It’s not often that an American president gets a chance to do this, but Donald Trump is making the most of it.
In a series of Twitter posts early Sunday, Trump launched an offensive against The New York Times using a weapon that’s rare for politicians:
Leaked coverage of one of the newspaper’s own internal meetings.
“The Failing New York Times, in one of the most devastating portrayals of bad journalism in history, got caught by a leaker that they are shifting from their Phony Russian Collusion Narrative (the Mueller Report & his testimony were a total disaster), to a Racism Witch Hunt,” Trump wrote.
“’Journalism’ has reached a new low in the history of our Country. It is nothing more than an evil propaganda machine for the Democrat Party. The reporting is so false, biased and evil that it has now become a very sick joke…But the public is aware!”
…..”Journalism” has reached a new low in the history of our Country. It is nothing more than an evil propaganda machine for the Democrat Party. The reporting is so false, biased and evil that it has now become a very sick joke…But the public is aware! #CROOKEDJOURNALISM
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2019
Of course, anyone in the public who’s been paying attention has long been aware that the mainstream media – but The New York Times in particular – has been waging an information war against the Trump presidency.
It started before Trump even had the Republican nomination sewn up, and Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg made it clear in a now-infamous column from August 2016 that all-but declared The Times hostility toward Trump would be a matter of policy.
“It may not always seem fair to Mr. Trump or his supporters. But journalism shouldn’t measure itself against any one campaign’s definition of fairness,” Rutenberg wrote in the front page piece. “It is journalism’s job to be true to the readers and viewers, and true to the facts, in a way that will stand up to history’s judgment. To do anything less would be untenable.”
Since then, The Times has proven itself to be much more “true” to its readers’ liberal, anti-Trump emotions than any high-sounding “facts.”
Witness the so-called “newspaper of record” changing a perfectly accurate headline on Trump’s speech after the back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
And it was at an internal Times meeting called to discuss that headline and other Times fiascoes that the newspaper’s executive editor Dan Baquet called a “f—ing mess.”
A transcript of the meeting published by Slate makes it clear that whatever pretensions The Times has to objectivity and fairness – and those pretensions really aren’t believed much anyway – the staff is rabidly, ferociously anti-Trump.
“It got trickier after [inaudible] … went from being a story about whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia and obstruction of justice to being a more head-on story about the president’s character,” Baquest said, according to the transcript.
Right. And apparently the way The Times has decided to attack the president’s character if to create a story about racism. “Russia, Russia, Russia” didn’t work. Maybe “racist, racist, racist” will.
As Baquet put it later in the meeting:
“Race in the next year—and I think this is, to be frank, what I would hope you come away from this discussion with—race in the next year is going to be a huge part of the American story. And I mean, race in terms of not only African Americans and their relationship with Donald Trump, but Latinos and immigration.”
Clearly, that’s going to be the line of attack on Trump. As the president put it in his tweet, it’s a going to be a “witch hunt.” It’s as empty at its beginnings as the Russia “collusion” story was at its end, but that isn’t going to stop The Times, and all the mainstream media outlets that follow its lead.
No one who reads The Times regularly will exactly be astonished at the transcript, but the staffers’ openness and obvious blindness to their own bias is still troubling.
What might be even more troubling though is the vast, vast majority of responses to Trump’s post were from Trump haters who clearly saw wrong with a news outset with the stature and reputation of The Times conducting itself like a two-bit propaganda outfit in some banana republic.
Fortunately, many Americans still get it.
#AgemdaDrivenMedia. Manipulates news to fit their purpose…ceases to be “journalism”
— @lalauraru777 (@lalauraru777) August 18, 2019
The Times transcript indicates a roomful of “journalists” who have no problem with using their position to advance an agenda – and the agenda is getting Donald Trump out of the White House.
To be charitable, there’s no way of knowing what’s in the hearts of others, and The Times – and other mainstream media outlets – might truly believe what they’re doing is morally right. (It’s not impossible.)
But whatever it is, it’s not “journalism.”
Trump’s tweet nailed The Times on it. And The Times staffers’ own leaked words to back it up.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.