Media Matters

* The editorial page editor of the New York Times, James Bennet, is out. He had signed off on an op-ed piece by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, the right-wing Trump cheerleader who advocated using federal troops to quell protests. Moreover, Bennet had not read the hard-line piece, entitled “Send in the Troops,” before publication. It caused a backlash of outrage among Times’ journalists. He had to go. He went.

Two takeaways. First, a key reason newspapers have “op-ed” forums is to be, within reason, inclusive of other–including opposition–points of view. It’s journalism’s version of what good attorneys do before coming into court: know the other side’s “best” arguments, to better disable them. Cotton outs himself with constitutional overreach and storm trooper mentality. Second, if you’re the editorial page editor and you run something controversial without having read it, you should be fired.

* There’s an obvious, definitional difference between protest and loot–or protesters and looters. As in emotional fealty to a just cause and opportunistic, criminal behavior that undermines it. But there’s also protest protocol. For the racially unwoke, just don’t interchange looters and “thugs.” The “t word,” as has been pointed out, can also be code for the new “n word” Now we all know. We also know what City Councilman John Dingfelder meant: Shame on looters, however labeled.

* From social media enabling of partisan lying to WiFi outage to butt-dialed calls, the new communications normal can be a double-edged societal sword at times. But thank goodness for cell-phone cameras that have unmasked police brutality in too many tragic instances.

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