Head Of ‘New York Times’ Editorial Page Steps Down Amid Controversy

Head Of ‘New York Times’ Editorial Page Steps Down Amid Controversy

The head of The New York Times editorial page, James Bennet, has resigned after he oversaw the publication last week of a controversial opinion piece by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton that called for deploying federal troops to end unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd.

The newspaper on Sunday announced the resignation of Bennet, who became editor of the page in 2016. In a note to staff announcing the departure, publisher A.G. Sulzberger cited “a significant breakdown in our editing processes.”

The strident tone of the editorial published Wednesday, titled “Send in the Troops,” along with a number of questionable assertions made by the Arkansas lawmaker, reportedly elicited strong objections from not only readers, but also from the staff of the editorial page and newsroom.

In a lengthy editor’s note appended to the online version of the editorial, the Times said it “fell short of our standards and should not have been published.”

It said Cotton’s assertion that “cadres of left-wing radicals like antifa” were involved in violence at protests “has not been substantiated.” The editor’s note also said the senator’s claim that the police “bore the brunt” of violence at the protests was overstated.

Initially, Bennet, who is the brother of Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, sought to defend the editorial’s publication, writing a follow-up that appeared in the Times the day after Cotton’s editorial. In it, Bennet said he personally objected to the idea of sending federal troops to control protests, but that it was important to represent other points of view in the pages of the newspaper.

“We published Cotton’s argument in part because we’ve committed to Times readers to provide a debate on important questions like this,” he wrote. “It would undermine the integrity and independence of The New York Times if we only published views that editors like me agreed with, and it would betray what I think of as our fundamental purpose — not to tell you what to think, but to help you think for yourself.”

Source: NPR

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