New York TImes Tom Cotton Op-ed Controversy refers to the backlash against the New York Times for publishing an op-ed piece by Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton advocating for the use of the U.S. military to quell the 2020 George Floyd Protests. While James Bennet, the Opinions page editor, stood by publishing the piece on the grounds it wanted to portray a variety of opinions on the subject, critics, including workers at the New York Times, have argued that publishing the piece endangered black lives and was a complicit endorsement of fascism and military occupation.
On June 3rd, 2020, as the George Floyd Protests continued and incidents of police violence and looting spread, the New York Times published an op-ed written by Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton titled, “Send In the Troops.” The piece advocates for military intervention in the protests, with Cotton writing, “One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers… it’s past time to support local law enforcement with federal authority.”
The piece and the New York Times decision to publish it was quickly met with outrage from readers on Twitter. Minutes after it was posted, Twitter user @karenyhan posted a screenshot of the article’s title, writing “hey @nytimes what the fuck is this?”, gaining over 6,900 retweets and 39,000 likes (shown below, left). User @aquariaofficial wrote, “This is alarming + incites terror and normalizes martial law within states. NYT is irresponsible for publishing this article and there’s no way in HELL I’ll be following the opinion of a “Mr. Tom Cotton,” a Republican senator from Arkansas. We do not need troops. We need justice,” gaining over 530 retweets and 2,400 likes (shown below, right).
“We believe his message undermines the work we do, in the newsroom and in opinion, and violates our standards for ethical and accurate reporting for the public’s interest. It also jeopardizes our journalists’ ability to work safely and effectively on the streets…. In publishing an Op-Ed that appears to call for violence, promotes hate, and rests its arguments on several factual inaccuracies while glossing over other matters that require–and were not met with–expert legal interpretation, we fail our readers…. Heeding a call to ‘send in the troops’ has historically resulted in harm to black and brown people, like the ones who are vital members of The New York Times family.”
Many called on James Bennet, the New York Times Opinion Editor, to resign. Several others called for boycotts and unsubscriptions from the New York Times.Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a link to an op-ed written by the deputy leader of the Taliban that the New York Times published in February of 2020.
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. For example, @pixelatedboat tweeted a parody that gained over 16,000 retweets and 85,000 likes (shown below, left). @drmistercody tweeted an I Am Become Death parody, gaining over 410 retweets and 4,000 likes (shown below, right).
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