James Bennet, the New York Times’ editorial page editor since May 2016, has resigned from his position in the aftermath of the newspaper publishing a widely criticized op-ed by Tom Cotton. Per a Times press release, Bennet’s resignation is effective immediately, and his deputy editor, Jim Dao, is also leaving the Editorial Page department to be reassigned to the newsroom. “James is a journalist of enormous talent and integrity who believes deeply in the mission of the Times,” publisher A.G. Sulzberger said in a statement. “He oversaw a significant transformation of the Opinion department, which broadened the range of voices we publish and pushed us into new formats like video, graphics, and audio. I’m grateful for his many contributions.”
On June 3, the Times ran an op-ed by Cotton, a Republican senator from Arkansas, titled “Send in the Troops.” In the piece, Cotton dangerously called for “an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain, and ultimately deter lawbreakers” during protests in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. The piece was swiftly condemned by hundreds of Times staffers on social media, with Sulzberger later saying that it “should not have been published.” Before his resignation, Bennet defended the decision to publish Cotton’s op-ed.
“Times Opinion owes it to our readers to show them counter-arguments, particularly those made by people in a position to set policy,” he wrote on social media on June 3. “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.” The Times also held an internal review of the process that led to the op-ed’s publishing.
Katie Kingsbury, who joined the Times in 2017 as a deputy editor, has been named acting editorial page editor through the November election.