James Bennet, the editorial page editor at the New York Times, resigned on Sunday night amid backlash over the paper’s decision to publish Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-AR) op-ed that called for militaristic force against the protests over police brutality rippling across the country.
“The journalism of Times Opinion has never mattered more than in this time of crisis at home and around the world, and I’ve been honored to be part of it,” Bennet said in the Times’ press release on the resignation. “I’m so proud of the work my colleagues and I have done to focus attention on injustice and threats to freedom and to enrich debate about the right path forward by bringing new voices and ideas to Times readers.”
Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger praised Bennet as a “journalist of enormous talent and integrity who believes deeply in the mission of The Times.”
“I’m grateful for his many contributions,” Sulzberger said.
Cotton’s op-ed, titled “Send in the Troops,” sparked backlash last week among critics, particularly the Times’ black writers, who argued that a powerful news outlet like the Times was putting black people in danger by boosting a senator’s call for military violence against protesters calling for an end to racial injustice.
Bennet had defended the publication of the op-ed at first, arguing that his section has “committed to Times readers to “provide a debate on important questions like this.”
Later, reports emerged that Bennet had admitted to Times’ staff that he had not read the essay prior to its publication.
Several days after the op-ed was published, Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy said that “a rushed editorial process led to the publication of an Op-Ed that did not meet our standards.”
A note was thus added to the op-ed that stated the piece “fell short of our standards and should not have been published.”