On Wednesday, Senator Tom Cotton got the last laugh on The New York Times, which had precipitated a brouhaha last week when its staff revolted because a Cotton op-ed had been published in the paper, causing the editorial page editor to resign and the paper officially stating it “should not have been published.”
Cotton’s affiliated political action committee, using funds that were raised from those who supported Cotton after the Times attacked him, ran an ad attacking former Vice President and current prospective Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden — on the Times’ website.
A top advisor to Cotton paid mock homage to the Times, telling The Washington Free Beacon, “While we were concerned that the woke mob would stifle debate, it’s admirable that The New York Times will run these ads from Senator Cotton’s PAC.” The Beacon added, “Cotton’s team said the drama caused a substantial boost to his fundraising that helped him purchase the ads placed in the Times … Cotton’s campaign said he has raised nearly $200,000 since his op-ed was published.”
After publication, this essay met strong criticism from many readers (and many Times colleagues), prompting editors to review the piece and the editing process. Based on that review, we have concluded that the essay fell short of our standards and should not have been published.
The basic arguments advanced by Senator Cotton — however objectionable people may find them — represent a newsworthy part of the current debate. But given the life-and-death importance of the topic, the senator’s influential position and the gravity of the steps he advocates, the essay should have undergone the highest level of scrutiny. Instead, the editing process was rushed and flawed, and senior editors were not sufficiently involved.
While Senator Cotton and his staff cooperated fully in our editing process, the Op-Ed should have been subject to further substantial revisions — as is frequently the case with such essays — or rejected … Beyond those factual questions, the tone of the essay in places is needlessly harsh and falls short of the thoughtful approach that advances useful debate.
On Wednesday, Cotton tweaked the nose of the Times by noting it had no problem with an earlier op-ed he had written:
Happy that today @StateDept is reopening its consulate in Nuuk, Greenland. PHASE ONE COMPLETE.
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) June 10, 2020
The Biden ad on the Times’ website featured a voiceover stating, “China’s lies spread the China virus across the world, putting the health and jobs of the American people at risk. We need strong, decisive leadership to get through this crisis. Joe Biden fails the test. Biden doesn’t know what day it is. He doesn’t even know what office he’s running for.”
After showing clips of Biden unsure of which day it was and saying he was running for the U.S. Senate, the video continues, “So clueless. Biden called the China travel ban ‘xenophobic’ and he wants to exploit this crisis to pass the ‘Green New Deal,’ putting more American jobs at risk.”
Biden is shown saying, “We’re going to have an opportunity, I believe, in the next round here, to use my green economy, my green deal …”
The video concludes, “Joe Biden. Weak on China. Too confused to lead.”
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