McConnell rips New York Times over handling of Cotton op-ed

Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday knocked The New York Times over its response to criticism of a recent op-ed it published from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). 

The furor over the op-ed, which called for the president to deploy active military troops into U.S. cities to quell days of protests and riots in response to the death of George Floyd, led to the resignation of the news organization’s editorial page director.

McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor, said the “Gray Lady finally met her match.”

“Nothing, nothing could have prepared them for 800 words from the junior senator from Arkansas,” McConnell said.

McConnell said “the left” tried to “ban [Cotton] from polite society,” and that when confronted by an “angry mob” the Times “folded like a house of cards.”

“Outside leftists blasted the paper for airing the argument. … The facts couldn’t hold a candle to the hurt feelings. The ‘New York Times’ had erred grievously by making people confront a different viewpoint,” McConnell added.

Cotton’s op-ed sparked widespread controversy, with some Times staffers publicly warning that they felt it endangered the lives of black journalists.

“These rioters, if not subdued, not only will destroy the livelihoods of law-abiding citizens but will also take more innocent lives. Many poor communities that still bear scars from past upheavals will be set back still further,” Cotton wrote in the Times.

On Thursday, The New York Times said in a statement that the senator’s op-ed “did not meet our standards” and that the newspaper is planning to “examine both short term and long term changes,” including expanding its fact-checking operation and reducing the number of op-eds it publishes.

Then on Sunday editorial page director James Bennet resigned. Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger told staff in an email Sunday that he and Bennet agreed “it would take a new team to lead the department through a period of considerable change,” according to a copy of the email tweeted by Times media reporter Marc Tracy.

Tags George Floyd protests Mitch McConnell The New York Times Tom Cotton

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