NYT Issues ‘Mea Culpa’ for Running Cotton Op-Ed after Internal Revolt

The New York Times announced on Thursday that it would look into changing its process for commissioning and accepting opinion columns after the paper drew backlash for carrying an op-ed by Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.).

In the op-ed, Cotton called for President Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act in order to send federal troops into cities wracked by civil unrest over the past week. Looters and rioters in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and elsewhere have taken advantage of demonstrations sparked by the death of George Floyd.

A “review made clear that a rushed editorial process led to the publication of an Op-Ed that did not meet our standards,” a Times spokeswoman said in a statement. “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.”

The statement came after a number of Times staffers publicly criticized the paper’s opinion editors for accepting the op-ed, on the grounds that doing so endangered black staff.

A staffer for Senator Cotton told National Review that the editing process was intensive and similar to the two other instances in which Cotton wrote op-eds for the paper.

The fact-checking in particular “was pretty rigorous. We were going into the weeds,” the staffer said. “We were challenged on a couple of things…and actually made changes.”

Backlash against the op-ed in the Times newsroom was so strong that the paper published its own news article about the controversy.

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