New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger suggested there was regret in forcing the resignation of editorial page editor James Bennet amid the fallout of the op-ed from Sen. Tom Cotton that sparked fury within the paper.
Earlier this month, a piece written by the Arkansas GOP senator called to "send the troops" to cities that failed to quell riots over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, if the police response wasn't enough. However, an unprecedented revolt among Times journalists claimed Cotton's op-ed put the lives of black colleagues in "danger."
Bennet, who initially defended the publishing of the op-ed, later apologized to staff and admitted that he himself never read the piece before it ran. Days later, he resigned.
"I really lament the loss of a talent that I respect and admire more than you could know, Sulzberger told the Daily Beast. "But, at the end of the day, the most important thing, when you have these crises, is: Can you show up on Monday morning and lead the team out of it? I really regret that the answer we all got [for Bennet] was, 'no.'"
Following the social-media outcry from Times staff, the paper held an internal meeting during which top leadership reportedly took turns apologizing for running the Cotton piece.
However, the Daily Beast also reported that a staffer at the virtual town hall asked if the Times was going to fire opinion editor Bari Weiss for suggesting in a Twitter thread that there was a "civil war" within the paper between the young "woke" and older liberal journalists. According to the report, "the answer was no," but the bosses were "evaluating her social media conduct."
Weiss hasn't been nearly as vocal on Twitter since she weighed in on the Cotton op-ed, according to her recent activity, particularly a three-day absence of tweets immediately following her viral thread.
Kate Kingsbury, who previously served as the deputy editorial page editor of the paper, has stepped into the role left vacant by Bennet.
She did not provide a comment to the Times in its own report about Bennet's resignation. However, according to the paper, she did say that "until a more 'technical solution' is in place, anyone who sees 'any piece of Opinion journalism — including headlines or social posts or photos or you name it — that gives you the slightest pause, please call or text me immediately.'"