A transcript of a town hall-like meeting the executive editor of The New York Times had with his reporting staff reminded us of the revelations of the infamous Nixon Tapes. A recording of the meeting was leaked to Slate Magazine which published a transcript.
According to the transcript, the meeting was apparently convened in the aftermath of a Times headline – “Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism” – to a story about President Trump’s speech in the wake of this month’s murderous mass shootings in which he denounced hate and white supremacy. After an uproar in the newsroom and social media, the headline was changed in later editions to “Assailing Hate But Not Guns,” which seems not to have mollified the critics all that much.
But, as Byron York underscores in the Washington Examiner, what becomes clear from the transcript is that there was an acknowledgement of an institutional, programmatic anti-Trump bias amongst reporters. The executive editor, Dean Baquet, actually suggested that with the issuance of the less than dramatic Mueller report, The Times had to shift focus from its coverage of Russia gate to the President’s alleged racism.
Baquet explained that “The day Bob Mueller walked off the witness stand, two things happened. Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, ‘[expletive deleted] Bob Mueller is not going to do it.’” Baquet continued, “I think that we’ve got to change.” The Times must “write more deeply about the country, race and other divisions…. I mean, the vision for coverage for the next two years is what I talked about earlier. How do we cover a guy who makes these kind of [racial] remarks? How do we cover the world’s reaction to him? How do we do that while continuing to cover his policies? How do we cover America, that’s become so divided by Donald Trump?”
President Donald Trump, of course, had already given all of this a name: “Fake News.” He was surely close.