The resignation of James Bennet as The New York Times’ editorial page editor after publishing an op-ed essay that triggered a staff revolt is an outrage.
Not only is the publisher’s decision to push out Bennet and demote James Dao, his deputy, cowardly and wrongheaded, it is yet another betrayal of the paper’s ostensible values and traditions. It also reflects the worst trends in American journalism.
Bennet’s mortal sin was publishing, in the opinion pages he supervised, an essay by right-wing Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, of Arkansas, urging President Trump to deploy U.S. military forces against protesters in American cities to help overwhelmed local police stop rioting and looting and restore order following the brutal killing of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis police force.
While Bennet and A.G. Sulzberger, the paper’s publisher, initially defended the decision in the name of exposing readers to “counter-arguments, particularly those made by people in a position to set policy,” both soon caved to the fury of the paper’s own staff and readers.
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