USA: New York Times must refrain from spreading further hatred

[Updated 09/06/2020: James Bennet, opinion page editor of the New York Times, resigned.] The New York Times has accepted that publishing a controversial editorial which could have led to reporters being attacked was an error after the local journalists' union called its publication "irresponsible" and likely to promote hate.


Journalists at the New York Times condemned the publication by the US newspaper of an Op-ed from a Republican senator calling on the government to "Send in the Troops" in response to ongoing protests over the murder of George Floyd. The International Federation of Journalists stands by its affiliate the NewsGuild in calling on the NYT to refrain from spreading further hatred in these critical times.

In an Op-ed titled "Send in The Troops" published on 3rd June, Senator Tom Cotton called on the army to "detain" and subdue" protestors and restore public order. This call followed violence that broke out across the country during protests over police brutality and racism following the killing by police forces of George Floyd on 25 May.

On 3 June, the NewsGuild of New York published a statement condemning the publication of Cotton's Op-Ed:


"His message undermines the journalistic work of our members, puts our Black staff members  in danger, promotes hate and is likely to encourage further violence".
"While acknowledging the need to publish a diverse array of opinion, the Guild calls the publication of such an opinion a "irresponsible choice" and warns that the New York Times employees will send a letter to the NYT management to express their concerns

The company issued a statement on 4 June acknowledging that the Op-Ed "didn't meet the newspaper's standards". “We’ve examined the piece and the process leading up to its publication,” Times Spokeswoman Eileen Murphy,  said in a statement. “This review made clear that a rushed editorial process led to the publication of an Op-Ed that did not meet our standards".  

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: "In the past few days, we have witnessed shocking images of police brutality against journalists and citizens and we have strongly condemned such attacks. As media professionals, we do have a duty to respect pluralism and diversity as well as ethical standards. The current situation in the US requires absolute care and balance in news reporting and no encouragement for further violence. We welcome the NYT's acknowledgment that the publication of the Op-ed was not a good decision." 

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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