January 6, 2021


While the rest of Washington went apoplectic over impeachment proceedings that ultimately failed to put a single lasting dent in Trump’s reelection odds, the Arkansas senator was laser-focused on news of the novel coronavirus. In January, Cotton was bailing on impeachment proceedings to warn the White House repeatedly it was wildly behind on targeted travel bans, testing production, and vaccine development. He was also rightly pointing out that the Chinese Communist Party’s assertion that the coronavirus emerged from a wet market that didn’t even sell bats, the original carrier of the virus, was most likely a cover for its real source: China’s only maximum-security biosafety-level-four facility, which was known to conduct gain-of-function experiments on coronaviruses.

And yet, like Cassandra warning Paris his actions would start the Trojan War, Cotton was roundly derided as a crackpot conspiracy theorist by most of the media.

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By late spring, a second crisis was emerging. Protests supposedly in the name of justice for George Floyd, the unarmed black man killed while kneeled on by a white cop, devolved into the sort of lawless riots anyone could see would spell doom, not productive lawmaking, for cities and businesses disproportionately of people of color. Cotton wrote a New York Times op-ed arguing that military involvement was warranted to assist law enforcement in cities unable to quell riots, an opinion shared by nearly 3 in 5 registered voters, including nearly a majority of those who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“These rioters, if not subdued, not only will destroy the livelihoods of law-abiding citizens but will also take more innocent lives,” Cotton wrote. “Many poor communities that still bear scars from past upheavals will be set back still further.”

Members of the staff of the New York Times, who hadn’t raised a word of protest when the paper published direct op-eds from the Taliban, Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, or Hamas, were so enraged that not only did they accuse their employers of literally putting black people in danger by publishing Cotton’s opinion, but they also succeeded in upending the entire editorial structure of the opinion page and chasing respected editor James Bennet from the building.

Cotton wound up raising $200,000 in the week after his column was published, which he spent on ads in the New York Times railing against Joe Biden. (Cotton, who unseated a Democratic incumbent in 2014, went on to beat his Libertarian challenger in 2020 by 33 points, as no Democrat ran in the race.)

As Ann Coulter tweets in response to today’s DC riots involving Trump supporters, New York Times to un-retract Tom Cotton’s op-ed.”

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