NY Times Columnist Apologizes For Comparing Rex Tillerson To Pol Pot

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Bret Stephens, a conservative opinion columnist for the New York Times, on Tuesday apologized for comparing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to genocidal Cambodian dictator Pol Pot.

“I let rhetorical exuberance get the better of me,” Stephens tweeted.

He said Tillerson is “in no way” comparable to the Cambodian dictator.

“Not remotely or by analogy,” Stephens said. “I apologize.”

Stephens made the comparison on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” where he said Tillerson “really is up there as a nominee for worst secretary of state ever.”

He cited Tillerson’s management of the State Department, where a large number of senior positions remain unfilled.

“The State Department is also part of the machinery of government and that machinery has to run in order for normal things to happen, like having relationships with foreign countries or having consular services for U.S. people,” he said. “And Tillerson seems to be of a kind of Maoist school in which it’s like, maybe it’s Pol Pot.”

“Wow,” co-host Joe Scarborough said. “If that is in fact the case, that is like one of the worst secretary of states of all time.”

“I don’t mean the Killing Fields,” Stephens added, referring to the mass grave sites where more than a million people were killed and buried during the Communist regime Pol Pot led. “I mean the year zero mentality, which is blow it all up, see what happens, wait for a while and then try to arrange the pieces as you see fit.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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