The New York Times denounced on Thursday Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-AR) “Send In the Troops” op-ed that called on the military to crack down on nationwide unrest over the killing of George Floyd.
After critics (which included several of the Times’ own staffers) slammed the Times for giving a platform for a call to use military force on American citizens, Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy said in a statement that the paper had “examined the piece and the process leading up to its publication.”
“This review made clear that a rushed editorial process led to the publication of an Op-Ed that did not meet our standards,” she said. “As a result, we’re planning to examine both short-term and long-term changes, to include expanding our fact-checking operation and reducing the number of op-eds we publish.”
James Bennet, the editor who oversees the paper’s opinion section, told employees in a meeting that he hadn’t even read Cotton’s op-ed prior to publication, according to the Times’ report on the meeting.
In a Slack message to newsroom staffers that was also covered by the New York Times, A. G. Sulzberger, the Times’ publisher, seemed regretful of the “rushed editorial process” in publishing the column, which he said “did not meet our standards.”
“Given that this is not the first lapse, the Opinion department will also be taking several initial steps to reduce the likelihood of something like this happening again,” he wrote in the message.
Cotton delighted in the Times’ fiasco, tweeting he was “enjoying the @nytimes meltdown” and responding with a laughing emoji in response to a Slate report that his essay had caused the highest number of subscription cancels to the Times in a single hour.
The GOP senator’s office said in a statement that they had not been informed of the Times’ announcement in advance.
“We’re curious to know what part of that process and this piece didn’t meet their standards,” the office said.