Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sen. Tom Cotton will not be in print.
That was the official word from James Bennet, The New York Times’ editorial page editor, who addressed staffers at an apologetic virtual town hall Friday, according to a CNN report. Bennet, who previously admitted he had not read the controversial op-ed before publication, added that he’s rethinking how opinion works. Publisher A.G. Sulzberger and executive editor Dean Baquet, who does not not have oversight of opinion, also spoke at the town hall.
The op-ed, which was due to be printed Sunday, caused outrage among staffers and many commentators when it was published online Wednesday.
Titled “Send the Troops In,” the op-ed called for the deployment of the American military to quash nationwide protests over the police killings of George Floyd and others, as well as centuries of systemic racism.
Many Times staffers took to Twitter to express their dismay at the publication of the op-ed, with the words: “Running this puts Black @NYTimes staff in danger” and more than 800 signed a petition.
The publication defended the op-ed, but late Thursday said it did not meet its editorial standards.
“We’ve examined the piece and the process leading up to its publication,” it said. “This review made clear that a rushed editorial process led to the publication of an op-ed that did not meet our standards. As a result, we’re planning to examine both short-term and long-term changes, to include expanding our fact-checking operation and reducing the number of op-eds we publish.”
At the time, The NewsGuild of New York said this is a particularly vulnerable moment in American history and Cotton’s op-ed pours gasoline on the fire. “Media organizations have a responsibility to hold power to account, not amplify voices of power without context and caution.”
The op-ed is still online, but a lengthy editor’s note was added Friday. Part of it reads: “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.”
It added that the headline — which was written by The Times, not Sen. Cotton — was “incendiary and should not have been used.”
A Times spokesman did not respond to request for additional comment.