Former NYT Opinion Editor James Bennet Unveils ‘Enforced Group-Think’ and ‘Illiberal Bias’ at the Paper

Former NYT Opinion Editor James Bennet Unveils ‘Enforced Group-Think’ and ‘Illiberal Bias’ at the Paper

James Bennet, former opinion editor of the New York Times (NYT), has raised serious concerns about what he describes as an ‘environment of enforced group-think’ and ‘illiberal bias’ within the newspaper.

In a detailed 17,000-word essay, Bennet unveils the challenges he faced, leading to his departure after publishing a controversial opinion piece by Republican senator Tom Cotton in 2020.

The Cotton Controversy:

The turning point in Bennet’s tenure came with the publication of Tom Cotton’s piece, titled ‘Send In the Troops,’ which advocated for the use of the army to address criminal rioting.

Bennet recounts the immediate backlash, with accusations that the op-ed undermined the paper’s commitment to protestors’ safety, resulting in resignations and widespread discontent among the staff.

The Shift in NYT’s Perspective:

Bennet’s essay delves into the evolution of NYT’s editorial stance, pointing out a move from ‘liberal bias to illiberal bias.’

He notes a significant shift from fostering diverse and inclusive debate to an environment where conservative voices, even anti-Trump ones, were allegedly despised.

Trigger Warnings and Lack of Diversity:

Bennet highlights instances where suggestions were made to attach ‘trigger warnings’ to conservative pieces, indicating a growing reluctance to engage with diverse perspectives.

Additionally, he criticizes the paper for failing to uphold its claim to value diversity, citing the absence of a single black editor in the opinion department in 2016.

The Creep of Bias into Reporting:

One of Bennet’s major concerns is the ‘creep’ of bias into what the paper chose to report or not report.

He points out instances where fear of saying the wrong thing led editors to tread cautiously, sometimes at the expense of timely and comprehensive coverage.

Challenges in Conservative Op-Eds:

Bennet alleges that NYT ran very few conservative op-eds, and even when an op-ed from former President Trump was submitted, it was rejected for failing to meet the paper’s standards.

This raises questions about the publication’s commitment to diverse viewpoints.

The Consequence of Ejection:

Bennet concludes by suggesting that his departure was a way for the NYT to avoid addressing critical questions about its values.

He emphasizes the importance of journalism and democracy thriving when people resist succumbing to fear.

Conclusion:

James Bennet’s exposé on the New York Times provides a rare glimpse into the challenges faced by editors dealing with evolving journalistic norms.

The accusations of ‘enforced group-think’ and a shift from liberal to illiberal bias invite reflection on the state of mainstream media and its role in facilitating diverse and inclusive discourse.

Bennet’s narrative prompts a broader discussion on the delicate balance between editorial standards, ideological diversity, and journalistic integrity within renowned publications.

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