NYT’s Publication Of Tom Cotton’s ‘Send In The Troops’ Op-Ed Sparks Swift Backlash

on January 25, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) participates in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on January 25, 2018. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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June 3, 2020 6:04 p.m.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) published a seething op-ed titled “Send in the Troops” in the New York Times on Wednesday, which was met with swift criticism from readers who rebuked the newspaper for providing the senator with such a platform.

The piece applauds what many have called an appalling use of police force against law-abiding protesters.

Cotton condemned a spirit of “lawlessness” on America’s streets, arguing that what began as peaceful protest has been co-opted by bad actors and devolved into “riots for the thrill-seeking rich as well as other criminal elements.” Cotton ultimately used the essay to advocate for the use of the Insurrection Act — a seldom-used power that would enable the President to activate the full power of the military to calm streets and presumably “restore order.”

Although the comments section was not enabled on the op-ed, responses came in rapidly on Twitter. 

A HuffPost reporter went so far as to describe the piece as “openly authoritarian.”

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The Columbia Journalism Review’s public editor for The New York Times suggested that the op-ed was fundamentally inaccurate in its description of the scenes from protests that unfolded over the past week.

Former Pentagon speechwriter John Gans suggested it was the type of writing one would anticipate from a person eager to “inherit Trumpism”: 

The Times’ opinion section has come under fire a number of times in recent months, especially around conservative columnist Bret Stephens’ work.

According to the Times’ website for tips and explainers about submitting an op-ed, the editors are “interested in anything well-written with a fact-based viewpoint we believe readers will find worthwhile.”

The Times did not respond to TPM’s requests for comment.

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