Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Wednesday had a snarky reaction to the backlash that both Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and the New York Times have faced following the publication of his “Send In the Troops” op-ed last week.
On Sunday, James Bennet, the editorial page editor at the New York Times, resigned amid backlash over the paper’s decision to publish Cotton’s call for militaristic force against the nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death. The controversy over the publication of Cotton’s op-ed sparked internal turmoil at The Times with black writers taking particular issue with the decision. Journalists inside and outside the Times newsroom said the publication of the piece put black people in danger by encouraging military violence against largely peaceful protesters.
After arguing that the “American culture of free expression and open debate” is under threat during remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, McConnell proceeded to tear into the Times, mentioning it has published op-eds from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the foreign minister of Iran, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and “an essay arguing for great normalization of pedophilia.”
“As far as I know, none of those decisions occasioned public revolts from the paper’s staff, hand-wringing apologies from the editors, or an overhaul of the masses,” McConnell said. “Presumably it was understood that pushing the envelope and airing disagreements are necessary in a free market of ideas.”
McConnell then mocked the backlash that ensued after the publication of Cotton’s op-ed.
“But one week ago ‘The Gray Lady’ finally met her match,” McConnell said. “Vladimir Putin, no problem. Iranian propaganda? Sure. But nothing, nothing could have prepared them for 800 words from the junior senator from Arkansas.”
McConnell continued his defense of Cotton, claiming that his colleague wrote an op-ed that 58 percent of Americans agreed with, without citing which survey he was referring to, and that the Arkansas senator’s controversial opinion was a “legitimate view” for him to express due to the looting and arson that broke out during protests.
McConnell later tore into the left by accusing it of using a “silencing tactic.”
“By now we all know the routine. We’ve seen this movie before. Rather than actually
rebut speech, the far left instead tries to silence the speaker with a mixture of misrepresentations, sanctimonious moralizing and bizarre emotional ‘word salads’ that nobody else could have standing to question,” McConnell said. “This silencing tactic has escaped from the ivory tower and is spreading throughout American life.”
McConnell concluded that the far left “sounds like (a) mad libs mixture between a therapy session and a university’s HR department.”