NYT Publisher Writes Internal Memo To Staffers Following Open Revolt Over Tom Cotton Op-Ed

Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
Font Size:

New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger defended the publication’s decision to publish an op-ed from Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton in an internal memo following public backlash from employees.

Cotton’s op-ed called for the U.S. military to be potentially dispatched in an attempt to “restore order” amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd. President Donald Trump previously vowed to deploy the U.S. military if states did not call in the National Guard.

NYT staffers came together and outwardly voiced concerns over the article, with many tweeting that “Running this puts Black @NYTimes staff in danger.” Sulzberger’s internal memo, obtained by CNN’s Oliver Darcy, wrote that they must have an “openness to a range of opinions, even those we may disagree with.”

“It is clear many believe this piece fell outside the realm of acceptability, representing dangerous commentary in an explosive moment that should not have found a home in The Times, even as a counterpoint to our own institutional view,” Sulzberger wrote. (RELATED: NYT Writes Article About Its Own Employees Revolting Against The NYT’s Decision To Publish Tom Cotton’s Op-Ed)

“I believe in the principle of openness to a range of opinions, even those we may disagree with, and this piece was published in that spirit. But it’s essential that we listen and to reflect on the concerns we’re hearing, as we would with any piece that is the subject of significant criticism.”

Included in the internal memo is the news that the NYT will hold “an employee town hall” Friday in which “leaders from news, Opinion and business will be available for questions,” according to Sulzberger.

“Our journalistic mission – to seek the truth and help people understand the world – could not be more important than it is in this moment of upheaval,” he continued. “But so is the work we must do among ourselves. One of my most important responsibilities as we do so is to protect your safety so that you can do your vital work.”

Some NYT employees were not happy with Sulzberger’s remarks, Darcy tweeted. One employee called it “demoralizing.”

“The email did not address what many felt were factual inaccuracies in the Cotton Op-Ed and its incitement of violence,” the employee said according to CNN. “It was demoralizing.”

Other NYT employees voiced issues with their co-workers, saying they are “behaving in an unjournalistic way,” CNN reported.

“I don’t feel furious about it — I feel furious that my colleagues are behaving in an unjournalistic way,” a NYT employee said according to CNN. “We need Cotton’s vile sentiment out there so people can see how the administration thinks and how diabolically wrong it is. Exposing it is what will keep black Times staffers safe.”