof? No. Are they as strong as the evidence for many lefty op-eds published by NYT? Absolutely. That's NYT's real ‘standard.’ But for Cotton, they're inventing another.”

Saletan even admitted that the piece was “mild” for Cotton, with whom he probably disagrees with on almost every issue, but again he notes the two separate rules, adding “we've all read harsh lefty op-eds in NYT. By this point, the note is just spinning moral objections as matters of editorial quality…this note is a fraud. NYT is looking for a way to renounce an argument it regrets publishing. They pretend it's about ‘standards.’ It's not.”

He then said he never thought he’d be defending someone like Cotton, but this is 2020—a year where anything literally is possible. And Saletan's honest analysis should be credited. He's probably going to catch hell for it though, but maybe not as bad as NYT columnist Bari Weiss who noted the "civil war" that has erupted at the publication. 

H/T Ed Morrissey