Fired New York Times Editor: NYTs ‘Lost Its Way’

Former New York Times editor James Bennet, who resigned under pressure in 2020 for running an anti-riots piece by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), hit back at his former employer in a recent article for The Economist.

Recalling when the New York Times’ publisher, A. G. Sulzberger, asked him to resign, Bennet wrote in the Economist this week, “Like me, [senior editor] Baquet seemed taken aback by the criticism that Times readers shouldn’t hear what Cotton had to say. Cotton had a lot of influence with the White House, Baquet noted [ … ] Readers should know about it.”

The row over Cotton’s opinion piece began with violent street mobs across the United States. Rioters were protesting the death of George Floyd while in the custody of four Minneapolis police officers. An examiner later found Floyd suffered from narrow arteries and hypertension. The deadly drugs fentanyl and methamphetamine were in his system when he died as well.

In his opinion piece, Sen. Cotton described the violence in New York City, St. Louis, Las Vegas and other cities, “Bands of looters roved the streets, smashing and emptying hundreds of businesses [ … ] Outnumbered police officers, encumbered by feckless politicians, bore the brunt of the violence.”

Cotton condemned the media’s portrayal of the rioters as peaceful protesters, “Some elites have excused this orgy of violence in the spirit of radical chic, calling it an understandable response to the wrongful death of George Floyd. Those excuses are built on a revolting moral equivalence of rioters and looters to peaceful, law-abiding protesters.”

The part that got Bennet in trouble with readers and the publisher of the New York Times was Cotton’s call for the president to invoke the Insurrection Act and use military force to support local police, “One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers,” Cotton wrote.