The New York Times staffer who edited Sen. Tom Cotton’s infamous “Send in the Troops” column has resigned from the paper more than six months after its publication.
Adam Rubenstein, a young editorial assistant who previously worked at The Weekly Standard, was thrust into the media spotlight last summer after the Times itself reported that he edited the notorious June submission in which Cotton called for the feds to deploy American troops into cities to suppress protests against police brutality. The column sparked a staff-wide revolt and prompted the resignation of opinions editor James Bennet.
Rubenstein left the newspaper this week, The Daily Beast has confirmed. His exit was announced—with little fanfare—in an internal Slack channel for Times staffers on Thursday. Neither Rubenstein nor the newspaper immediately responded to a request for comment.
Prior to his ouster, Bennet initially defended the column as being crucial to the opinion page’s mission to show readers the “counter-arguments, particularly those made by people in a position to set policy.” He added at the time: “We understand that many readers find Senator Cotton's argument painful, even dangerous. We believe that is one reason it requires public scrutiny and debate.”
But in a company-wide town hall meeting, Bennet issued a mea culpa, saying, “I’m very sorry, I’m sorry for the pain that this particular piece has caused” and suggesting the ordeal had become “a moment for me and for us to interrogate everything we do in opinion.” He admitted to having not personally read the column before it was published—“another part of the process that broke down,” he said—and acknowledged to staff that “I should have been involved in signing off on the piece... I should have read it and signed off.”
A few days later, Bennet resigned. His deputy editor James Dao was reassigned to the newsroom. Rubenstein remained with the paper until this week.
Times executives have repeatedly framed the Cotton column as “a leadership problem,” and a spokesperson called it the result of a “rushed editorial process.”
For example, during the editing process, the Times reported, Rubenstein approached a photo editor for images of troops dispatched to the University of Mississippi in 1962 to shut down segregationist mob violence against racial integration at the school—a comparable situation, the senator seemed to suggest, to deploying troops to quash this summer’s protests against racial injustice.
“A false equivalence, but historical images are there now,” the photo editor reportedly messaged back to Rubenstein, prompting the editorial assistant to reportedly admit: “Yeah, there are a few in there.”