Douglas Andrews / Jun. 5, 2020

The Cotton-Picking Times

The New York Times staff revolted after the paper published the senator’s op-ed.

Earlier this week, we wondered whether President Donald Trump had been onto something when he tweeted last March, “The Fake News Media has NEVER been more Dishonest or Corrupt than it is right now.”

Never say “NEVER,” Mr. President.

On Wednesday, The New York Times published a thoughtful op-ed from Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton about the need to restore order across the nation. A day later, the Times was tripping over itself to apologize for having done so.

“We’ve examined the piece and the process leading up to its publication,” went the Times’s initial statement. “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.”

Notice that the Times’s statement never said what “standards” were lacking in the senator’s piece. But we suspect it had something to do with Cotton’s contention that the U.S. military can be lawfully and effectively deployed during times of great unrest. Or perhaps Cotton’s sin was simply in taking President Trump’s side of an argument. Either way, the Times’s speedy retreat was both unseemly and unsurprising.

But that initial apology wasn’t enough for some. Editorial Page Editor James Bennet penned more than a thousand words of contrition, while three Times staffers published an even more exhaustive piece covering that apology and numerous others. (Remember: This is the same New York Times that once ran an op-ed titled “Pedophilia: A Disorder, Not a Crime.” Without apologizing.)

As for Cotton’s piece, it began innocently enough, laying out the fact that “rioters have plunged many American cities into anarchy, recalling the widespread violence of the 1960s.” Cotton then detailed some of this violence and those who’ve enabled it, and he acknowledged the “wrongful death” of George Floyd. But the snowflakes started to melt when Cotton, a former U.S. Army captain and Bronze Star recipient who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the following: “One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers.”

The Daily Wire’s Hank Berrien offers a look at some of the more insightful reactions to the Times’s newsroom hysteria, one of them from an enemy within, staffer Bari Weiss: “The New Guard has a different worldview. … They call it ‘safetyism,’ in which the right of people to feel emotionally and psychologically safe trumps what were previously considered core liberal values, like free speech.” Not surprisingly, Weiss was quickly savaged by her colleagues.

Tom Cotton, of course, is no rube. He’s a Harvard Law School graduate and a deeply serious student of both foreign and domestic affairs. He’s also a Patriot, and the case he made in the Times op-ed was both compelling and widely popular with the American people. And let’s be clear: He is not advocating the kind of totalitarian military force displayed 31 years ago in Tiananmen Square.

Referring to a recent Morning Consult poll, The Federalist’s Ben Domenech put The Gray Lady’s latest capitulation into proper perspective, tweeting, “The New York Times has apologized for publishing an opinion supported by 58 percent of Americans, written by a U.S. Senator.”

Indeed, and within this 58% majority are, as Cotton notes, “nearly half of Democrats and 37 percent of African-Americans.” But the self-proclaimed “Paper of Record” isn’t interested in a diversity of opinion, despite what it might have us believe.

Beneath each op-ed on its pages is the following simple sentence: “The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor.”

Committed? They must think we’re idiots.


Update 6/8: On Sunday, the Times’s editorial page editor resigned, and his deputy editor was reassigned. The editor had apparently not read the op-ed before publishing. So now it bears a big editors note at the top that begins, “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.”

According to polls, 58% of Americans support Cotton’s view.

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