New York Times journalists last night condemned their newspaper’s decision to publish an op-ed headlined Send In The Troops which they said could endanger them as they cover protests across the US.
Several members of staff openly spoke out against the opinion piece, written by Republican Senator Tom Cotton, yesterday. Many tweeted the words, “Running this puts Black @NYTimes staff in danger”.
— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) June 3, 2020
And last night the News Guild of New York, a union for journalists working in the city, revealed employees of the newspaper will send a letter to Times management setting out their concerns about the publication of the op-ed.
In a statement, it said: “Cotton calls to mobilise the military to ‘detain’ and ‘subdue’ Americans protesting racism and police brutality. His message undermines the journalistic work of our members, puts out black staff members in danger, promotes hate, and is likely to encourage further violence.”
The statement, below, added: “Our ability to cover this moment of history depends on values the paper has long espoused: a commitment to a balanced and factual report and a promise to readers that we will bring them the unbiased news.
“Though we understand the Op-Ed desk’s responsibility to publish a diverse array of opinions, we find the publication of this essay to be an irresponsible choice.
“Its lack of context, inadequate vetting by editorial management, spread of misinformation, and the timing of its call to arms gravely undermine the work we do every day.
“This rhetoric could inspire further use of force at protests – protests many of us and our colleagues are covering in person.”
Our statement: pic.twitter.com/0XgUBv9IIv
— NewsGuild of New York (@nyguild) June 4, 2020
James Bennet, the title’s editorial page editor, defended the decision to run the piece, saying that it was right for the New York Times to publish arguments that oppose others set out in the newspaper.
He said on Twitter: “The Times editorial board has forcefully defended the protests as patriotic and criticised the use of force, saying earlier today that police too often have “responded with more violence — against protesters, journalists and bystanders.
“We’ve also crusaded for years against the underlying, systemic cruelties that led to these protests.
“As part of our explorations of these issues, Times Opinion has published powerful arguments supporting protests, advocating fundamental change and criticising police abuses.
“Times Opinion owes it to our readers to show them counter-arguments, particularly those made by people in a position to set policy.
“We understand that many readers find Senator Cotton’s argument painful, even dangerous. We believe that is one reason it requires public scrutiny and debate.”
I want to explain why we published the piece today by Senator Tom Cotton. https://t.co/GvWwf7i0Wu
— James Bennet (@JBennet) June 3, 2020