New York Times Opinion Editor – Opinion editor James Bennett has resigned from the New York Times following backlash over a column by Senator Tom Cotton calling for military action against protesting Americans.
Mr. Bennett’s rapid fall from one of the most powerful positions in American journalism comes after hundreds of thousands of people have marched in recent weeks to protest racism in police and society. The protests began last month when George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, died after being handcuffed to the knee and pinned to the ground by a white police officer. This excitement also affected other newsrooms. On Saturday night, Stan Wischnowski resigned as editor-in-chief of The Philadelphia Inquirer, days after an article in the paper about the effects of protests on the urban landscape titled “Buildings Matter Too.” The headline prompted an apology from The Inquirer, a stormy staff meeting and the “nausea” of dozens of the paper’s reporters.
New York Times Opinion Editor
, but Bennett’s resignation could be considered. He jumped on Twitter to lecture readers about valuing “counterarguments” and “public observations,” even though he didn’t read them himself before posting them. Even though this column is about SpongeBob SquarePants, it’s embarrassing to publicly commit this level of sheer incompetence.
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* UPDATE: Cotton’s press secretary writes to emphasize that the senator only wants to use military force for “riots and looting.”
In the text, Senator Cotton makes it clear that peaceful protesters are different from rioting and looting. He suggested using the military to support an overwhelmed police force as a last resort to loot and burn buildings without using force against protesters. As you can imagine, that’s a very important distinction for us, and one that gets lost in a lot of coverage. James Bennett resigned from his job as editorial page editor at The New York Times on Sunday, days after the newspaper’s opinion section, which he oversaw, published a highly criticized op-ed by a U.S. senator calling for a military response to civil unrest in the U.S. cities..
“Last week we saw a significant breakdown in our editing processes, not the first we’ve experienced in years,” the publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, announced Mr. Bennett’s departure to the staff on Sunday.
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In a brief interview, Mr. Sulzberger added: “We both concluded that James would not be able to lead the team through the next change that would be required.”
In a virtual meeting with all employees on Friday, Mr. Bennett, 54, apologized for the Op-Ed, saying it should not have been published and was poorly edited. An author’s note released late Friday noted factual inaccuracies and an “unnecessarily harsh” tone. “The essay fell below our standards and should not have been published,” the note said.
The Op-Ed, written by Sen. Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, was titled “Send in the Troops.” “One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: a massive show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers,” he wrote. The text, published on Wednesday, caused outrage among readers and journalists of the Times. Mr. Bennett declined to comment.
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Mr. Bennett’s rapid fall from one of the most powerful positions in American journalism comes after hundreds of thousands of people have marched in recent weeks to protest racism in police and society. Protests began last month after George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, died after being handcuffed to the knee and pinned to the ground by a white police officer.
This excitement also affected other newsrooms. Stan Wischnowski resigned as editor-in-chief of The Philadelphia Inquirer Saturday night, days after an article about the impact of protests on the urban landscape was headlined, “Buildings Matter, Too.” The headline prompted an apology from The Inquirer, a stormy staff meeting and the “nausea” of dozens of the paper’s reporters.
Mr. Bennett’s tenure as editorial page editor, which began in 2016, has been marked by several missteps. Last spring, The Times apologized for an anti-Semitic cartoon that appeared in the opinion pages of its international edition.
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Last August, a federal appeals court ruled that former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin could file a defamation suit against The Times over an editorial that Mr. Bennett edited and falsely linked her comments to the 2011 shooting of the congresswoman.
During Mr. Bennett’s first year on the job, two Times national security reporters publicly objected to a piece by reporter Louise Mensch, who cited her own report on alleged U.S. law enforcement surveillance of Trump’s presidential campaign. Journalists from The Times and other outlets covering the same story were also skeptical of her claim.
Mr. Bennett worked on the Times newsroom in key roles from 1991 until 2006, when he left the paper to become editor of The Atlantic. Since his return, he has been widely seen as the successor to Dean Beckett, who had been in charge of the newsroom for six years.
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In his four years as editor of the editorial page, Mr. Bennett has sought to broaden his range of ideas, making him more sensitive to news and better positioned to cover the technology industry. While he hired several progressive columnists and contributors, he also added conservative voices to a traditionally liberal department.
He reduced the number of unsigned editorials and encouraged editorial members to write more signed opinion pieces; One editorial board member, Brent Staples, won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing last year for a series of opinion columns on race in America.
Under Mr. Bennett, the Opinion Division also published investigative journalism, developed newsletters and podcasts. There was also a much-discussed release of an anonymous Trump administration official describing a “quiet resistance” within the federal government.
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Brett Stevens, a prominent conservative columnist hired by Mr. Bennett, angered many readers with his inaugural column in the Times, in which he asserted the “moral superiority” of climate change skeptics. Late last year, Mr. Stevens published another column entitled “Secrets of Jewish Intellectuals,” which drew widespread criticism. After review, the authors added a column note and re-edited it to remove a reference to the study cited in the original after it was discovered that one of the study’s authors promoted racist views.
Mr. Bennet is the brother of U.S. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, who dropped out of reporting on the presidential campaign during his brother’s unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination this year.
Katie Kingsbury, deputy editorial page editor, will serve as acting editorial page editor during the November election, Mr. Sulzberger in his memo to staff. Jim Dao, deputy editorial page editor who oversees writing, is leaving his position on the Times’ main page to start a new job in the newsroom. Mr. Baquet, the executive editor, said on Sunday that he and Mr. Dao had begun discussing possible jobs for Mr. Dao. Mr. Dao did not respond to a request for comment.
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Ms. Kingsbury, 41, was hired in 2017. She previously served on the editorial board of The Boston Globe, where she won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing and edited another Pulitzer Prize-winning series.
Ms. Kingsbury, who declined to comment for this article, said in a note to Comment staff on Sunday that until a “technical fix” is in place, “anyone who sees any hard-hitting journalism, including headlines or social media posts, photos or call you that – gives you pause, so call or text me now.”
Senator Cotton’s choice drew criticism on social media from multiple Times staffers in various departments, and an online protest led by African-Americans. Much of the backlash involved tweets that read “endangering black @personnel.” Times employees objected, despite the company’s policy of not posting biased comments on social media and not taking sides on issues in public forums.
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In addition, more than 800 staff members signed a letter as of Thursday night protesting the publication of the book. The letter, addressed to top opinion and news editors as well as executives at the New York Times Company, alleged that Mr. Cotton’s essay contained misrepresentations such as portraying the role of “Antifa” in the protests.
Mr. Sulzberger said at a town hall meeting Friday and in his remarks Sunday that the opinion needed to be rethought for an era in which readers are more likely to encounter text in social media posts divorced from their print context. Editorial page.
A version of this article appears in print in the New York edition, Section B, Page 1: Times Opinion Editor Resigns Amid Controversy. Order a reprint | Today’s paper | Subscribe() — Jewish columnist and editor Barry Weiss, a lightning rod for critics of the left, has resigned from The New York Times.
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Weiss, the author of a much-discussed book on anti-Semitism, has announced her resignation.
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