James Bennet Published ‘The Case for Reparations’ Years Before New York Times’ Controversy

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

The New York Times’ editorial page editor who resigned Sunday after the newspaper disowned an opinion piece by U.S. Senator Tom Cotton was the editor-in-chief of the Atlantic magazine when it published “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

James Bennet resigned and his deputy, James Dao, is being reassigned at the newspaper, the Times said Sunday. The publication of Sen. Cotton’s op-ed triggered a revolt among Times journalists, with some saying it endangered black employees and calling in sick on Thursday in protest.

The swift retribution for the publications of Cotton’s op-ed marks a dramatic change of fortune for Bennet. Working at the New York Times from 1991 to 2006, he had been White House correspondent and Jerusalem bureau chief. He left the paper in 2006 to become editor-in-chief of the Atlantic and returned as chief of the Times‘ opinion pages in 2016.

It was at the Atlantic that Bennet published Ta-Nehisi Coates essay arguing for reparations for black Americans based on alleged racism and discrimination, including alleged red-lining to restrict black access to real estate in white neighborhoods. The article propelled Coates into the stratosphere of American journalism and made him one of the most prominent writers on race and racism in the U.S.

Coates was hired on to the magazine’s staff by James Bennet in 2008. He has said that hiring “saved my life,” according to the Washington Post.  Coates has said he worked on the article for two years.

Here is a 2015 conversation between Coates and Bennet about Coates’ book on race, Between the World and MeThe book went on to win the prestigious National Book Award.


Bennet, the brother of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, has not spoken publicly about his resignation.

–The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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