The Cotton proviso

Earlier this week the New York Times published Senator Tom Cotton’s op-ed column “Send in the troops.” Senator Cotton’s column urged President Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 in order to protect communities from “nihilist criminals.” Full of relevant links, the column included observations such as this one regarding the events of the past two weeks:

[T]he rioting has nothing to do with George Floyd, whose bereaved relatives have condemned violence. On the contrary, nihilist criminals are simply out for loot and the thrill of destruction, with cadres of left-wing radicals like antifa infiltrating protest marches to exploit Floyd’s death for their own anarchic purposes.

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.

One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers. But local law enforcement in some cities desperately needs backup, while delusional politicians in other cities refuse to do what’s necessary to uphold the rule of law.

Well, this could not stand. First the Times added editorial director James Bennet’s note explaining “why we published the Tom Cotton op-ed.” But this could not stand either! Bennet has renounced the column, claiming not even to have read it before publication (or maybe even after, when he defended its publication).

Now the Times itself has renounced the column. “We’ve examined the piece and the process leading up to its publication,” Eileen Murphy, a Times spokeswoman, said in a statement. “This review made clear that a rushed editorial process led to the publication of an Op-Ed that did not meet our standards. 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 Times has published a triple-bylined story providing an account of the scandal, as the Times deems it. More than 160 employees have planned a virtual walkout for today and a town hall is scheduled.

Oh, goody. Perhaps James Bennet will perform seppuku before the assembled multitude.

There is much that can and should be said about all this. The Times long ago turned into an absurd, illiberal, and subversive institution in American life. On a personal note, however, I would like to add that our relationship with Senator Cotton goes back to his days patrolling the streets of Bagdhad as an Army Ranger in 2006 when he took the time to copy us on a letter to the editor denouncing the Times. The Times didn’t publish it, of course, but we did. I took a look back five years ago in the post “Nine years later, Tom Cotton’s letter to the Times.”

In 2015 the Times asked Senator Cotton about his 2006 letter to the editor without ever having acknowledged its existence. Readers who get their news from the Times can’t have had any idea what they were talking about. It is altogether fitting and proper that Senator Cotton’s op-ed has served further to expose the rot at the Times and perhaps to advance it.

Hank Berrien’s Daily Wire story usefully collects some of the action on Twitter. Mark Hemingway comments in the RCP column “NYT Reporters-Turned-Censors Pick a Perilous Path.” Times columnist Michelle Goldberg unintentionally demonstrates the rot that pervades the Times in her sickening contribution under the headline “Tom Cotton’s fascist op-ed.” The Times delenda est.

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