NYT Editor Wanted to Label Conservative Op-Eds with “Trigger Warnings” 

monticello / shutterstock.com
monticello / shutterstock.com

While most large-scale news organizations are slanted heavily to the left, most attempt to hide their slant. According to ousted NYT opinion editor James Bennet, the New York Times fully embraces its liberal bias. So much so, in fact, that he was fired for publishing a conservative piece. 

In a recent essay published in The Economist, Bennet outlines the paper’s disdain for any conservative point of view, even going as far as saying “conservative voices were despised” by the publication. So much so, Bennet said, that an editor suggested labeling conservative op-ed pieces with “trigger warnings.” 

In the essay, Bennet criticized the newspaper for fostering an atmosphere of mandated conformity, where dissenting conservative perspectives were vehemently opposed. 

Bennet detailed his departure from NYT, triggered by the publication of a viewpoint by Republican senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in 2020. 

Tom Cotton’s piece, titled Send In the Troops, supported the idea of using the military to stop widespread criminal rioting across the United States. A military veteran, Cotton advocated for deploying troops to safeguard lives and businesses from rioters.  

The publication of this article resulted in an immediate backlash, with Times staff arguing that the call for more force undermined the paper’s commitment to the safety of protestors.  

The backlash was fast and furious. On X (formerly known as Twitter), several Times reporters and staff opposed publishing Cotton’s piece, worried it might convince readers to embrace the idea and ultimately support its implementation. Following the publication, NYT staff had a massive “sick day” call out; some even resigned in protest of the editor’s decision to publish the piece. 

The following day, the Times’s union, represented by the NewsGuild-CWA, released a statement labeling the op-ed as “a clear threat to the health and safety of the journalists we represent.” 

A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher, initially claimed to understand the rationale behind publishing the op-ed. Although Sulzberger suggested that Bennet include links to other op-eds presenting a different viewpoint, he said he understood why the piece was published and supported the op-ed. Sulzberger believed that Senator Cotton’s perspective was aligned with the White House and had the backing of a majority in the Senate. 

The backlash was fast and furious. Sulzberger told Bennet that NYT staff had a massive “sick day” call out; some even resigned in protest of the editor’s decision to publish the piece. 

Less than three days later, on Saturday morning, Sulzberger called Bennet and demanded his resignation. 

According to Bennet, this incident marked the culmination of the newspaper’s alignment with a liberal “national movement.” Bennet describes the transition of the NYT from a liberal bias to what he terms an “illiberal” bias. He explained that what was once a mere lean to the left has dissolved into stifling any dissent or debate entirely.  

Bennet admitted that the Times’ liberal bias led to the paper sitting on pieces proving conservatives were right. This included delays in revealing that the connections between Trump and Russia were less substantial than anticipated, while Hunter Biden’s laptop was far more significant.  

The paper also delayed releasing information regarding Trump’s suggestion regarding COVID’s origins in a Chinese lab, the varying effectiveness of masks against the virus, and the drawbacks of prolonged school closures. 

While at the publication, Bennet noted that the “bias had become so pervasive” that it had become “unconscious.” The paper, he alleges, shifted away from fostering “diverse and inclusive debate” and created an atmosphere of “enforced group-think.”  Even conservative op-ed writers who were anti-Trump were not published or were mocked simply for being conservative.  

When Trump tried to submit an op-ed piece to the NYT, the organization refused to run it. According to Bennet, editors claimed they “could not raise it to our standards” and that “his people would not agree to the edits we asked for.” 

Bennet also calls into question the paper’s commitment to diversity, observing in 2016 that the opinion department did not have any Black editors. 

The ex-NYT op-ed editor noted that editors were terrified of what reporters would submit, and the reporters were, in turn, afraid of social media backlash. Bennet commended a left-wing columnist for critiquing the Democrats and encouraged the columnist to write more pieces of a similar nature. “I know,” said the columnist, “but Twitter hates it.” 

NYT is just one of many “news” organizations to surrender journalistic integrity for praise from the left. And these organizations are getting bolder every day, and it’s no longer necessary to pretend to be “balanced.” One day, these liberal mouthpieces may return to reporting the news, but for now, as James Bennet confirms, these organizations are nothing but liberal propaganda.