Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R- Ky.) tore into the New York Times from the Senate floor Wednesday, accusing the paper of "lying" and bowing to the "angry mob" in walking back a controversial op-ed written by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) last week.
"One of our nation's most storied newspapers just had its intellectual independence challenged by an angry mob and they folded like a house of cards," McConnell blasted. "A jury of people on Twitter indicted them as accessories to a thought crime and instead of telling them to go take a hike, the paper pleaded guilty and begged for mercy."
McConnell noted that the Times has, in the past, published pieces by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian propagandists, yet it was "800 words from the junior senator from Arkansas" that really caused a stir.
"The New York Times had erred grievously by making people confront a different viewpoint," he added sarcastically. "It hurt their feelings by making them confront a different point of view."
He acknowledged that the op-ed was controversial, yes, but hardly outside the realm of acceptable discourse. He argued it was a "legitimate view" and accused the paper of "lying about what Senator Cotton had said."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered scathing criticism of The New York Times on Wednesday for its recent… https://t.co/zDoqqQw7i6— POLITICO (@POLITICO) 1591812716.0
In the opinion piece, titled, "Send In the Troops," Cotton called for the military to be activated in order to halt riots, looting, and destruction erupting across the country in the wake of George Floyd's death.
Cotton wrote, "nihilist criminals are simply out for loot and the thrill of destruction" and that "cadres of left-wing radicals like antifa" are "infiltrating protest marches to exploit Floyd's death for their own anarchic purposes."
The op-ed's publication caused an internal firestorm at the paper, with several editors tweeting that running the piece put black staffers in danger. The outpouring of anger eventually led to the resignation of the paper's editorial page editor, James Bennet.
The op-ed has now been updated with a condemnatory editor's note, which says "the essay fell short of our standards and should not have been published."
The new acting editorial page editor, Kate Kingsbury, has reportedly told staff to flag her if anything published "gives you the slightest pause."