UPDATE: The New York Times said on Thursday that Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton’s op-ed did not meet the paper’s standards for publishing. A spokesperson said that the editorial process was rushed and that fact-checking operations will be examined in light of the controversy around the essay.
Several New York Times staff members criticized the op-ed published on Wednesday, saying the piece, titled “Tom Cotton: Send In The Troops,” puts Black employees in danger.
Cotton’s op-ed called for the military to use an “overwhelming show of force” towards the nationwide protests over police brutality, following the death of George Floyd.
Jazmine Hughes, a story editor at The New York Times, criticized the piece, tweeting “as if it weren’t already hard enough to be a black employee of the New York Times.” More than a dozen others tweeted similar messages Wednesday evening.
as if it weren’t already hard enough to be a black employee of the New York Times
— Jazmine Hughes (@jazzedloon) June 3, 2020
— Kwame Opam (@kwameopam) June 3, 2020
In response to the backlash, James Bennet, the editor of the Times’ opinion pages, took to Twitter to explain the decision to run the piece, writing “Times Opinion owes it to our readers to show them counter-arguments, particularly those made by people in a position to set policy.”
I want to explain why we published the piece today by Senator Tom Cotton. https://t.co/GvWwf7i0Wu
— James Bennet (@JBennet) June 3, 2020
“The Times editorial board has forcefully defended the protests as patriotic and criticized the use of force, saying earlier today that police too often have ‘responded with more violence — against protesters, journalists and bystanders.’ We’ve also crusaded for years against the underlying, systemic cruelties that led to these protests,” Bennet wrote.
“As part of our explorations of these issues, Times Opinion has published powerful arguments supporting protests, advocating fundamental change and criticizing police abuses,” Bennet added. “Times Opinion owes it to our readers to show them counter-arguments, particularly those made by people in a position to set policy. We understand that many readers find Senator Cotton’s argument painful, even dangerous. We believe that is one reason it requires public scrutiny and debate.”
A spokesperson for The New York Times did not immediately respond to Variety’s request for comment.