Former New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet opened up about the backlash he received for publishing an op-ed from Arkansas GOP Sen. Tom Cotton advocating for National Guard deployments to stop riots in 2020 over George Floyd’s death.
“I never apologized for publishing the piece and still don’t,” he told the NYT’s Ben Smith, according to the National Review. “When push came to shove at the end, [publisher A.G. Sulzberger] set me on fire and threw me in the garbage and used my reverence for the institution against me.
“This is why I was so bewildered for so long after I had what felt like all my colleagues treating me like an incompetent fascist,” he added. 1619 Project leader Nikole Hannah-Jones spearheaded an employee campaign objecting to the op-ed’s publication, which very publicly targeted Bennet for signing off.
The op-ed met with such criticism, that Bennet included an editor’s note which said the paper “failed to offer appropriate additional context” and asserted that the essay “fell short of our standards and should not have been published.”
Bennet said he regrets including the note in the story. “My regret is that editor’s note,’ he said. “My mistake there was trying to mollify people.” The former NYT editor lamented that the paper had sought, and secured, adoration from the political left and that said development was pushing them in an increasingly partisan direction.
“They want to have the applause and the welcome of the left,” he said. “And now there’s the problem on top of that that they’ve signed up so many new subscribers in the last few years and the expectation of those subscribers is that the Times will be Mother Jones on steroids.”