After publishing a controversial opinion piece, The New York Times announced that their editorial page editor James Bennet would resign after staff and readers alike poured out criticism and contempt. The opinion piece was written by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton (R) who wrote that he believed military force should be used to quell the violence happening due to protests against racism and police brutality. Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger originally stood behind their decision to publish the article but quickly changed tunes amid intense criticism.
Over 800 Times employees said the op-ed should never have been published. One opinion editor wrote on Twitter that “running this puts black @nytimes writers, editors, and other staff in danger.” Sulzberger said the forced resignation was not due solely to this incident but was rather a response to other breakdowns in the editing process in the years since Bennet took over the editorial page. “It wasn’t just an opinion, it felt violent — it was a call to action that could hurt people,” said one Times activist.
“We’re not retreating from the principles of independence and objectivity. We don’t pretend to be objective about things like human rights and racism.”A.G. Sulzberger
The Right believes this is a dangerous time for free speech and points to the Times debacle as evidence. Fox News reporter Alex Berenson, who was a former Times reporter, wrote that the newspaper used to stand for honesty and “encourage discussion and debate” but now stands for “the values of conformity and groupthink and stifling dissent.” Some have pointed to the hypocrisy of Sulzberger’s comment about the article’s tone being “needlessly and deliberately inflammatory,” pointing out similarly harsh articles written by the Left that have gone unscrutinized.
“For democracy to flourish, we all need to be willing to hear each other. But if the most powerful platforms in American media are afraid to run voices that might make people uncomfortable, how can we?”Alex Berenson