NY Times’ Bret Stephens Accuses Paper of Inviting ‘Intellectual Cowardice’ With Tom Cotton Controversy


Bret Stephens

New York Times columnist Bret Stephens called out the newspaper in his latest column for its handling of the fallout from Sen. Tom Cotton’s controversial “Send in the Troops” op-ed.

In his piece, titled “What The Times Got Wrong,” Stephens claimed, “Last week’s decision by this newspaper to disavow an Op-Ed by Senator Tom Cotton is a gift to the enemies of a free press — free in the sense of one that doesn’t quiver and cave in the face of an outrage mob.”

“It is a violation of the principles that are supposed to sustain the profession, particularly our obligation to give readers a picture of the world as it really is,” Stephens wrote. “And, as the paper dismisses distinguished journalists along with controversial opinions, it’s an invitation to intellectual cowardice.”

Stephens wrote that while he and much of the media disagreed with Cotton’s view, the majority of Americans polled actually agreed with the Arkansas Republican.

“We also have an obligation to keep undeniably hateful ideas, like Holocaust denial or racism, out of the editorial pages. But serious journalism, complete with a vigorous exchange of ideas, cannot survive in an atmosphere in which modest intellectual risk-taking or minor offenses against new ideological orthodoxies risk professional ruin,” the columnist concluded.

New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet resigned on Sunday after the newspaper faced controversy — including a revolt inside its own newsroom — for publishing Cotton’s article which argued in favor of sending troops in to American cities to stop the recent riots.

After a review sparked by the public and internal backlash, the newspaper added an editor’s note to Cotton’s piece claiming “the essay fell short of our standards and should not have been published.”

Cotton shot back at the Times on Fox News Monday, arguing “the publisher defended the decision to publish that column after it was published, and the mob in their news room began to demand that it be taken down, there be consequences.”

“Within a day it turned into something like a struggle session from the cultural revolution in Mao’s China where the adults had to prostrate themselves and apologize in front of the woke children that apparently now run the New York Times newsroom,” he continued. “And now you’ve had the opinion page editor have to resign.”

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