The New York Times announced Sunday that Editorial Page Editor James Bennet is resigning — amid reports of anger inside the company over the publication of an op-ed from Sen. Tom Cotton about the George Floyd unrest last week.
Bennet, the brother of 2020 White House candidate Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., had apologized late last week after previously defending the piece, titled, “Send in the Troops.” Cotton, R-Ark., called for the government to deploy troops as a last resort to help quell riots and looting that emerged amid the anger over Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody last month.
The publication sparked a revolt among Times journalists, with some saying it endangered black employees. Some staff members called out sick Thursday in protest, and the Times later announced that a review found the piece did not meet its standards.
“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,” Bennet said in a statement. “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.”
For his part, Cotton criticized the Times for distancing itself from the op-ed.
“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,” Cotton told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
The announcement of Bennet’s departure was made by Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger in a memo to 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.”
Cotton blasted the Times for a tweet that he said misrepresented his argument — specifically, that he supposedly called for “military force against protesters in American cities.”
“This is false and offensive,” Cotton tweeted. “I called for using military force as a backup–only if police are overwhelmed–to stop riots, not to be used against protesters. If @nytimes has any decency left, they should retract this smear.”
Fox News has reached out to the Times for comment.
President Trump weighed in on the matter by commending Cotton’s op-ed piece, and denouncing the Times as “Fake News.
In the wake of Cotton’s op-ed, the Times announced several changes, including expanding its fact-checking operation and reducing the number of op-eds, opinion pieces written by outside contributors.