Months after staff at The New York Times had a meltdown, ejecting an editor over Sen. Tom Cotton’s article in June calling for federal law enforcement to stop the streak of riots in U.S. cities last summer, the publication came out condemning the destructive mob that breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.
Going to be entertaining watching the entire left-of-center punditocracy belatedly endorse Tom Cotton’s NYT op-ed.
— Robby Soave (@robbysoave) January 6, 2021
Not only was the legacy paper’s front page scheduled to read “Trump Incites Mob. Rampage In Capitol Forces Evacuations. It’s ‘Part of His Legacy,’ A Republican Says” on Thursday, but multiple Times journalists have also condemned the riots and President Donald Trump for not calling in federal law enforcement or condemning the violence fast enough.
— Cliff Levy (@cliffordlevy) January 7, 2021
And…I'm not sure why anyone would be surprised by that. During the campaign he said he wanted to punch a protester in the face. His former head of Oval Office operations did in fact punch a protester in the face outside Trump Tower.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 7, 2021
— Cliff Levy (@cliffordlevy) January 6, 2021
In June, the Times published an editorial penned by the senator from Arkansas, who urged President Trump to “send in the troops” to quell the violent riots, looting, and arson that ripped through cities around the United States following the death of George Floyd.
“The American people aren’t blind to injustices in our society, but they know that the most basic responsibility of government is to maintain public order and safety,” Cotton wrote. “In normal times, local law enforcement can uphold public order. But in rare moments, like ours today, more is needed, even if many politicians prefer to wring their hands while the country burns.”
Despite receiving backlash from its own staff, the Times originally defended publishing the op-ed, claiming that “Times Opinion owes it to our readers to show them counter-arguments, particularly those made by people in a position to set policy.”
“We understand that many readers find Senator Cotton’s argument painful, even dangerous. We believe that is one reason it requires public scrutiny and debate,” editorial page editor James Bennet wrote after some of his colleagues declared that “Running this puts Black @nytimes staffers in danger.”
The next day, however, the Times added an editor’s note to Cotton’s article stating, “We have concluded that the essay fell short of our standards and should not have been published.”
Following more public pushback from a coalition of New York Times staffers and online mobs about Cotton’s article, Bennet stepped down from his position at the publication.
The backlash continued, and the newspaper ran another op-ed from Michelle Goldberg claiming that Cotton’s writing was “fascist.” The Times’s union also spoke out, saying that the senator’s op-ed “promotes hate”
Many readers and New York Times staff members denounced The Times's publication of an opinion essay by Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, that called for a military response to protests. The Times union said that the Op-Ed "promotes hate." https://t.co/yG7CXoUz3c
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 4, 2020
One day after the Capitol fiasco, despite previously disagreeing with Cotton’s words over the summer, Bennet admitted that he wished the military would have intervened sooner on Wednesday.
Quite the timing for today’s guest Playbook author: James Bennet. pic.twitter.com/F1hVsWMrTR
— Henry J. Gomez (@HenryJGomez) January 7, 2021
Despite the Times’s hypocrisy on rule of law, Cotton maintained the same stance he had in June, writing on Twitter that “this violence is unacceptable and needs to be met with the full force of the law.”
This violence is unacceptable and needs to be met with the full force of the law.
God bless the Capitol Police who are keeping us safe.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) January 6, 2021