James Bennet has resigned as editorial page editor at The New York Times in the wake of fierce criticism by the paper’s readers and staff over the decision to publish a controversial opinion piece by U.S. Senator Tom Cotton.
In his essay, entitled “Send In the Troops,” Cotton argued that President Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act and deploy active-duty military to control some of the looting and property destruction that marred some of the otherwise peaceful protests in U.S. cities. These protests have sprung up to rally against police brutality and systemic racism and were inspired by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Bennet did not read Cotton’s editorial before it was published. It later came out in a tense, staff-wide meeting that the editorial page had solicited the piece from Cotton.
The decision to run the piece sparked an internal revolt at the Times, with staffers sounding off on social media and arguing that publishing the op-ed legitimized dangerous views.
“Last week we saw a significant breakdown in our editing processes, not the first we’ve experienced in recent years,” said A. G. Sulzberger, the publisher, in a note to staff. “James and I agreed that it would take a new team to lead the department through a period of considerable change.”
Katie Kingsbury has been named as acting editorial page editor through the November election. Bennet joined the Times in 2016 after a stint as editor-in-chief of The Atlantic.
“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.”