Tom Cotton Op-Ed Calling for US Troops to Police Protests Sparks Massive Public Backlash Among NYT Staffers


New York Times

New York Times staff engaged in a rare, and very public pushback against the decision by the newspaper’s editorial page to publish a controversial op-ed on Wednesday, with dozens of Times writers, editors, and contributors warning that the implications of such a move “puts black @NYTimes staff in danger.”

The backlash was centered on a Times op-ed from hardline conservative Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), entitled “Send in the Troops.” In it, he argued for the deployment of active-duty military to “restore order,” a highly incendiary move that requires the president to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act, designed to quell massive civil unrest. The order was last used by President George H.W. Bush in 1992 to regain control of the massive riots that shook Los Angeles and killed dozens in the wake of the acquittal of four police officers who viciously beat Rodney King.

The fierce criticisms and outrage reached into nearly every corner of the paper, and included one of its most celebrated journalists, who just won the Pulitzer Prize.

The backlash also included well-known contributors and columnists.

And even an editor from the Times’ opinion section weighed in, echoing a phrase that many other Times staffers co-signed by repeating verbatim above a screenshot of the offending op-ed’s headline.


One of the Times‘ China correspondents blasted the editorial page’s decision as “surreal” and “horrifying,” while noting that it will coincidentally run in the print edition of the paper on the 39th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre of pro-democracy activists by the Chinese army.

Other op-ed editors from the Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe weighed in as well, and challenged the logic of lending the paper’s prestigious editorial real estate to Cotton’s argument.

One Times reporter even pointed out that the paper’s own reporting contradicts an unsubstantiated claim Cotton makes in the op-ed.

Amidst the very public and embarrassing staff revolt, Times editorial page editor James Bennet posted a thread on Twitter to explain the decision making process.

And at least one notable Times writer, columnist David Brooks, came out in favor of publishing the op-ed, praising the decision to publish pieces he disagrees with because “It causes me to think.”

Have a tip we should know?

Filed Under: