New York Times HAD To Let Tom Cotton Write About The Joys Of Fascist Occupation, Because JOURNALISM
It was the best of papers, it was the worst of papers.
The New York Times editorial page has, once again, descended into foolishness, provoking an epic incredulity among its entire staff, who have taken to Twitter to ask what the everloving fuck is wrong with those fascist-coddling loons over in Op Ed.
Yesterday, the Times published an editorial by Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton titled "Tom Cotton: Send in the Troops," in which he urges Donald Trump to dispatch the US military to American cities for an "overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers." Because what this situation needs is more heavily armed storm troopers, but with no ties to the community or experience policing American citizens who have constitutional rights.
The Insurrection Act empowers the president to put down an insurrection. But there is no insurrection, of course. There are just millions of Americans who have finally watched enough cellphone videos of cops murdering black and brown citizens that they believe black people when they say, "I can't breathe." It's telling that Tom Cotton sees protests of extra-judicial killings as an insurrection. Apparently a key function of government is to kneel on the necks of black people and murder them in the streets.
But you can't say it like that, of course. Not even in the New York Times, with its vaunted commitment to publishing a wide variety of viewpoints.
So, lacking an actual insurrection, Cotton has simply invented one, claiming that "rioters have plunged many American cities into anarchy," as "feckless politicians" stood by helplessly as "bands of looters" in sports cars magically converted a peaceful protest into "carnivals for the thrill-seeking rich as well as other criminal elements." In his telling, the real story is the handful of police hurt in the protests, not the thousands of American citizens and members of the press beaten, pepper sprayed, shot with rubber bullets, and carted off to jail.
The protestors may say their goal is to stop police from killing black people, but Tom Cotton knows that actually this has "nothing to do with George Floyd," and is instead "nihilist criminals  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."
If Mr. Cotton has evidence beyond Bill Barr's conclusory fearmongering about "cadres" of antifascist infiltrators, he's not sharing it. And aside from a single tweet about a dozen Mercedes-driving looters in New York, there's no evidence of rich people descending upon American cities to loot. But this isn't really an "evidence" kind of joint.
"A majority who seek to protest peacefully shouldn't be confused with bands of miscreants," says Cotton, before blithely sweeping them into a pile with the "rioters," then using that funny math to justify flooding the zone with shock troops because "in some cases the rioters still outnumber the police and [National] Guard combined."
The only hard statistic cited by Cotton is a Morning Consult poll which finds that 58 percent of Americans would support cities if they decided to call in the US military to "supplement city police forces." And if you don't think too hard about it, you might miss the fact that Cotton is calling for the exact opposite — he wants to override local mayors' objections and send in the US military to occupy the streets. Which is just what you'd expect from a staunch supporter of small government and local control, right?
Cotton's editorial has provoked a firestorm of criticism of the Times, not least from its own reporters who are horrified that their employer is giving a platform to a brazen liar who would open the door to even more heavily armed goons on the streets to beat defenseless protestors.
NYT reporters in a rare open revolt over the opinion side running Tom Cotton's op-Ed calling to deploy the military to “restore order." pic.twitter.com/MgLuR8EunJ
— Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) June 3, 2020
Or, as the Times' news side wrote in an article covering the controversy, "It is not unusual for right-leaning opinion articles in The Times to attract criticism. This time, the outcry from readers, Times staff members and alumni of the paper was strong enough to draw an online defense of the essay's publication from James Bennet, the editorial page editor."
The "online defense," in which Bennet claimed an obligation to present the readers with "counter-arguments," devoid of context or fact-checking and cleaned up by the paper's editors to give them a veneer of respectability and logical coherence ... did not land well.
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.
— James Bennet (@JBennet) June 3, 2020
As many commentators pointed out, the paper may have an obligation to write about the arguments that politicians are making, but that's not the same as handing the microphone over to someone advocating grossly immoral and likely illegal positions. The Times could have written its standard, bothsides article about Cotton's arglebargle, fascist-worshipping tweets, with constitutional lawyers pointing out the legal and practical challenges and military figures such as James Mattis explaining how deeply dangerous and unwise this position is. They didn't have to let Tom Cotton pretend to be concerned about "poor communities that still bear scars from past upheavals," while advocating for the exact policies they're fighting against.
I love working at the Times and most days of the week I'm very proud to be part of its mission. But tonight, I understand the people who treat me like I work at a tobacco company. I stand with my colleagues.
— Taffy Brodesser-Akner (@taffyakner) June 4, 2020
Bennet's argument that they simply must publish every opinion out there is nonsense on its face. We're not logging on in the morning to see David Duke: What Are The Best Races, or Alex Jones: Eat Your Neighbor's Ass, or Warren Jeffs: On Lowering The Age Of Consent. In fact, the Times is perfectly capable of turning down US senators who have opinions and are "in a position to set policy."
But Medicaid and climate change are BORING. The only way you can get clicks with that stuff is if you let Bret Stephens write about polar bears whose kink is drowning because there's no more ice, or whatever. If it bleeds, it leads, and they read. Right?
SLOW FUCKING CLAP, NYT.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.